DeAndre Baker is not a good cornerback at the moment. That’s not a knock on Baker, however – the rookie has been thrown into a New York Giants defense that lacks depth at the position, and expected to play to a similar standard as the team’s other starting cornerback, Janoris Jenkins.
Baker isn’t surrounded by top tier players to cover for his status as an inexperienced rookie, and the defensive coaches have been unable to come up with schemes where he won’t be a consistent target for opposing quarterbacks looking to pick up yardage down the field.
It’s not exactly a fair situation for the first round draft pick, but it might get worse for Baker – or better, depending on if you see spending some time on the bench as a better alternative for Baker than continuing to be the main target of opposing offenses.
The Giants have, of course, activated Sam Beal. That’s relevant because Beal was projected as one of the top competitors for Baker during the offseason, and may have ended up with a starting spot outright if it wasn’t for injury keeping him off the field. Beal’s career has been plagued by injury so far, and the cornerback hasn’t played a NFL game yet after being taken in the supplemental draft in 2018 by the Giants.
His first season was missed with a shoulder injury, and hamstring injury landed Beal on the IR list this season, which some believed the corner wasn’t going to return from.
But Beal is back on the active roster which means that he should see the field soon – whether that’s as a starter or a backup remains to be seen but few would complain about some competition for Baker given his early performances… Even if those performances are the expectation, based on the situation he was thrown into by circumstance.
Of course, some of the blame does fall to Baker – he admitted after the team’s loss to the Cowboys that he’s still in the process of learning the playbook, more than halfway into the season.
“The playbook. Just knowing the plays. Knowing what I need to do. Knowing my assignment,” Baker said when asked about what he needed to improve.
Beal hasn’t been on the field but one advantage of spending so much time on the sideline is that he’s had plenty of time to learn the system without the pressure of playing. Will that help Beal in a cornerback battle? We’ll see.
It’s impossible, though, to deny that there is a quarterback battle. The Giants need better play at the position or they aren’t going to get more than one or two more wins this year – Amari Cooper’s performance in the Dallas game demonstrates that point.
Beal isn’t guaranteed to be the improvement that they’re looking for, but at this point, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain from making it a competition and giving him a shot to knock off DeAndre Baker as the starter next to Jenkins.