What will the New York Giants’ starting secondary look like in 2022?

xavier mckinney, new york giants

The New York Giants‘ defense lost a few key players this offseason. Two of the Giants’ best defenders, cornerback James Bradberry and safety Logan Ryan, were both released this offseason. New York was in a tight salary cap pinch and had to cut ties with these crucial members of their secondary to create cap space. These big losses leave the Giants with a totally reworked secondary entering 2022 headlined by safety Xavier McKinney.

The Giants’ starting secondary is going to look a lot different in 2022. New York needs to find a new starting outside cornerback and a new starting free safety. Adoree’ Jackson, Xavier McKinney, Julian Love, and a few other second and third-year players will return. But there will be a few new faces starting and playing crucial roles in the Giants’ secondary this season.

Projecting the Giants’ starting secondary in 2022

Outside cornerbacks

Adoree’ Jackson was signed by the Giants last offseason to be a perfect complement to James Bradberry. Now, with Bradberry released, the Giants will need to find a cornerback to complement Adoree’ Jackson. The Giants already have some options on their roster that could satisfy this need. 2021 sixth-round pick Rodarius Williams showed a lot of promise as a rookie before a season-ending injury. If he bounces back from the injury, he could take the starting job. Aaron Robinson played a lot of slot cornerback last season but has the size and aggression to move outside. The Giants have a few players that will be competing for the slot cornerback position, making Robinson’s future as a boundary corner more and more likely. If the Giants are not satisfied with the cornerbacks on their roster, they could use some target a veteran in free agent.

Slot cornerback

The Giants have a number of options at slot cornerback this season. Darnay Holmes and Aaron Robinson rotated in that position last season (based on who was healthy enough to start). But the Giants have injected even more talent into the position with 2022 third-round pick Cordale Flott. It is difficult to determine who will win the starting job, but there is no shortage of young talent at this position for the New York Giants.

Safeties

Xavier McKinney headlines the Giants’ secondary entering 2022. The 2020 second-round draft pick had a breakout campaign in his sophomore 2021 season. McKinney played in all 17 games last season and stuffed the stat sheet with 93 combined tackles, 10 passes defended, and 5 interceptions, including a pick-six. Xavier McKinney established himself as a star in the making last season and, at only 22-years-old, it’s only up from here for the Giants’ most exciting defensive back.

Opposite of Xavier McKinney last season was veteran defensive back, Logan Ryan. Upon Ryan’s release, it was questionable who would step into his role. Julian Love, a 2019 fourth-round pick that has played as a rotational piece could fill those shoes. But after the 2022 NFL Draft, Love now has some competition with the Giants’ fourth-round pick, Dane Belton.

Julian Love is a versatile player that has started games at strong safety, free safety, slot cornerback, and outside cornerback. Love started five games last season (appeared in all 17) and totaled 66 combined tackles, 7 passes defended, and 5 interceptions. Love has been a solid contributor on the Giants’ defense for three years now and could be in line to start at either of the safety positions.

Dane Belton is an intriguing rookie that the Giants secured in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Belton was productive in Iowa’s defense last year, tallying 46 total tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 7 passes defended, and 5 interceptions. Dane Belton could get a crack at one of the safety positions, however, he primarily played slot cornerback in college. Similar to Julian Love, Belton moved around a lot on Iowa’s defense, spending time between both cornerback and safety. The New York Giants now have two very versatile defensive backs to rotate across their defense in a variety of positions.