New York Giants: Rookie Darnay Holmes quietly having impressive rookie season

New York Giants, Darnay Holmes

The New York Giants have seen their 2020 rookie class impress through the first nine weeks of the season. First-round pick Andrew Thomas struggled early one but has improved his play week-by-week. Third-round offensive tackle Matt Peart has played limited snaps but impressed with each performance. And fourth-round defensive back Darnay Holmes has not had his name called much by commentators but, quietly, has had an impressive rookie season.

Darnay Holmes is a rookie cornerback out of UCLA that the Giants have been starting in the slot this season. Slot cornerback was a major area of weakness for the Giants in 2019, but it has not been the defense’s kryptonite this season. This is in large part due to Darnay Holmes playing at a high level as a rookie.

Darnay Holmes Stats and Highlights

According to Pro Football Focus, Darnay Holmes is the only rookie cornerback in the NFL with 15+ targets to not allow a touchdown this season. Darnay has been targeted in coverage 39 times and has held his matchups scoreless. Some of his toughest matchups include CeeDee Lamb and JuJu Smith-Schuster. This is especially impressive when considering that Darnay Holmes has never played slot cornerback before this season. At UCLA, Holmes was an outside cornerback. He has made the transition inside for the first time this season.

Darnay Holmes has 2 pass deflections on the season so far. He has also totaled 21 combined tackles and even gotten busy as a pass-rusher with 0.5 sack, 2 pressures, and 1 quarterback hit on 14 blitz attempts.

One area where Darnay can improve, however, is his tackling consistency. Holmes has missed 5 tackles on the season for a 19.2% missed tackle percentage, a percentage that is a bit too high. Overall, it has been an impressive rookie season for Darnay Holmes as he starts his first career games at the slot cornerback position. Holmes is a young and talented player with room to grow and he could grow into a large role on the Giants’ defense long-term.

Giants Preparing For Bears’ Receivers

New York Giants, James Bradberry

The 0-1 New York Giants will travel to Chicago to face the 1-0 Bears this Sunday in a matchup that should be a better fit for them than the Steelers were in Week 1.

The Giants played the Bears not too long ago, last year in Week 12, with the Bears winning, 19-14. In that game, the Bears’ wide receivers had big games. Allen Robinson caught six of 10 targets for 131 yards and a touchdown. Anthony Miller added 77 yards on six receptions.

Last week the Giants’ secondary didn’t give up any big plays to the Steelers length-wise, but were soft in some areas. Rookie Darnay Holmes played the slot for the Giants and contained well but allowed five of six passes his way to be completed. This week, he’ll draw Miller, who just might tea this up.

From Pro Football Focus:

Anthony Miller has the third-best matchup of the week, according to the wide receiver/cornerback matchup chart. He played 91% of his snaps in the slot, which lines him up against Darnay Holmes, who had 100% of his snaps in the slot. Holmes allowed five of six passes thrown his way to be caught for 56 yards. Miller led all slot receivers in yards per route run in the slot (3.8) among those with at least 18 slot routes. If there is any week to insert Miller into your starting lineup, this is it.

Giants’ head coach Joe Judge will rely on the tape of last year’s game even though many of the players the Giants will send out to cover the Bears this week weren’t on the team last year.

“I think the biggest thing that helps you from watching last year’s matchup is some of the similar players we have on the roster, and some of the ways they really looked to isolate and attack guys who are still on the roster. Schematically, there are some differences, obviously. You try to look at a lot in terms of coordinators, in terms of the experience you’ve had against them. Whether that’s going back to the Miami days with (Bill) Lazor, whether that’s going back and watching some of Pat’s (Graham) experience in Green Bay against the Bears, or maybe some of the old New England games, some of our defenses, how they attacked it, how they used it. Then offensively, how they attack both our personnel and then also maybe when Jason (Garrett) was at Dallas. You look at everything you can to gather as much knowledge and then try to form how you think they’re going to attack you and have a plan that fits that.”

Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham knows what Robinson is capable of and is wary of what he might do to his newly-formed secondary.

