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 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

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.

Did the New York Giants land 2 potential steals on offense and defense in 2020 NFL Draft?

New York Giants, Shane LeMieux, Darnay Holmes

The New York Giants need to have a fantastic 2020 NFL draft to finally piece together a team that has struggled over the past few seasons to produce any sort of quality. Finding late-round value picks that can contribute in future years is essential toward growth. General manager Dave Gettleman and head coach Joe Judge made it a priority to address the linebacker and offensive line positions.

While it is too soon to tell if the Giants really landed any steals in the draft, there are several players with high upside we can keep an eye on.

Here are two players on both sides of the ball the New York Giants could develop into starters:

1.) Offensive steal: Shane LeMieux

When the Giants drafted Shane LeMieux in the fifth round, expectations were low. Any late-round offensive linemen are generally considered to be projects that require at least one season of actual development.

However, Lemieux brings a streak of toughness and physicality the team is lacking in the trenches. While his balance can be thrown off, and he is slow off his stance, there is plenty of physical abilities to work with.

“Shane’s a guy like Dave said, he plays with nasty,” added Giants head coach Joe Judge. “You turn the Auburn game on and right from the first snap he’s tossing bodies around. You can’t help but watch him. In a lot of cross over tape he jumps out at you as well. He’s a guy that’s going to have interior swing value. We’re going to cross train him guard and center. It’s going to be something he has been working on out at Oregon and we’re going to keep on building with that as well.”

The most exciting aspect of LeMieux is that he projects as a possible center option and guard. The Giants are currently lacking a center and will develop a position battle there to shake out the best of the bunch, hopefully. LeMieux will compete with Jon Halapio, Spencer Pulley, and Nick Gates this off-season.

“That was probably just on me,” Lemieux stated regarding his desire to train at center and guard. “Especially as a rookie, there’s not really a guard that only plays guard. Versatility is the biggest factor in this game. Coaches want to be able to put you in multiple spots. I have really good mentors that told me that at training camp, no matter where you are, they are going to throw you in, and you have to be ready. I just want to be prepared before that happened. Even at pro day, somebody asked me to jump in at center and I was ready to do that. It just all works out and versatility is key.”

Judge loves players that can play multiple positions and perform when called upon. Shane knows that the longevity of his career relies on adaptability, and he has taken the appropriate steps to function and various positions.

New York Giants: Who Will Start At Slot Cornerback In 2020?

The New York Giants have invested heavily in their secondary over the past two years. The Giants drafted three defensive backs in each of the last two NFL Drafts. They spent a first-round pick on DeAndre Baker, a second-round pick on Xavier McKinney, and two fourth-round picks on Julian Love and Darnay Holmes.

New York has a lot of potential in its young secondary, however, it is not yet a position of strength. In particular, the slot cornerback is a position of weakness for the Giants. Heading into 2020, there is a positional battle brewing at the nickel cornerback position, with a few young cornerbacks ready to compete. Who will start at slot cornerback in 2020?

Grant Haley

For the majority of the 2019 season, Grant Haley started at slot cornerback for the Giants. Haley’s performance was highly inconsistent, though. The young Penn State product struggled immensely in coverage. Haley allowed an 82.1% completion percentage in coverage last year, along with 342 yards and 1 touchdown.

Haley showed minimal improvement in coverage after an inconsistent rookie season in 2018. However, Grant has been consistently efficient as a tackler. In 2019 the cornerback recorded 43 combined tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and only 3 missed tackles.

Grant Haley is an efficient run-defender. But his lack of production in coverage will likely take him out of the running for the starting role in 2020.

Julian Love

Julian Love had an impressive rookie season in 2019. Love played cornerback in college and was considered for the Giants’ nickel corner job last season, however, he ended up playing safety instead. Julian Love was very impressive as a safety and made a strong impact, starting in 5 games while Jabrill Peppers was out with injury.

It seemed like Love would be the starting safety alongside Peppers in 2020. That was until the NFL Draft. New York selected the talented safety Xavier McKinney in the second round this year. Julian Love could stick around at the safety position, giving the Giants plenty of flexibility and versatility in their secondary. However, he could make the move back inside to slot cornerback and receive more playing time.

