New York Giants: 3 play-makers who could have great 2020 season’s

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard, Xavier McKinney, Evan Engram

Training camp is underway for the New York Giants and the veterans have taken the football field. With plenty of opt-outs across the league still expected, the Giants have only lost two players thus far –Nate Solder and Da’Mari Scott.

The current roster is a product of a complete overhaul, institutionalized by general manager Dave Gettleman. New head coach Joe Judge has certainly made his impact known early on in his career with the Giants, spending the fourth overall pick on a tackle, Andrew Thomas. Prior to this off-season, Gettleman had never spent a first-round selection let alone a top-five pick on an offensive lineman.

The Giants have struggled in recent years to put any sort of success together. Offensively in 2019, they ranked 18th of 32 in points for and 30th of 32 in points against. They allowed nearly 30 points per game, a number that must decrease moving forward.

Since both sides of the ball need to witness vast improvements, let’s take a look at some of the Giants’ playmakers and what to expect from them in 2020.

Three New York Giants players who could have big 2020 seasons:

1.) Jabrill Peppers

When the Giants originally traded Odell Beckham Jr., they didn’t anticipate Jabrill Peppers becoming a focal point on defense. Since joining Big Blue, he has left his mark.

Despite missing five games in 2019 with an injured hip, Peppers posted very similar stats to his 2018 campaign.

For comparison sake:

2018: 79 combined tackles, five tackles for a loss, four quarterback hits, 1.0 sacks, three fumble recoveries, five passes defended, 1 INT

2019: 76 combined tackles, five tackles for a loss, two quarterback hits, three forced fumbles, five passes defended, one INT, one TD

As you can see, he had a very similar year but posted three additional turnovers on defense. He took a significant step forward at strong safety with the Giants, and having leaned out and added more muscle mass, he looks to be in perfect shape. Considering his development last year, I fully expect him to take a step forward and produce at a high-level.

New York Giants: Could Jabrill Peppers Be The Team’s CB2?

New York Giants, Jabrill Peppers

The New York Giants might or might not have a vacancy at their second outside cornerback position. Second-year cornerback DeAndre Baker has found himself in quite a bit of legal trouble this offseason. Baker currently has eight felony chargers hanging overhead and has been placed on the NFL’s commissioner’s exempt list. He is not allowed to participate in the Giants’ training camp and, day by day, it looks less and less likely that we will see DeAndre play another game in a Giants uniform.

DeAndre Baker’s absence leaves a huge hole in the Giants’ secondary. New York signed James Bradberry this offseason as their primary outside cornerback. But the expectation was for DeAndre Baker to be the team’s second outside cornerback. If DeAndre is indeed done as a Giant, they will need to find someone else to play that position. There are numerous options on the roster to fill that role: Corey Ballentine, Julian Love, and Sam Beal. But the most intriguing option is the most unlikely.

Jabrill Peppers As CB2?

The Giants’ secondary has a trio of young, talented safeties: Julian Love, Xavier McKinney, and Jabrill Peppers. Last season, Jabrill Peppers was arguably the best player on the Giants’ defense. The hard-hitting strong safety was a playmaker for the team in the eleven games he played. But could Peppers undergo a position change this year and fill the Giants’ second cornerback position?

This is one of many topics that we discussed in this week’s episode of Fireside Giants. You can find all the links to watch or listen to this week’s episode HERE.

Preview:

In an interview with the NY Post last week, Jabrill Peppers’s trainer, Brian Walker, threw out the idea of Peppers playing cornerback in 2020. According to Ryan Dunleavy of the NY Post, Walker “thinks cornerback could be Peppers’ best NFL position.” Walker compared Peppers to the likes of Stephon Gilmore and Byron Jones:

“You could see him with a Gilmore — same shape, same body — where he could lock down a half [of the field],” Walker said. “This staff is used to having really good, really strong cornerbacks. Personally, I feel like he could make the jump like Jones. Both athletic guys. They just needed more time to develop in terms of technique.” – Brian Walker via the NY Post

Jabrill Peppers was excellent in run-support for the Giants last season. He totaled 76 combined tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and 3 forced fumbles in 11 games in 2019. Moving him to cornerback would diminish this facet of his game. But what if he could make that transition? Having a strong cornerback like Jabrill Peppers on the outside could be exactly what the Giants need.

Peppers has been a bit inconsistent in coverage throughout his career. However, Brian Walker also mentioned that Jabrill Peppers has improved his speed and athleticism this offseason:

“He looks like he did as a [New Jersey] state champion sprinter,” trainer Brian Walker told The Post. “Movement-wise, he looks free. He’s maintained that speed and strength, even though he is leaning up.” – Brian Walker via the NY Post

Jabrill Peppers is an ideal strong safety. But he might provide more value to the team if he can be an ideal outside cornerback. At the very least, the Giants should give Jabrill some reps at outside cornerback in training camp and see how he fares. Jabrill Peppers could be exactly what the Giants’ defense needs.

New York Giants: Can Jabrill Peppers have a breakout 2020 campaign?

