Carl Lawson to IR among New York Jets’ roster moves

New York Jets

The New York Jets placed Carl Lawson on injured reserve and signed a lineman on both sides of the ball on Monday.

The New York Jets announced a series of roster moves on Monday, headlined by the placement of defensive end Carl Lawson on injured reserve. Lawson, signer of a three-year, $45 million contract over the offseason, ruptured his Achilles tendon during a joint practice with the Green Bay Packers last week.

New York also added defensive end Aaron Adeoye and offensive lineman Isaiah Williams while waiving cornerback and kick returner Corey Ballentine.

A previous report from ESPN Adam Schefter indicated that the Jets would seek pass rushing help in the wake of Lawson’s injury and the arrival of Adeoye appears to be their first step in that endeavor. Adeoye, a basketball player at several Division I programs, has spent the last two seasons in Baltimore’s system, partaking in a single game with the Ravens last season. His previous professional stops include Champions Indoor Football with the Salina Liberty, The Spring League, and the Alliance of American Football’s Birmingham Iron. He earned 20 tackles and a forced fumble for the Iron, who had clinched an AAF playoff spot at the time of the league’s shutdown in April 2019.

Meanwhile, Williams has spent time on and off the practice squads of seven NFL teams and also has professional spring football experience through the AAF (Atlanta) and XFL (Tampa Bay). Williams’ most recent NFL time came with the San Francisco 49ers, where he signed in December and was waived on August 10.

The Jets also bid farewell to Ballentine, a former New York Giants draft pick who established himself as a kick returner after joining the team in November. Ballentine averaged 26.2 yards on 12 returns last season and took back a Green Bay kickoff 73 yards in Saturday afternoon’s victorious exhibition. His runback set up the Jets’ second and final touchdown of the day, an 18-yard Zach Wilson pass to tight Tyler Kroft.

New York (2-0) ends its preseason on Friday night at MetLife Stadium against the Philadelphia Eagles (7:30 p.m. ET, WCBS).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

Robert Saleh lays out expectations for New York Jets cornerbacks

New York Jets, Bless Austin

The lack of a proven force in the New York Jets’ cornerback group didn’t stop Robert Saleh from clearly defining his expectations.

The macabre gift of the New York Jets’ 2020 season was that things became so dire that any move they made over the offseason could’ve been viewed as an improvement. But the Jets’ offseason to-do list could stretch from one end zone to the other after a disastrous two-win season. Even with a cap space surplus, some area on the modern depth chart was going to be neglected and prevent the Jets from becoming immediate contenders.

It’s not hard to find the affected areas.

With matchups against four of the top five passing units from last season looming on their upcoming schedule (Tampa Bay, Buffalo, Houston, Atlanta), the Jets’ secondary remains undermanned and inexperienced as kickoff weekend approaches. The safeties at least have a slight safety blanket (pun intended) with Marcus Maye back on a franchise tag and Lamarcus Joyner, one of only five New Yorkers who are at least 30 years old, coming over from Las Vegas.

The Jets’ front line in the secondary, the cornerback area, leaves much to be desired. Only newcomer Justin Hardee (115 defensive snaps over the past three years) has more than two seasons of NFL experience and he was primarily brought in for his special teams expertise. Four cornerbacks have no experience at all, as the Jets spent the Saturday of draft weekend adding new names to the ranks. Michael Carter II, Jason Pinnock, and Brandin Echols arrived in the draft’s later rounds while Isaiah Dunn was added through undrafted free agency.

At the top of the depth chart, Bless Austin and Bryce Hall…a combined 23 starts between them…are set to take starring roles. Behind them lies a hodgepodge of journeymen (Corey Ballentine, Bennett Jackson) and undrafted youngsters (Javelin Guidry, Zane Lewis, Elijah Campbell, Lamar Jackson…no, not that one, obviously).

Head coach Robert Saleh isn’t worried.

