Why the New York Giants could have a top-5 secondary in 2021

Alexander Wilson
New York Giants, James Bradberry
Oct 22, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Giants cornerback James Bradberry (24) intercepts the ball in front of Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver John Hightower (82) during the second quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve been watching the New York Giants the past few weeks, you can probably assume they will have a better 2021 season compared to their lackluster performance in 2020. The Giants over-performed on defense last year but struggled on offense, ranking 32nd in points per game at 17.5.

The Giants did plenty to upgrade their offense this off-season, including signing WR1 Kenny Golladay, John Ross, and Kyle Rudolph. In addition, they have the flexibility of using premium draft selections to upgrade the OL or add more playmakers like Jaylen Waddle/DeVonta Smith.

However, Big Blue didn’t forget about their defense, which was a top 10 unit in points allowed per game last season. They retained star pass rusher Leonard Williams and signed a premium corner in Adoree’ Jackson.

Some might argue that the Giants have one of the best secondaries in football, especially with Xavier McKinney experiencing solid development in the second half of 2020 and a phenomenal performance by James Bradberry, who they signed last season to a three-year deal.

Let’s take a look at the projected starters for 2021 and why they could be one of the best units in football.

New York Giants’ starting secondary:

CB1: James Bradberry

CB2: Adoree’ Jackson

Slot Corner: Darnay Holmes

S: Logan Ryan

S: Xavier McKinney

S: Jabrill Peppers

Starting with Bradberry, who had himself an elite season last year — he allowed 454 yards and three touchdowns in coverage. Two of his three scores came in week one against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and teams quickly figured out they should not target him in the red zone. He allowed a 70.1 passer rating against, showing he is one of the best corners in football. In addition, he tallied three interceptions and two forced fumbles.

The Giants went out and signed one of the best corners on the market recently in Jackson, who is only 25 years old and is considered one of the most athletic players at the position in the NFL. During Jackson‘s best season in 2019, he allowed 479 yards and two touchdowns over 11 performances. He earned an 82.5 overall coverage grade, making him a top 15 player in the category, per PFF.

Since 2018, he’s considered one of the top coverage corners in football, ranking alongside players like Richard Sherman, Jaire  Alexander, and Stephon Gilmore.

If he can remain healthy, the Giants will have arguably the best cornerback duo in football, as Jackson is capable of being a high-end CB1, and pairing him with Bradberry is simply unfair.

Slot corner Darnay Holmes struggled during his rookie season, but he has the tenacity and work ethic to become a fantastic interior coverage-defender. With his willingness to stop the run and elite athleticism, most of his issues are mental (experience) and simply need more adaptation.

Coming off an injury-riddled season at UCLA in 2019, Holmes took a bit more time to get his footing in the NFL but had a few standout performances. As a fourth-round pick, Darnay was always a project but had arguably his best game against the Seattle Seahawks in week 13 last season. He recorded an interception and limited Seattle receivers to a measly 38 yards. He did have a few penalty issues late in the year, but I believe a season of experience will ultimately spur astronomical development.

The safety trio of Xavier McKinney, Jabrill Peppers, and Logan Ryan is arguably the best in football. Another pairing that has unlimited potential.

McKinney suffered a fractured foot during training camp last year but made a significant impression in his final game of the season against Dallas in week 17. He picked up an interception and shut down the deeper portions of the field, giving the Giants a major positive heading into the off-season.

As we’ve seen recently, Ryan and peppers played a significant part in recruiting big names to the Giants this off-season. Peppers went to dinner with Kenny Golladay in Hoboken, which helped convince him the Giants were building something special. Ryan flew up from Florida to meet with Adoree Jackson during his visit, and he never even made it to Philadelphia, a team that was heavily interested in her services.

As we can see, this unit is composed of highly motivated individuals with fantastic work ethic. They are all capable of playing at an elite level, and if the Giants can unlock their potential, which coordinator Patrick Graham has proven he can do, this secondary could be a top-five unit if not the best in football.