The New York Giants are trudging forward with Janoris Jenkins and DeAndre Baker as their top two cornerbacks in 2019, however, there’s an unexpected player making waves early on.
Sixth-round pick Corey Ballentine had a fantastic pre-season opener against the New York Jets, recording two assisted tackles and an impressive interception on a long-ball thrown by former Giant, Davis Webb.
Rookies came to play. pic.twitter.com/qgZqzUxFEl
— New York Giants (@Giants) August 9, 2019
While the rookie corner became the first-ever player flagged for defensive pass interference after a coach challenged a non-call, his day finished on a high note. A savvy play on the reversed call saw him grab the interior arm of the receiver, out of the referee’s vision. This looked like a veteran move, but the NFL is making the cornerback position more difficult to play with every passing year.
“I think it’s a whole different ballgame,” Ballentine said of the rule change.
Corey took a different approach on the second deep-ball throw his way:
“I tried to catch the ball the second time instead of batting it away,” he said. “Then I won’t have that issue.”
Having setbacks is normal for any rookie player, but for a sixth-round pick to learn so quickly is rare. He has elite athleticism and the ability to make plays against starting talent. Being a late-round pick, the most we can hope for is that Ballentine develops into a quality backup, but it’s becoming clear that he has starting potential.
“I’m a big fan of his,” Pat Shurmur said. “If you’re going to play in this game and have success, you have to be tough and competitive. He is both. He’s had to go through some adversity here, but we’ve seen him compete and make plays in practice.”
Beyond practice, Corey showed up on game-day as well:
“There are some guys who can take it to the practice field, then when they get out here, it just goes away on them,” Shurmur said. “It was obvious that he competed out there just like he did on the practice field, and that’s a good thing.”
The New York Giants might have a great duo for the future:
A Ballentine and Baker duo for the future is quickly becoming a reality. Baker looked great in his preseason debut as well, locking down the Jets’ top receivers.
Nice leverage step by DeAndre Baker pic.twitter.com/lJdskH44m7
— The Press Coverage Podcast (@PressCovPodcast) August 8, 2019
Baker and Julian Love were beat on a pick play, allowing a touchdown. This was simply a rookie mistake not identifying the setup of the play and the passing off of the targeted receiver.
Two rookie corners Deandre Baker & Julian Love get beat on a pick play. It happens. Also not fun pic.twitter.com/yPoSnsbhII
— Talkin’ Giants (@TalkinGiants) August 8, 2019
However, it’s essential the youngsters begin to learn how to combat these plays, especially during the preseason. This is the perfect time for them to understand professional schemes and learn the hard way.
If both Baker and Ballentine continue to progress and refine their abilities, they could end up being the starting duo for the future. The Giants’ first-round pick will be the active starter in 2019, but Ballentine will need at least one/two-seasons to grow into a starting option.