Julian Love has the coverage skills and experience to compete for the slot cornerback job. However, his impressive play at safety as a rookie will likely keep him in that role this season.

Darnay Holmes

The newest option for the Giants at slot cornerback is rookie Darnay Holmes out of UCLA. New York selected Holmes in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Darnay Holmes was not a slot cornerback in college- he was an excellent outside cornerback. But he is a bit undersized for the outside, so he projects better as a nickel cornerback in the NFL.

Darnay Holmes was impressive working as a slot cornerback at the Senior Bowl. He dealt with an injury in his last collegiate season, but he still showed plenty of promise and potential. The Giants may not want to put Holmes out there as a rookie immediately, however, the upside is clearly there. He is a talented and athletic cornerback that could be a difference-maker on the Giants’ defense for years to come.

New York Giants: Ranking the 2 most underrated 2020 NFL draft picks for Big Blue

New York Giants, Darnay Holmes

On paper, the New York Giants have a productive 2020 NFL Draft, having landed a high-floor offensive tackle in Andrew Thomas, the highest-rated safety in Xavier McKinney, and a bevy of other high-upside players. Notice the operative word, “high,” and how frequently it’s used to describe these players — elevation, increase, more, raised, lofty, a few synonyms to build off of when detailing the Giants’ new crop of players.

While Thomas and McKinney’s value is quite clear, Big Blue landed several other players that deserve ample attention, as they acquire the talent to excel at the NFL level.

Here are 2 of the more underrated draft picks for the New York Giants:

1.) Darnay Holmes

Holmes is one of my favorite players coming out of the Giants’ draft class, and while he was coined the crop’s top nickel corner, he’s only played in the slot one time – during the Senior Bowl. Holmes is a feisty corner with below-average size at 5-foot-10, 195-pounds. I imagine he will add some more muscle to his frame, but he has the perfect size to play inside against speedy receivers.

Not only is Holmes a high-character guy with a unique story, but he has also learned the ropes from some of the best players in NFL history.

“He might be the sleeper [defensive back] in the draft,” Rod Woodson told ESPN. “I know he was taken in the fourth round. But I like his mindset. No coach can measure one’s heart and one’s mind until you start playing. I think when I’ve seen him playing and talked to Carnell and his son, just the way he moves and how fluid he is and has that recall during the games when people are doing stuff to him that makes you kind of excited to watch a player like that.”

Deion Sanders stated Holmes had a “flawless” and “unbelievable” combine workout. The advocational words he gained from some notable people stand out, and Holmes has backed up the hype with quality play. After suffering a high-ankle sprain in 2019, he ignored medical advice and rejoined his team prematurely, severely limiting his efficiency but showing his grit and leadership as team captain.
Analyzing his stats from last season to de-value him is malpractice since he had a solid year in 2018. Given the potential he has, Holmes is easily one of the bigger steals for the Giants.
2.) Matt Peart
It’s not often a team lands a starting left and right tackle in the same draft class. Peart needs a bit of development, but the New York Giants have the time to offer him. He can spend the entire 2020 campaign refining his abilities and improving in pass-sets, but he has every tangible trait to prove upper management right.
Offensive line analyst, Matt Giannettino, gave us an in-depth breakdown on Peart Via Youtube, stating:


Super athletic quick on his feet nimble especially for his size and his life is really good on his pass sets,when he stays square with his head up he does his best work.


Can be a little weak on point of attack but that has to do with not rolling his hips consistently. He also plays a bit high of pad level because of his size. i actually believe if he adds weight that could help him.

In summary, he need to be a little bit more consistent in all of his technique but most importantly his hip flexibility for his athleticism and mobility along with his lane are really some good traits for the Giants to work with moving forward.

I wouldn’t expect Peart to jump right into a starting role, but if the Giants can develop him into a productive player at right tackle, they will have walked away from a single draft with two starters at some of the highest-paid positions in football.

New York Giants: Could Darnay Holmes Succeed On The Outside?