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

One would perhaps expect Saleh, a defensive coach in several assistant stops throughout the NFL, to assemble a more worthy group of defenders for his first year as a head coach. When that proved to be unfeasible, Saleh worked with management to come to a relative compromise of stocking up on young secondary talent on draft weekend Saturday after spending the first two days preparing for the new franchise quarterback’s arrival. So far, he’s happy with the young clay that he gets to mold in his first season at the New York helm.

Saleh doesn’t care about where they’ve been or how they were obtained. He carries one burning question for his new young talents, one he carries with him from his days as the defensive boss in San Francisco.

“Can you win on third down? That’s pretty much it. It’s that simple,” Saleh said on Thursday, per notes from the Jets. “When you’re looking at traits, we had Richard Sherman, who’s all of 6-3, long, incredibly smart, and we’ve had Jason Verrett, who’s all of 5-9, strong and wiry.”

“So they come in all shapes and sizes but the dog mentality, the ability to win in man coverage, the fearlessness to get up there in press (coverage) and win one-on-ones. That’s what matters, because at the end of the day, when it’s crunch time and you’ve got to win in football, it comes down to your ability to win in one-on-one, whether it’s man, zone, however you want to count it.”

The current starters’ respective battles with gridiron adversity are particularly inspiring to a New York team desperate to overcome relentless vibes and reminders of the “same old Jets” concept. Austin, a Queens native, enjoyed a breakout sophomore season at Rutgers but injuries limited him to only five more games in Piscataway over his last two seasons. Hall might’ve been an opening round pick in 2019, but an injury sustained during his senior year banished him to the Saturday wilderness.

To their credit, Austin and Hall have garnered positive reviews in their early camp showings. Brian Costello of the New York Post said that Hall “looks like he is ready to make a jump” in his sophomore season while Austin has been a thorn in the side of Zach Wilson early on. Saleh has been pleased with the early returns, once bringing up the size differences in analyzing each defender.

New York Jets, Bryce Hall

“Bryce is so long and big. Bless is obviously more wiry and twitchy, but they both have an incredible mindset to get up there, get in your face, use their length, use their athleticism,” Saleh said. “What we’ve been doing defensively is we teach a little bit different of a man technique, obviously, and our zones. So try to get them the reps they need to be able to blend the two is not easy and it does take time, but these guys have gotten better every day.”

Just because Austin and Hall have the early edge, however, doesn’t mean that Saleh is going to simply hand the primary duties for them. Saleh has been proud to work the rookie defenders into the rotation, namely calling out Echols and Dunn for “(earning) the right to get a little peek at getting some run with the ones”. He’s also excited for the ongoing nickel group, which appears to consist of Campbell, Carter, and Guidry.

Saleh had a prime opportunity to add in some veteran talent. Both Sherman and Verrett, his former Bay Area proteges, were available on the free agent market, but he opted for a young revolution that can allow for the Jets’ new staff, headlined by Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich to shape their new secondary in their image. Saleh compared the feeling to a roller-coaster on the Garden State Parkway.

“When you’re dealing with young guys, the excitement is like when you’re driving on the freeway and you’re on (empty), you’re like, ‘When’s it going to happen?’ It’s like a roller coaster, but at the same time, you see an unbelievable amount of growth happen from play-in and play-out, and day-in and day-out,” Saleh said. “I’ve seen teams win, I’ve seen teams have growth, you see everything. I’ve seen veteran teams lose, it’s a matter of gaining confidence, gelling, having the ball bounce your way and really getting confidence, and this group is a very confident group, it’s a very young, confident group.”

“They’re having a lot of success here in training camp and when they get to go against Green Bay, and Philadelphia, the Giants, and they get to test themselves against other players, I think that’s where you’ll start to see the identity of this team kind of take shape.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets offseason recap 2021: Cornerbacks

New York Jets, Bless Austin

The New York Jets opted to wait until the latter stages of the NFL Draft to address their issues at cornerback.

Following the conclusion of minicamp activities, the NFL offseason is officially over. The next time the New York Jets convene in Florham Park, they’ll be getting ready for preseason and regular season action for the 2021 campaign. 