“I think what makes him special is his catch radius,” said Graham. “That’s one of those, I remember when I first heard that, I was like, ‘what in the world does that mean?’ His catch radius is pretty good. I think he’s competitive, he’s really really competitive. Whether it’s at the line of scrimmage or further down the field, getting open and away from defenders. The finish on the ball, he does a great job of tracking the ball and bringing it away from defenders’ hands and always ending up with the ball. Of course, when you have go-to guy like that, and obviously he’s a heavy target for the quarterback in terms of going to him. We have to adjust, whether it’s a matchup thing or just an awareness in coverage. You always have to adjust for those great players. Any time it’s a great player, I don’t know when you wouldn’t adjust or have some awareness of those guys. Sometimes the plan works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Any time you have a good player, one of those great players, you have to do something to adjust to it. Hopefully the plan works out.”

Hopefully.

 

New York Giants: Positions To Keep An Eye On With Cuts Around The Corner

New York Giants

The New York Giants will set their fifty-three man roster in a week from today. Over this next week, the team will be determining who will stay and who will go. The Giants do have a few positions of need, and they also have few positions of strength. Ahead of camp cuts, which positions are worth keeping a close eye on?

UDFA Wide Receivers

Behind Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, and Golden Tate, the Giants have a positional battle at the wide receiver position. Corey Coleman will be competing with a number of rookie wide receivers to win the fourth wide receiver position.

New York has four undrafted free agent wide receivers currently on the roster. Derrick Dillon, Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack, and Cody White were all signed by the Giants this offseason. They have all had their fair share of ups and downs in camp, but Victor and Mack have had a few more standout plays.

There are also two other receivers making their names known in camp: David Stills and Alex Bachman. Both players have impressed in practice and could earn themselves a spot on the final roster. For all of these wide receivers, this next week of practice is crucial.

New York Giants: Rookie DB Darnay Holmes Standing Out At Practice

New York Giants, Darnay Holmes

The New York Giants had their first intra-squad scrimmage today. This was the first opportunity for the Giants’ offense to matchup against the team’s defense. There were a few highlight plays as the New Jersey beat writers live-tweeted the practice game.

The reporters tweeted after the scrimmage had ended any stats or highlights they recorded during the game. One name that kept popping up: Darnay Holmes. In fact, this rookie’s name has popped up a number of times since training camp started.

Darnay Holmes Practice Highlights

Darnay Holmes turned heads today at practice. The fourth-round rookie out of UCLA put together an impressive performance during the Giants’ first scrimmage of training camp. And this was not the first impressive day that Holmes has had during training camp.

Holmes was seen making an impressive pass breakup just a few days ago:

In today’s scrimmage, Darnay Holmes made a spectacular interception down the sideline in coverage against Golden Tate. Holmes stuck with Tate step for step, then lunged to make a full-extension interception. Check it out:

This was also not Darnay’s first interception of training camp, according to reports. Holmes has been balling out in every practice. He was listed as a standout player in each of the first three practice reports on Giants.com.

The Giants’ secondary had some major question marks heading into training camp. The absence of DeAndre Baker and Sam Beal was worrying. The Giants did not appear to have a capable outside cornerback to play opposite of James Bradberry.

Many fans were too quick to pen Darnay Holmes down as a pure slot cornerback. Darnay has been cross-training with the Giants at both inside and outside cornerback. The interception he made today was from the outside position. Darnay played outside cornerback throughout his entire collegiate career. He played slot cornerback at the Senior Bowl this year and was very impressive, which is why many expected him to make the transition to slot in the NFL. So far, though, it seems like Darnay will be able to make an impact from either cornerback position. If he continues to play like this, Darnay Holmes could see himself starting on the outside opposite of James Bradberry in the regular season.

New York Giants: Darnay Holmes Being Cross-Trained At Inside and Outside Cornerback

New York Giants, Darnay Holmes

The New York Giants’ young secondary has had a rocky offseason. Second-year cornerback DeAndre Baker was arrested earlier this summer and has several severe criminal charges being prosecuted. On top of that, cornerback Sam Beal has opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to COVID-19 concerns, leaving the Giants even more thin at cornerback.

