The secondary hasn’t been the most stable spot for the New York Giants over the past few years, as the team has seen multiple first round draft picks like Eli Apple and DeAndre Baker leave for varying reasons without becoming long term players.
However, it looks like the Giants have finally reached a good spot at the position. That didn’t come through drafting, but instead through their free agent acquisitions.
The Giants watched James Bradberry raise his performance level to become one of the best corners in the league after joining them last season, and they added to his presence in 2021 by signing Adoree’ Jackson as the main number two option.
This signing is regarded as the biggest improvement to the team’s defense from 2021’s free agency, and the combination has already earned attention from the national media.
In a list of the top 10 cornerback duos in the league, NFL.com’s Cynthia Frelund listed Bradberry and Jackson at number 10.
Since 2018, James Bradberry has forced a whopping 42 incompletions — the top figure in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus.Â Last season, he earned an overall PFF grade of 79.8, which tied for seventh among corners with Jalen Ramsey. Computer vision shows that on snaps where the front was unable to generate pressure, Bradberry still allowed just a 59.6 percent completion percentage, the second-lowest mark amongst corners in 2020. Overall passing data logically shows that an increase in pressure correlates with a decrease in completion percentage, but it also shows that effective coverage from defensive backs ahead of the pass can correlate with increased pressure. Bradberry’s production, combined with the addition of Adoree’ Jackson, should help the Giants more effectively blanket pass catchers before the snap. Between that and the additions made up front, New York should increase its pressure rate in 2021, which will in turn drive even more efficiency from the corners.
The rating might seem low but it’s worth noting that Jackson hasn’t played a single game for the Giants yet. Bradberry improved after getting into Patrick Graham’s defense, and the same may happen with Jackson.
The Giants are confident enough in that outcome, after all, that they gave him a three year contract for a hefty $39m. The Giants secondary could easily rise further in the overall ranks of the league if Jackson sees a similar improvement to Bradberry.
It’s easy to imagine this will be a good environment for Jackson, as he’ll be playing and practicing with former Titans secondary teammates Logan Ryan and Joshua Kalu.
At the very least, the combination of Bradberry and Jackson looks better than the combo of Bradberry and Baker, and some around the league are starting to take note of that improvement this offseason.