With the offseason in the rearview mirror, ESM looks back on the green offseason that was, position-by-position. Our focus on the defense continues by looking back on the cornerback position…

Sep 20, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) throws a pass during the first quarter as New York Jets cornerback Blessuan Austin (31) defends at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

How It Started

Over the past two seasons…a pair of campaigns that could be informally referred to as the post-Trumaine Johnson era when it came to the cornerback depth chart…the Jets have tried to solve their cornerback issues in two different ways. First, they tried throwing veterans at the problem, but former Colts like Pierre Desir and Nate Hairston failed to resolve them. Both Desir and Hairston were part of the Jets’ autumn exodus of 2020, turning the primary corner slots over to younger talents.

To that end, the Jets have turned to the services of day three picks like Bless Austin and Bryce Hall. Austin was, for all intents and purposes, born to play metropolitan football as a Queens native and Rutgers alum. He’s been more than capable of playing an elite level, evidenced by the fact he was second in the Big Ten in pass breakups (14) during his sophomore season, though injuries have stunted his development. Over his first two NFL seasons, Austin has developed a reputation as a strong, aggressive hitter but he has struggled in coverage. Quarterbacks have tallied a 96.1 rating when targeting his receivers over his first two campaigns. Austin’s football story is one of the more inspiring in recent Jets memory, but he’s facing a make-or-break year in terms of on-field production.

Fellow projected starter Bryce Hall has a bit of a longer leash to work with. The Virginia alum was projected to be a top ten pick in 2019 by CBS Sports, but saw his stock fall after a season-ending ankle injury in his senior season. His personal plummet could work to the Jets’ benefit. Hall missed the first eight games of last season but provided a spark of hope for the future in the midst of a lost campaign by earning 36 tackles and an interception (a jaw-dropping one-handed takeaway in the Jets’ first win over the year against the Rams) over the second half of the year.

“He’s got length, he’s got a great brain and he’s got a thirst for the knowledge of the game,” new defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said of Hall, per notes from the Jets. “That’s where eventually he’ll set himself apart I think because he’s just so detailed and he’s a guy that’s like got the callus on his finger from taking notes in practice.”

After the departures of Desir and Hairston, the Jets also employed the services of undrafted depth options like Javelin Guidry and Lamar Jackson. The former was particularly strong in slot coverage and could well play his way into another term with the team this summer. Former New York Giants draft pick Corey Ballentine arrived in November but made a far greater impact as a returner than a defender.

Sep 8, 2018; Evanston, IL, USA; Duke Blue Devils safety Michael Carter II (26) tackles Northwestern Wildcats running back Jeremy Larkin (28) in the first half at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

How It’s Going

One would assume a defensive-minded head coach like Robert Saleh would try to bolster the cornerback group. Saleh, if anyone, would know the benefits of acquiring veteran help in the secondary from his days in the Bay Area. For example, San Francisco foe-turned-friend Richard Sherman became a valuable mentor to Emmanuel Moseley during the 49ers’ Super Bowl run in 2019.

But the Jets’ 2021 offseason, despite several bastions of hope, was doomed from the start in the sense that so many areas needed adjusting that some position group was almost guaranteed to be neglected. The cornerback slot was made to bite the proverbial bullet.

The Jets were mostly quiet on the free agency front, re-signing journeyman Bennett Jackson and adding Justin Hardee, a former New Orleans Saint better known for his efforts as a gunner than a defender. They finally addressed the cornerback spot in earnest on the final day of last spring’s NFL Draft, adding Michael Carter II in the fifth round before picking up Jason Pinnock and Brandin Echols in the sixth. Carter (no relation to his fellow New York draft pick of the same name) could immediately contribute in the nickel and slot, while Pinnock and Echols are likely long-term projects whose immediate futures lie in special teams coverage. Each rookie, however, could be pressed into action if the top veteran names falter.

New York Jets, Brian Poole
Oct 27, 2019; Jacksonville, FL, USA; New York Jets cornerback Brian Poole (34) jogs on the field before the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Are They Better Off?

The 2021 Jets’ cornerback endeavors are currently the definition of youth in revolt, as Hardee is the oldest representative at 27.