Luckily for the Gmen, there is a new addition to the cornerback group that could fill the hole that has been opened. Darnay Holmes, the Giants’ fourth-round selection out of UCLA was initially thought to be a slot cornerback exclusively. But as the offseason rolled on, many fans have come to the realization that Darnay Holmes has a pretty good chance of being an outside cornerback for the Giants. Now, in training camp, Holmes is officially training for both the inside and outside cornerback positions.

Darnay Holmes Being Cross-Trained

New York’s defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson spoke with the media today and shared some insight on the state of the cornerback position. At the outside cornerback position, Henderson said that all the cornerbacks are “competing” and that the team does not have “a true depth chart” at cornerback just yet.

When asked specifically about Darnay Holmes, Henderson had this to say:

We’re cross-training him right now, outside and inside, as all our players are doing right now. He’s doing a good job in camp, but he has a long, long way to go. We haven’t even gotten to the pads yet to really see. That’ll be when you can really see what you have in those guys, is when we put the pads on and it’s a little more competitive, it’s real and he’s going against guys. Right now, we’ve just been in shorts. He’s been positive, doing some positive things. He has some growing to do. But we’ll see what he is when we put the pads on and actually compete against each other. – Jerome Henderson on Darnay Holmes 8/14/20 via Giants.com

Darnay Holmes has been cross-training at both outside and inside cornerback, according to Jerome Henderson. This is exciting news for Giants fans who were worried about the lack of depth at outside cornerback. Now the question is, will Darnay Holmes be able to succeed on the outside, and will it suit him better than the inside?

Could Darnay Holmes Succeed On The Outside?

Darnay Holmes was drafted to play inside at the nickel cornerback position. But this would be a first for Darnay. The cornerback spent his collegiate career at UCLA playing outside cornerback. Darnay’s playing style is actually similar to that of a prototypical outside cornerback. The problem is, Holmes is small. Darnay stands in at roughly 5 feet 10 inches and 195 pounds (but it would not be surprising if those numbers are a little high).

How small is Darnay Holmes, really? When comparing him to the Giants’ last outside cornerback, Janoris Jenkins, they are about the same height and weight. So maybe size will not be a big issue for Holmes. Darnay could continue playing the position he was so good at in college with the Giants.

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: Jabrill Peppers and Darnay Holmes Training Together

The New York Giants have put together a new, young secondary these past two years. The Giants acquired the likes of Jabrill Peppers, Julian Love, and Corey Ballentine last year. This offseason, the Giants signed James Bradberry and drafted Xavier McKinney, Darnay Holmes, and Chris Williamson. The team now has a highly-talented group of defensive backs to provide their secondary with plenty of versatility.

With training camp supposed to begin in just a few days (but who knows at this point?), a couple of the Giants’ defensive backs have been training together in preparation for the new season. A video was recently posted of rookie cornerback Darnay Holmes and safety Jabrill Peppers training together:

Peppers And Holmes Breakout Season?

Jabrill Peppers was a turnover machine last season. Peppers played in 11 games and forced 4 total turnovers (3 forced fumbles and 1 pick-six). Jabrill also totaled an impressive 76 combined tackles and 5 tackles for loss.

Had Peppers managed to stay healthy, he could have been a Pro Bowl candidate:

2019 estimated stats: 16 games — 110 combined tackles, 7 TFL, 3 QB hits, 7 PD, 4 FF, 1 INT – Alexander Wilson of ESM

If Peppers is healthy for a full 16 games in 2020, he has serious Pro Bowl potential. Especially now that the Giants have talented players surrounding Peppers and a new and improved defensive scheme for him to thrive in.

Darnay Holmes could also be in line for a big season. The rookie cornerback out of UCLA was a talented player during his time in college. Darnay played outside cornerback but, due to his size, he will likely play slot cornerback with the Giants. Holmes will have the opportunity to take reps at both positions during training camp so the Giants’ coaching staff can determine which position suits him best.

Video of Darnay Holmes practicing with and learning from Jabrill Peppers is exciting for Giants fans. Peppers is a young leader on the Giants’ defense that will likely don a captain’s patch in 2020. Slot cornerback has been a position of weakness for the Giants recently and Darnay Holmes could be the player to fix that.

