The New York Giants have expressed a significant amount of interest in drafting a cornerback in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Many analysts project that the Giants will select Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner with one of their two top-ten picks in the first round. But if the Giants do not take Gardner in round one, they will need to target a defensive back later in the draft. Jalen Pitre is one underrated defensive back prospect that the Giants could snag in the second round.
Jalen Pitre played a mix of safety and slot cornerback during his collegiate career at Baylor. He lined up primarily in the slot according to PFF, but Pitre was an impact run-defender. This ability could cause the Baylor star to be converted to safety in the NFL. The Giants have a need at both cornerback and safety, though. The imminent departure of James Bradberry will leave the Giants thin outside. The recent departures of both Logan Ryan and Jabrill Peppers leave the Giants with a lack of talent over the top. Drafting Jalen Pitre in the second could potentially fill either one of these holes for Big Blue.
What could Jalen Pitre bring to the Giants?
Jalen Pitre is an incredibly underrated prospect in this year’s draft class. Some analysts are shocked by Pitre’s current draft stock and feel like he should be a first-round prospect. Jalen Pitre’s abilities as a run-defender make him a truly special defensive back. According to Pro Football Focus, since 2020, Pitre has posted a 92.9 Run Defense Grade (2nd among FBS CBs), 34 run stops (1st), and 19 tackles for loss/no gain (1st).
The Giants already have a couple of young, promising slot cornerbacks on their roster. Both Darnay Holmes and Aaron Robinson have flashed the potential to be solid starting nickels. Jalen Pitre might not fit in with the Giants’ roster as a slot cornerback, but he could make an impact as a safety. Xavier McKinney and Julian Love are the projected starters on the back-end for New York. It would be wise for the Giants to add some more talent to the mix.
Pitre is 5’11 190 lbs and plays the game with peak physicality. He played several alignments on Baylor’s defense. As The Draft Network describes, “on any given play you can find Pitre playing FS, SS, ILB, or OLB.” TDN projects Jalen Pitre’s “ideal role” in the NFL as a “strong safety/primary role to be an inset run defender.” Furthermore, TDN says Pitre is a scheme fit for a “Cover 3 zone scheme” defense.
The Giants hired Wink Martindale as their defensive coordinator this offseason. Martindale is known to be creative with the way he utilizes his safeties. Martindale’s defenses typically feature a single-high safety in a cover-one man or cover-three zone. This could make Jalen Pitre a scheme fit with the Giants.
Jalen Pitre allowed 0 touchdowns in coverage during his collegiate career and snagged 4 interceptions. Jalen also recorded 25 total QB pressures in the 2021 season (PFF). Wink Martindale loves to get creative with the pass-rush, sending many defensive backs on blitzes.
The New York Giants need to add talent to their secondary. Jalen Pitre is a versatile defensive back that could fit seamlessly in Wink Martindale’s fast-paced defensive scheme and make an impact as early as his rookie season.