Much like the damage Le’Veon Bell left behind in the running back slot, the aftermath of the Johnson disaster possibly scared the Jets from bestowing big bucks on the free agent market. The 2021 class wasn’t exactly a game changer: the most notable names were either inked to expensive short-term deals (Kyle Fuller, one year for $9.5 million in Denver) or even pricier long options (Adoree Jackson to the Giants at $39 million over three years). None of the available names (William Jackson, Levi Wallace, and Shaq Griffin also among them) were going to push the Jets over the postseason threshold, so general manager Joe Douglas might deserve some kudos for not making a panic purchase.

Having said that, it’s surprising to see the Jets hold their ground with their current, unproven corner depth chart with veteran names like Sherman (one of Saleh’s most ardent supporters) and Brian Poole (a very serviceable green slot option over the last two seasons) lingering in free agency [EDIT, 11:55 a.m. ET: Sherman has been booked on charges of “Burglary Domestic Violence” in Seattle and has been denied bail]. It’s understandable that the Jets probably wish to ring in a new era with young, mostly homegrown talent, but that doesn’t mean that they should have to go about it alone.

Final Offseason Grade: C

Will the Jets regret waiting so long to address the cornerback slot? Follow @GeoffJMags on Twitter and continue the conversation

Waived New York Giants corner Ballentine picked up by Jets

New York Giants, Corey Ballentine

The New York Giants couldn’t find space for Corey Ballentine with Will Hernandez making his return from the COVID-19 list, but it didn’t take long for another team to make a spot for the cornerback. That team happens to be the crosstown neighbor of the Giants, the New York Jets.

The Jets have picked Ballentine up from waivers after the Giants moved on from him to make space for the comeback of Hernandez. This is Ballentine’s second season in the league, and the cornerback has had more playing time this year after only getting a couple of starts last season. However, he hasn’t been a consistent main player for the Giants as he’s only played in roughly 62% of the snaps during his appearances this season.

James Bradberry has locked down the number one cornerback spot as an elite player and the remaining spots have largely been taken up by other players. Isaac Yiadom and Darnay Holmes and others are ahead of Ballentine in the rotation, contributing to his exit from the team.

He also served as a special teams player but didn’t have exceptional numbers as a return man and has fallen out of favor in that role too.

Ballentine came into the league with some fame, as despite being a sixth round draft pick, he was injured in a shooting that also killed college teammate Dwane Simmons. He made it past the adversity to play for the Giants in the NFL, and after departing the franchise, will have another chance to make it while playing for the other occupant of MetLife Stadium.

New York Giants: Can sophomore Corey Ballentine secure the CB2 job?

New York Giants, Corey Ballentine

When the New York Giants drafted Corey Ballentine in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL draft, nobody actually expected him to earn starting reps. With his solid physical traits, Ballentine has the upside to develop into a quality corner, but sticking him into the fire during his rookie season backfired.

Of course, earning live game experience in the NFL will help him moving forward, but the thrashing he took was indicative of his late-round drafting. In 2019, he racked up 26 combined tackles, and two passes defended over 13 appearances. He logged a 64.3 completion percentage against and allowed four touchdowns, but showed he can tackle efficiently, missing just one tackle on 27 attempts.

With the 2020 regular season under a month away, Ballentine will have to expedite his development process. Former first-round corner DeAndre Baker was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, and Sam Beal opted out of the 2020 season. This left a bevy of young players to compete for the CB2 spot. Aside from Ballentine, Julian Love, Darnay Holmes, Chris Williamson, and undrafted free agent Prince Smith will all be seeking starting reps.

The New York Giants are starting a problem right in the face:

The issue here is quite obvious, a lack of experience and proven talent could be hurtful at a starting corner position. Love has the most reps at corner coming from Notre Dame, but holmes represent the option with the most athletic upside.

Then there is Ballantine, who has stood out in recent days during practice. Of course, what we see on the practice field frequently doesn’t reflect during a live regular-season game. On Friday, he broke up several passes, including a potential touchdown in the red zone.

