Where Does Grant Haley Fit In The New York Giants’ 2020 Defense?

New York Giants cornerback, Grant Haley.
Dec 23, 2018; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Chester Rogers (80) carries the ball as New York Giants defensive back Grant Haley (34) defends during the first half at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar via USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants have made plenty of roster improvements this offseason. They have invested heavily in their secondary in each of the past two drafts. Last season, Grant Haley served primarily as the team’s slot cornerback. He did struggle, though, and the Giants drafted Darnay Holmes in the fourth round this year to seemingly start in the slot.

On top of that, the Giants selected safety Xavier McKinney in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. This could mean more reps in the slot for Julian Love. So, with these additions, it seems like Grant Haley has been pushed down the depth chart and will not be involved with the defense much in 2020. But I do not believe that to be true. I think that Grant Haley has a specific, and important role to play in this defense.

Grant Haley’s Role

Grant Haley struggled in coverage last season. He allowed an 82.1% completion percentage when targeted, surrendering 32 completions for 342 yards. He also failed to record a pass defended in 2019.

Despite his struggles in coverage, Haley demonstrated that he is a capable tackler. He totaled 43 combined tackles with only 3 missed tackles on the season. Haley’s tackling ability is well above-average for a cornerback and provides him with value in the Giants’ defense this season.

Being an excellent open-field tackler, Haley will be impactful for this defense on obvious run-downs. When the opposing offense is certainly going to run, substituting Haley into the defense in place of Holmes makes plenty of sense. Haley could be the featured cornerback in goal-line situations as well. Near the goal line, Haley will not have to worry about tracking a receiver downfield and could simply play a flat zone, waiting to attack any runner that may come near.

Third or fourth-and-short situations also make sense for Grant Haley. Pretty much anytime you can be certain that the offense is either running the ball or throwing the ball short-range, Haley provides value because of his excellent tackling ability. Joe Judge and Patrick Graham have made it abundantly clear that they will play their players to their strengths. Players will not be forced to do things they do not excel at. Haley will not be asked to travel with Desean Jackson on a 30-yard post route in man coverage. But it would make sense if Haley was asked to make a clutch open-field tackle on Miles Sanders.

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