The New York Giants had a top-ten defense in the NFL last season. New York’s defense won with a strong interior of defensive linemen and a dynamic secondary full of young, talented defensive backs. There should be more of the same in 2021.
The Giants doubled down this offseason and made some upgrades in their already top-tier secondary. They made a splash signing in free agency this offseason, inking outside cornerback Adoree’ Jackson to a three-year, $39 million deal. This move potentially gave the Giants another elite starting cornerback opposite of James Bradberry.
But the New York Giants are no longer top-heavy in the secondary. They do not just have talented starters in their secondary. The Giants now have a secondary with talented depth.
Depth in the Giants’ secondary
The New York Giants have a talented trio of safeties that will see significant playing time this season. Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan will build on what they started last season as the starting safeties. Ryan, that rangy ball-hawking free safety, and Peppers, that tough run-defending box safety. But the Giants also have Xavier McKinney entering his second season in the NFL. McKinney provides a nice blend of skills that would help him thrive in the box or in deep coverage. Expect to see the Giants run a lot of three safety sets this season to maximize the talent on their roster.
Julian Love will be the Giants’ depth piece for the safeties. Love got starting experience in his rookie 2019 season when Jabrill Peppers went down with an injury. Love was impressive and established himself as a perfect utility player for the Giants’ defense. Julian will provide depth in the Giants’ secondary as a safety, but he also has the skills and experience to fill in at slot and outside cornerback, too.
The outside cornerbacks
James Bradberry and Adoree’ Jackson could be one of the elite cornerback duos in the NFL this season. Bradberry played at an elite level last season, breaking up a career-high 18 passes with 3 interceptions and his first-career Pro Bowl selection. Jackson, however, barely saw the field in 2020.
Adoree’ dealt with a knee injury last season that kept him sidelined most of the year. This was his second significant injury in two years. Adoree’ Jackson is one of the best outside cornerbacks in the NFL when he is healthy. Since 2018, Jackson has the fourth-highest coverage grade when lined up outside according to Pro Football Focus with a grade of 85.6. But his injury history does motivate the Giants to load up on depth behind him.
The Giants still have Isaac Yiadom on their roster. There were times where Yiadom was a liability in the Giants’ secondary last season. Isaac Yiadom might not be capable of being a full-time starting corner, but he does have experience and familiarity with the Giants’ scheme, making him a quality depth piece.
In the 2021 NFL Draft, the Giants once again prioritized the secondary. They drafted two cornerbacks this year: Aaron Robinson out of UCF and Rodarius Williams out of Oklahoma State. Robinson is likely to compete for the starting nickel corner position, but he has the versatility to contribute on the outside as well.
Rodarius Williams, though, is an outside cornerback that will begin his career as a quality backup. Williams forced 30 incompletions in his career (PFF). He has the aggression to play press-man on the outside, something of which the Giants want to do a lot more. Williams is a high-character, quality guy that will enter the Giants locker room. Check out our exclusive interview with him here.
The Giants are bound to have a competition at slot cornerback this summer. Darnay Holmes looked impressive in that role as a rookie in 2020. But New York added another slot corner in this year’s draft, Aaron Robinson. The two corners are both physical and have a knack for getting their hands on the football.
Regardless of who gets the start in the slot, the Giants have a good problem on their hands. They have two talented players that might be deserving of a starting role. That means that they have a lot of talent at the slot cornerback position and, of course, quality depth.
The Giants know the importance of having depth in the secondary. When Darnay Holmes and James Bradberry were both absent against the Cleveland Browns last season it was a long night on the field for New York. Baker Mayfield had his way with the Giants’ defense during that primetime matchup. Now the Giants have a deep secondary filled with young playmakers on the defensive side of the ball.