The young Washburn corner is seeking growth from his coaches, which is a positive step forward:

“The thing that I appreciate about Corey is that he wants to be coached,” defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson said. “He has come to me and said, ‘I want to be coached. I want to know, and I want feel like I can go out there and play confident.’ I’m making sure that he feels confident when he goes out, giving him instruction, and making sure that he can give it back to me. He’s a guy who has some ability. He’s in the mix, just like everybody else is, to play a big role for us. I’m excited to work with him.”

Without a preseason to utilize, the Giants will have to stick with players that look good in training camp. Ultimately, that is not the recipe for success, but it is something they must do.

New York Giants: Corey Ballentine Among Practice Standouts

New York Giants, Corey Ballentine

The New York Giants really need someone to step up at the second cornerback spot. While a lot of fans were already unsure about that spot thanks to DeAndre Baker being the returning option from last year, his legal trouble only puts the Giants in a worse spot than they were at the start of the year.

You might not like DeAndre Baker and his play. But the Giants aren’t deep at his position. If Baker stepping up is an uncertainty, the Giants getting good play at CB2 without him is an even bigger one.

However, training camp is underway and one player at cornerback is standing out right now.

Corey Ballentine earns praise from Jerome Henderson

It’s worth paying attention to the CB2 position battle because the Giants probably aren’t going to have Baker available this season. It’s also a bit late to get a good replacement from free agency, leaving the Giants with what they have now. One of those players is Corey Ballentine, who seems to have pretty good results so far during training camp.

He earned some praise from defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson, which is encouraging for anyone wondering if the Giants have the talent to compete at Ballentine’s position this year.

“The thing that I appreciate about Corey is that he wants to be coached,” Henderson said on Ballentine.

“He has come to me and said, ‘I want to be coached. I want to know, and I want feel like I can go out there and play confident.’ I’m making sure that he feels confident when he goes out, giving him instruction, and making sure that he can give it back to me. He’s a guy who has some ability. He’s in the mix, just like everybody else is, to play a big role for us. I’m excited to work with him,” Henderson continued.

From Eli Apple to Janoris Jenkins, the Giants have a minor trend of defensive backs who don’t have great attitudes. Someone like Ballentine is a nice change from that.

Ballentine doesn’t have as much experience from 2019 to build off of as Baker, but he does have some. He made it into 13 games, playing as a defensive back and kick returner. He had 26 tackles and 2 passes defended, a number that will likely increase over time as the absence of Baker gives a shot for more young defensive backs to find playing time on the field in 2020.

New York Giants: Top Players/Positions To Monitor In Training Camp 2020

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

Football is back! The New York Giants officially reported to training camp on Tuesday, marking the beginning of the 2020 NFL season. Veterans reported to training camp today as the team does its first wave of COVID-19 testing. This will be a crucial season for the Giants as they enter the year with a brand new coaching staff and a revamped roster.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no preseason this year, making training camp that much more important. Many of those players who standout in the preseason to earn their roster spots will not be afforded such an opportunity this year. Instead, the Giants’ new coaching staff will have to gauge their players’ talents in training camp alone.

With that being the case, who are the top players, or what are the top positions to watch during training camp in 2020?

You can check out the video version of this article below, or continue scrolling for the written version:

New York Giants: Three Players Already On The Roster Who Could Replace DeAndre Baker

New York Giants, Darnay Holmes, Julian Love, Jabrill Peppers, DeAndre Baker, Xavier McKinney, Corey Ballentine

The New York Giants are once again at the forefront of sports media for all the wrong reasons. Last night, disappointing and gutwrenching news broke about Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker. The Miami Police Department issued an arrest warrant on DeAndre Baker. Baker is accused of committing four counts of armed robbery and aggravated assault. With Baker likely to be jailed, the Giants will need to look elsewhere at cornerback and find his replacement. Here are three players that are already on the roster who could potentially replace DeAndre Baker:

Julian Love

Julian Love started five games at safety for the Giants in 2019. He was expected to continue in a rotational safety role in 2020, but expectations have been subverted by DeAndre Baker’s incident. This makes Julian Love a potential option at outside cornerback.

Julian Love played safety as a rookie in the NFL, but he played cornerback in college. At that position, Love recorded 32 pass breakups and 4 interceptions over his last two years at Notre Dame.