New York Giants: Darnay Holmes Will Be Key Contributor To Team’s Secondary

New York Giants, Darnay Holmes

In the 2020 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected three defensive backs. The Giants were lucky enough to steal safety Xavier McKinney in the second round, but they then added two cornerbacks later on in the draft. Darnay Holmes was selected in the fourth round and Chris Williamson was selected in the sixth round.

With those second and fourth-round selections, it appears that the Giants found two starting defensive backs in this year’s draft. McKinney was a first-round talent that will be an instant impact player in the Giants’ defense. But the biggest sleeper-selection for the Giants in 2020 was Darnay Holmes out of UCLA.

Why Holmes Should Start Immediately

One of the weakest positions on the Giants’ roster last season was at slot cornerback. Time and time again, Grant Haley, Corey Ballentine, and any other corners who played that nickel position were seen trailing behind wide receivers, giving up big plays in coverage. Granted, Haley was excellent in run defense, however, he was a true liability in pass coverage.

With Darnay Holmes now on the roster, the slot cornerback position should not be a weakness anymore. Despite playing outside cornerback for the entirety of his collegiate career, Holmes projected as a nickel corner, so that is what he played at the 2020 Senior Bowl. Holmes turned heads, constantly making plays and impressing scouts in Mobile.

Holmes was projected to be a nickel cornerback due to his size. Darnay stands in at roughly 5 feet 10 inches and 195 pounds (but it would not be surprising if those numbers are a little high). A highly skilled player already, Darnay Holmes could be a day-one starter at the slot cornerback position. But Giants fans shouldn’t write him off as an outside cornerback just yet.

Darnay Holmes On The Outside

Despite being undersized, there are plenty of people who believe Darnay Holmes could succeed as an outside cornerback. This could be especially helpful with DeAndre Baker’s confusing legal situation that is still ongoing. The Giants might have a hole at their second outside cornerback position and Darnay Holmes could be the young man to fill that hole.

“Darnay Holmes projects best as a boundary corner in off-man coverage. Holmes’ stature is probably best suited for the nickel, but some pedestrian tackling enthusiasm suggests he’d thrive more in a true cover role.” – Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network

Preparing For The Season

Darnay Holmes spoke with Giants.com today, stating that he is “ready to rock” entering his rookie season:

“I’m pretty much sharpening my mind. At the end of the day, everyone is at the same skill set. Everybody is on the same playing field. Now it’s like, ‘How am I going to separate myself?’ I’m constantly placing people in my corner who have been in this realm, constantly educating myself about myself, educating myself about this game. So, once I step foot on that turf or on that grass, I’m ready to rock and I have that unwavering faith and belief in myself.” – Darnay Holmes via Giants.com

New York Giants Heading Into 2020 With Versatile, Young Secondary

The New York Giants have built up their defensive secondary in the past few years. The Giants have invested numerous assets into their secondary, both through the NFL Draft and free agency. New York has added a lot of young, talented players to their defensive secondary. But the best part about all of these players is how extraordinarily versatile they are.

Maximum Versatility

The Giants’ secondary will be versatile in 2020. Head coach Joe Judge emphasized versatility in his introductory press conference and he has just the right group of guys in the secondary to fit that mold. James Bradberry, Xavier McKinney, Jabrill Peppers, Darnay Holmes, and Julian Love are all young, versatile talents that will help the defense succeed next season.

Xavier McKinney

According to Pro Football Focus, Xavier McKinney played everywhere for Alabama — 323 snaps in the box, 227 in the slot, and 271 deep. Many Giants fans had hoped the team would select Isaiah Simmons fourth overall. Simmons was the ultra-versatile linebacker prospect that ended up with the Cardinals. The Giants took Andrew Thomas, passing on Simmons and his versatility, but they were able to land the next best thing in Xavier McKinney in round two.

Darnay Holmes

The Giants’ other exciting draft pick in the secondary, Darnay Holmes, is also a versatile player. Holmes spent his entire collegiate career playing outside cornerback. Entering the NFL this season, Holmes will likely make the transition to the inside and be the team’s nickel cornerback. However, Darnay could compete for the second outside cornerback position. Do not rule him out as an outside cornerback just yet- Darnay has the talents to play both positions.