New York Giants, Darnay Holmes

The New York Giants have an awkward dilemma in their secondary. Second-year cornerback DeAndre Baker was recently arrested, then later released on bond. Some information seems to indicate his innocence, but nothing is certain yet. Whether he is exonerated of his charges or not, the Giants need a backup plan at the cornerback position.

The Giants have James Bradberry as their primary cornerback. Opposite of him, the plan was to watch DeAndre Baker develop after a tumultuous rookie season. Baker struggled mightily on the field and was reported to have some trouble off the field, too. The hope was that Baker could take his game to the next level in a new defensive scheme. Hopefully, that still happens. But what if it doesn’t? What will the Giants do about their second outside cornerback position?

New York has a few options on their roster from which they can choose. But the most intriguing possibility is someone that many would not even consider an option. Newly drafted rookie cornerback Darnay Holmes should have a shot to compete for the outside cornerback position. Holmes was drafted to play the nickel cornerback position. Holmes could probably be a day one starter in the slot. But fans might have been too quick to write Darnay Holmes off as an outside cornerback.

Why Darnay Holmes Could Succeed On The Outside:

College Experience

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).

Trust me, I’m not crazy. I’m not the only one who thinks Holmes can succeed on the outside. Like I said, his playing style is more suitable for the outside than it is for the inside- he is just a bit undersized. Below you will find a quote by an expert draft analyst who agrees with me:

“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

There are other prominent voices who see success in Darnay’s future. If you disregard my thoughts and the thoughts of one of the best draft analysts in the industry, maybe you will take the words of a few NFL legends into consideration.

High Expectations Among NFL Legends

Rod Woodson, Deion Sanders, and Aeneas Williams. What do all three of these former NFL players have in common? They are all Hall of Famers. Anything else? Oh yeah, they have all publicly stated their support and belief in Darnay Holmes. These three legends share the opinion that Darnay Holmes was one of the biggest steals of the 2020 NFL Draft (selected by the Giants in the fourth round).

Rod Woodson, Deion Sanders, and Aeneas Williams have all worked with Darnay Holmes as mentors in his past. So maybe they have some bias, but they do seem pretty confident in their protégé. Here are some quotes from the Hall of Famers that helped Darnay Holmes get where he is today (all quotes via Jordan Raanan of ESPN):

“I know he was taken in the fourth round. But I like his mindset. No coach can measure one’s heart and one’s mind until you start playing. I think when I’ve seen him playing and talked to Carnell and his son, just the way he moves and how fluid he is and has that recall during the games when people are doing stuff to him that makes you kind of excited to watch a player like that.” – Rod Woodson

“I was thinking in the back of my mind, a team is going to get a steal.” – Aeneas Williams

“He looked flawless. Was unbelievable.” – Deion Sanders on Darnay Holmes’s impressive work in the speed-turn drill at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine

Darnay Holmes has received high praise from some of the best ever to do it. Taking this into consideration, along with Darnay’s excellent coverage ability, there is no reason to consider Holmes strictly a slot cornerback at this point. He deserves a chance to prove himself on the outside. Whether DeAndre Baker returns to the team or not, the Giants should allow Darnay Holmes to compete for the outside cornerback position.

New York Giants: 2 rookie who can be major contributors on defense in 2020

New York Giants, Darnay Holmes

Here are two New York Giants rookie that could have a significant impact on defense next season:

The Giants’ defense in 2019 ranked 30th in the NFL, as they injected youth from the previous draft class into the unit in hopes of developing a foundation. The secondary was extremely young, consisting of DeAndre Baker, Julian Love, Sam Beal, and Corey Ballentine. All of these players received live reps and started a majority of games as a whole.

However, they failed to play at a high-level and ultimately put the Giants in a difficult position. In the most recent draft, they spent two picks on shoring up positions of need. They landed Xavier McKinney, the top-rated safety on the board, and Darnay Holmes, a projected nickel corner in the NFL.

Both players have immense potential, especially McKinney, who is coming out of Alabama, which closely represents an NFL style defense. He is essentially the next best thing after Isaiah Simmons, having totaled 95 tackles, 5.5 for a loss, 3.0 sacks, five passes defended, and seven total turnovers.