“Pure and simple, Love is a cover guy who possesses the feet, hips, instincts and competitiveness you want in a corner.” – NFL.com analyst Lance Zierelein

Sam Beal

The Giants had high hopes when they selected Sam Beal in the third round of the 2018 Supplemental Draft. So far, he has not exactly lived up to expectations. Injuries held Beal back in his first two seasons, but he was not overly impressive when he found the field.

Sam Beal played in 6 games and started 3 games in 2019. In those games, Beal allowed a 76.2% completion percentage when targeted. He allowed opposing receivers to gain 171 yards and 1 touchdown. Opposing quarterbacks recorded a passer rating of 115.4 against Sam Beal. If Beal is going to replace DeAndre Baker, the Giants will need him to improve his performance significantly.

Corey Ballentine

Corey Ballentine, the Giants’ 2019 sixth-round draft pick, could be an option to replace DeAndre Baker. Unfortunately, Ballentine’s situation is similar to Sam Beal’s. If he wants to earn this promotion, he needs to improve his performance.

Ballentine dealt with some injuries in 2019, but he did manage to play in 13 games and start 2 games. While Ballentine’s performance was slightly better than Beal’s, there is still a lot of room for improvement.

Corey Ballentine allowed opposing offenses to complete 64.3% of their passes in his coverage. They totaled 393 yards and 4 touchdowns against Ballentine, too. Ballentine was a rookie, so his struggles are understood. However, if his impressive performances in last year’s training camp and preseason are any indication as to what Ballentine has in store for the future, then there is reason to believe he could earn the job.

Meet The New York Giants’ New & Improved 2020 Secondary

New York Giants, Darnay Holmes, Julian Love, Jabrill Peppers, DeAndre Baker, Xavier McKinney, Corey Ballentine

The New York Giants‘ secondary dealt with peaks and valleys in 2019. There were some big-plays mixed in with plenty of rookie mistakes and persistent struggles against top offenses. New York invested a lot of draft capital into its secondary in 2019 and doubled down this offseason.

The Giants made a big splash-signing at cornerback in free agency. They then followed that up by drafting a potential day-one starter at slot cornerback this past weekend. The New York Giants’ secondary is now loaded with young, versatile talents. The potential is there for the Giants to have one of the best young secondaries in the NFL in 2020.

The Versatile Safeties

Jabrill Peppers, Julian Love, and Xavier McKinney combine to create arguably the most versatile safety group in the NFL. Each of the players in this trio can line up in at least three different positions. Julian Love has played slot cornerback, deep free safety, and in-the-box strong safety. Jabrill Peppers is primarily an in-the-box strong safety but has also played linebacker and deep safety. In college, Xavier McKinney played over 200 snaps at three different positions; 323 snaps in the box, 227 in the slot, and 271 deep (PFF).

Thie trio of versatile safeties will allow Patrick Graham to be very creative with his defense. Having three different safeties that can each play three different positions efficiently will keep opposing offenses guessing. Typically there are only two safeties on the field at a time, but with this trio, Giants fans can expect to see plenty of three-safety looks.

Young, Talented Outside Cornerbacks

The Giants have invested heavily in their secondary over the past two years. They spent a first-round pick on DeAndre Baker last year. Baker struggled for much of his rookie season but seemed to show significant signs of improvement towards the end of the year. In 2020, DeAndre will start on the outside again and hopefully build on a promising finish to the 2019 season.

Starting opposite of Baker as the Giants’ primary cornerback will be newly signed free agent James Bradberry. Bradberry, coming from Carolina, is no stranger to following top-tier receiving talent. Bradberry shadowed the likes of Julio Jones, Mike Evans, and Michael Thomas twice a year as a member of the Panthers. He will instantly join the Giants’ secondary as the best coverage man and take on the most challenging tasks for the defense week to week.

DeAndre Baker and James Bradberry will man the outside cornerback positions. But who will play the slot/nickel cornerback position? There will be a competition to see who gets that starting role but expect to see a rotation in this position.