James Bradberry IV

James Bradberry was another new addition for the Giants’ defense in 2020. Bradberry was a splash signing for New York in free agency and he will serve as the team’s primary cornerback on the outside. But James is another player that has the versatility to play both inside and outside. He rarely played slot cornerback in Carolina, but he was sufficient when lined up there. Another aspect of James’s versatility is his ability to shadow any receiver. Bradberry followed the opposing team’s top receiver in each game with the Panthers. He will likely play a similar role in the Giants’ defense.

21% of James Bradberry’s career coverage snaps have been while aligned against Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, or Mike Evans. James Bradberry also recorded 9 pass-breakups last year, tied for 16th in the NFL. Also 20th in NFL passer rating against (78.9) min of 550 snaps (PFF). Bradberry is also the oldest player in the Giants’ secondary at only 26-years-old.

Jabrill Peppers

Jabrill Peppers displayed his versatility in his first season with the Giants in 2019. Entering the NFL Draft in 2017, Peppers was considered a “Swiss Army Knife.” He truly did it all in college, lining up all over Michigan’s defense and making a significant impact on special teams. Peppers was mainly a box safety with the Giants last season, but he did line up in the slot and at free safety on numerous occasions.

Julian Love

In 2019, rookie defensive back Julian Love was a pleasant surprise on the Giants’ defense. The fourth-round pick was projected as a slot cornerback upon being drafted. However, he ended up converting to the safety position in the NFL. But Love still has his coverage skills from college and could compete for the Giants’ second outside cornerback position in 2020.

Julian Love could potentially line up all over the defense in 2020. He could line up as an outside cornerback, move back into the slot, and continue to play both free and strong safety. Adding Xavier McKinney into the mix with an already strong tandem in Love and Peppers could give the Giants one of the best safety groups in the NFL.

New York Giants: Darnay Holmes can be more than just a slot corner

New York Giants, Darnay Holmes

When the New York Giants initially drafted Darnay Holmes out of UCLA, most assumed he would fill the nickel corner position at the NFL level. Having never played an interior corner spot, Holmes experienced his first reps during the Senior Bowl, where he dominated opposing pass-catchers.

However, without any live game action in the slot, it is impossible to know what he’s capable of at the NFL level. There is no question his frame fits the mold for the position at 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds.

The expectation is that the Giants will inject him into a competition battle with Grant Haley, Julian Love, and potentially Corey Ballentine. Holmes has fantastic physical traits and athleticism, making him an excellent option to fill a position that has been problematic for the past few years.

But Holmes is more than capable of playing on the outside, and as we await the results of DeAndre Baker’s case, which has since become more complicated, Holmes should be training for both spots.

His versatility and toughness define the former UCLA player. In 2018, he posted respectable numbers. Over 12 games, he logged 36 solo tackles, 48 total, 1.0 tackles for a loss, three interceptions, eight passes defended, and two forced fumbles.

Considered to be one of college football’s rising stars, Holmes had a tough 2019, as he suffered a high ankle sprain. However, being a team captain and leader, Holmes returned far too early and played on the injury despite medical advice. He ended up playing in 10 games, logging 23 solo tackles, 33 total, two interceptions, six passes defended, and zero forced fumbles. The injury clearly affected his production, but with that issue alleviated, the expectation is that he can return to form in 2020.

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What makes Darnay Holmes so versatile for the New York Giants?

The Giants have plenty of players in their secondary, the issue is none of them are proven aside from James Bradberry. If Baker and his legal issues are not solved within the next few weeks, Holmes could be asked to compete at both the slot and outside corner positions. He has the experience and tenacity to succeed at both.

NFL analysts projected him as a nickel corner in the NFL, as he is a bit short and light to match up against bigger receivers on the outside. While I do think he will end up at that position, allowing him to compete on the outside is beneficial for the entire team. His exceptional intelligence, character, and work ethic make him a great candidate to land a starting job in his rookie year.