While Holmes’ statistics don’t look nearly as impressive as McKinney’s, as he battled a high ankle sprain but returned prematurely against the advice of medical professionals.
Holmes couldn’t bear to sit out his expected last season with UCLA due to injury, and playing on a bad ankle severely limited his efficiency in coverage.

Nonetheless, it attests to his mentality and how committed he was to the team. That is an excellent sign for the Giants in terms of leadership and intangible qualities. He will be a great addition to the locker room and hopefully lock down the slot corner position, a spot that has been problematic for the Giants in recent years.

Overall, these two players have the opportunity to earn significant starting time on defense and could end up being two of the more significant contributors in 2020. McKinney has the diversity and adaptability to move around the defense from a deep look to a strong safety position closer to the line of scrimmage. While Holmes played primarily outside corner in college, he looked fantastic as a nickel corner during the Senio Bowl.

These are two players we should be extremely excited to see moving forward and could revolutionize the defense.

New York Giants: Darnay Holmes’ story will make you a believer

New York Giants, Darnay Holmes

Taking a look at New York Giants‘ draft pick Darnay Holmes and what he brings to Big Blue:

When a player like UCLA cornerback Darnay Holmes comes across your draft board, you might want to think twice about passing on him. The New York Giants selected Holmes in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL draft, and after deep-diving into his qualities and traits, I can confidently say this is one of the more exciting and intriguing selections by GM Dave Gettleman and Co.

At first glance, Holmes is a 5-foot-10 corner that plays much bigger than his frame indicates. He is strong off the line of scrimmage and can match up well with receivers on the boundary. However, he was ranked as one of the top nickel corners in the draft, despite having barely played at the position.

The Giants desperately needed help on the interior, and Holmes can provide the talent they are seeking. Prior to his drafting, the Giants had Grant Haley, Julian Love, and Corey Ballentine at the position, all of which are decent players with limited upside. Holmes acquires the athleticism and natural talent to develop into a regular starter at the position rather quickly.

His story, though, is worth talking about, as it will make you a firm believer in his abilities. According to Chris Pettit, the Giants’ top scout, Holmes is a unique talent and one of the hardest-working players he’s ever come across in his 15 years doing the job.

Darnay Holmes is someone, we interviewed him down at the Senior Bowl. He’s really at the top of it, just the way he came in and took over the room. He’s one of the hardest working players that I’ve evaluated in my career. All of the stuff that I’ve gotten back and all of the positive qualities about him. I’m really excited about what he’s going to bring to our team.

Holmes has battled a problematic life up to this point, nearly losing his father at a young age. His father, who is formally an NFL player, was shot seven times in a drug deal gone bad. Luckily, he recovered from the tragic incident, teaching Holmes an essential lesson about responsibility and the meaning of life. He made it his goal to provide a better standard for his family and rise above his father’s past actions.

Having gone from eating out all the time and enjoying a quality lifestyle to eating fast food every day of the week, he embodied a spirit that demanded more for him and his family.

As a junior in college and the team captain of the football club, Holmes set out to increase his draft stock and join the ranks of the NFL this year. After suffering an ankle injury in 2019, Holmes was limited significantly but refused to take the six weeks required to heal properly. He played through the injury, showing off his toughness and ability to lead at a high-level. He graduated from UCLA in three years, a significant feat to accomplish while also being a top student-athlete.

The most humbling part of his journey is when his mom was evicted and forced to live with Darnay and his roommate at school. Holmes made the sacrifice to sleep at the UCLA football facilities so his mother could sleep in a bed comfortably. Holmes said he played some of his best games while sleeping on stacked pallets in his biography penned on The Players Tribune:

When I wasn’t staying at my apartment, I would sleep at the football facility. I’d pile up as many pillows and blankets as I could to create a makeshift bed — it’s called pallets for the ones who know — and it wasn’t so bad. I guess under the circumstances some people might have felt embarrassed, but that never registered with me. I knew I had done the right thing for my mom and my family, and that’s all that matters.

His determination to succeed in his junior year is a product of a seed he planted long ago. His injury severely damaged his draft stock, but the potential he holds as a fourth-round pick could be one of the bigger steals in the draft by the Giants.

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.