Nickel Cornerback Competition

Last year, the slot cornerback position was manned by Grant Haley and Corey Ballentine. Haley struggled immensely in coverage but demonstrated impressive open-field tackling. Ballentine, a sixth-round draft pick from 2019, was not ready to perform and struggled considerably. But he showed a lot of promise last preseason, so hopefully, Ballentine can take a step forward and improve in 2020.

The latest addition to the slot cornerback position is 2020 fourth-round pick, Darnay Holmes, out of UCLA. Holmes played on the outside in college, but his limited size will move him into the slot at the professional level. Holmes did try out nickel cornerback at the Senior Bowl this year, and he said he loved it. Analysts pointed out that he excelled in that new role in Mobile.

The Giants have plenty of depth at the slot cornerback position. But who will be the starter at the nickel? As I stated earlier, expect to see rotation. Since day one, Joe Judge has made it clear: players will play to their strengths. They will not be asked to do things at which they are not proficient. These three slot cornerbacks all have different skillsets that can be applied in various ways.

Maximizing Potential Through Rotations

For example, Grant Haley struggles in coverage but is a solid open-field tackler. This is why the Giants can use Haley in goal-line or short-yardage packages. Third-and-goal, fourth-and-two, Grant Haley can go in there and make a clutch tackle to keep the defense short of the line to gain.

On the flip side, in long-yardage situations and obvious passing-downs, Darnay Holmes’s speed and athleticism will come into play. He has the speed to keep up with quicker receivers going deep and the coverage ability to stick with slot receivers on deep-breaking routes.

The Giants’ two-year investment into the secondary is paying off. They have the versatility and flexibility to move their players around and put them in the best situations possible to make an impact. Giants fans should be ecstatic about the foundation that has been laid out for the future of the defense.

A Look At The New York Giants’ 2020 Secondary After Signing James Bradberry

The New York Giants made a big splash signing today. Dave Gettleman and company signed cornerback James Bradberry to a three-year, $15 million deal, making him one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in the NFL. Bradberry is 26 years old and was drafted in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft by Dave Gettleman and the Carolina Panthers.

James Bradberry is the Giants’ new number one cornerback. He will be the guy that follows opposing teams’ primary receiver. Bradberry will join a youthful Giants secondary that has received a heavy investment of assets in recent years. The former Carolina Panthers corner will be a big upgrade for the Giants’ secondary.

The Killer B’s

The New York Giants’ cornerbacks in 2020 (barring any more additions) will be as follows: James Bradberry, DeAndre Baker, Same Beal, Corey Ballentine, and Grant Haley. The oldest of the bunch is Bradberry at 26-years-old. Baker and Ballentine will both be entering their sophomore seasons while Beal enters his third pro season.

The Giants have a young group of cornerbacks that will start the 2020 NFL season. Youth, of course, means inexperience, also. That could be New York’s defensive downfall. But hopefully adding a veteran cornerback in James Bradberry helps the rest of the group develop.

The Two Jay’s

Jabrill Peppers and Julian Love will enter the 2020 NFL season as the Giants’ starting safeties (unless the team signs or drafts somebody uber-talented between now and September). The team’s safety duo provides more youthful talent to the defense. Julian Love is 21 and entering his second NFL season. Jabrill Peppers is 24, entering his fourth NFL season and second season with the New York Giants.

Julian Love showed promise filling in as a starter for the injured Peppers in the final five games of the 2019 season. He recorded 37 combined tackles, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, and only 4 missed tackles in 2019. The former collegiate slot cornerback converted to safety as a rookie and allowed only 190 yards and 1 touchdown in coverage.

Jabrill Peppers suffered an injury in 2019 that caused him to miss the final five games of the season. Up to that point, however, Jabrill was performing as possibly the best player on the Giants’ defense. In 11 games, JP totaled 76 combined tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 1 interception, and allowed only 1 touchdown in coverage.

The Giants’ young, talented secondary gives fans a reason to be excited heading into the 2020 NFL season. The youthful unit has all the potential in the world. Expect an impressive turnaround from the Giants’ pass-defense in 2020.