New York Giants, Jabrill Peppers

Explosion, athleticism, speed, strength, these are all words that describe New York Giants strong safety Jabrill Peppers. In college, Peppers was known as one of the most exciting kick return specialists in the country, but the Giants have taken a different route with the defender. After suffering a season-ending hip injury on a punt return last year, utilizing him in that way is no longer an efficient method.

The Giants need to be desperately careful with their best players, as losing Peppers last season forced Julian Love into an unexpected role, which he managed to perform adequately in. However, Jabrill was on pace for one of his best seasons in the NFL.

In 2019, he posted 76 combined tackles, five tackles for loss, two quarterback hits, three forced fumbles, five passes defended, and one interception, in just 11 games. He nearly replicated or improved in every category.

Peppers has been working hard this off-season to increase his strength and speed on the playing field. The Giants made significant efforts to improve their defense, drafting free safety Xavier McKinney and signing a bevy of free agents to upgrade the linebacker position. Peppers should ultimately benefit from these moves, as it will provide him with more support in the secondary and allow him to be more diverse.

A change in scheme for the New York Giants:

Big Blue also went out and hired new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who utilizes a man coverage heavy scheme and blitzes frequently on passing downs. I expect to see Peppers playing a versatile role that adapts to the opposing team’s play style. Having a player of his athletic ability gives Patrick Graham a lot more room to work with.

As a New York native, Peppers feels the need to prove his worth in his hometown. He is extremely confident and self-motivated, and I believe 2020 could be a monster season for the strong safety.

New York Giants: Why Jabrill Peppers Will Be An Improved Player In 2020

New York Giants, Jabrill Peppers

The New York Giants have put together a young, talented secondary entering the 2020 NFL season. New York has invested plenty of assets into its defensive secondary over the past two years. The Giants drafted three defensive backs in 2019, signed James Bradberry to a lucrative contract in 2020, then drafted three more defensive backs in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Possibly the most crucial acquisition in the secondary, though, was a trade made in the 2019 offseason. The infamous Odell Beckham Jr. trade that sent New York’s star receiver to Cleveland yielded the Giants a talented, young safety: Jabrill Peppers.

Flashes Of Great Potential

In his first season with the New York Giants, Jabrill Peppers had flashes of greatness. The potential was clearly there. Unfortunately, where there were great moments, there were also poor moments. Jabrill was inconsistent in the Giants’ defense last season, as he had been in his first two seasons with the Browns. This could have been a product of the Giants’ inefficient defensive scheme that saw a number of talented players struggle in 2019.

Despite the struggles, there was enough shown by Peppers on the field to convince the Giants that he has a future with the team. New York picked up his fifth-year option, a no-brainer decision considering the financial bargain. Jabrill was productive in 2019, being somewhat of a turnover-machine.

Peppers forced 3 fumbles in 2019 and had 1 interception which he took back to the end zone. Peppers also defended 5 passes, totaled 76 tackles and 5 tackles for loss, all in an 11-game span. He did miss 11 tackles, though, and allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 63.9% of passes for 268 yards and 1 touchdown against him. These numbers are not terrible by any means, but they definitely exhibit room for improvement.

Luckily for the Giants, there is reason to expect improvement out of Jabrill Peppers in 2020.

New York Giants: Ranking Jabrill Peppers’ top three plays from the 2019 season

New York Giants, Jabrill Peppers

After one season in the Big Apple, the New York Giants can feel good about strong safety, Jabrill peppers. So far, Peppers has been a playmaking machine; the sky is the limit for him. In 2019, he only played in 11 games but still made an impact on every game.

Here are the three plays that stood out the most about:

Jabrill’s forced fumble against the Vikings

This forced fumble by Jabrill Peppers shows off his hustle and mentality, no easy touchdowns. Most importantly, it shows off Peppers’ ability to never give up on a play. Vikings running back Dalvin Cook had a walk-in touchdown, that was until Jabrill came out of nowhere.  After all, this is what the Giants’ defense needs, more playmakers who are willing to never give up on a play no matter what.

Check out the play in the video below, skip to (5:25)

Jabrill’s pick-six against the Redskins

Jabrill Peppers only had one interception in 2019, that one interception was a pick-six against the Washington Redksins. This was truly one of the best highlights from 2019 because it was against Dwayne Haskins. Not to forget, Haskins laughed when the Giants passed on him in the 2019 draft, Peppers made sure to return the favor.

For example, Peppers had his ups and downs in coverage, this is an area for improvement in 2020. Lastly, Peppers was targeted 36 times and allowed 23 receptions, a 63.9 completion percentage allowed.

Jabrill’s forced fumble against the Cowboys

This play makes Jabrill’s top three plays because it shows off Jabrills’ play recognition. To clarify, Peppers was covering the deep route and noticed the pass going short, Peppers was able to turn on a dime and make a play on the ball. I love this play, Peppers made a great read and also made a great hit on the ball carrier. To rephrase it, having Peppers over the top allows him to read plays and use his quickens to pursue them.

Skip to (2:10)

Jabrill is the king of the offseason

The New York Giants will see a different Jabrill Peppers in 2020. To summarize, Peppers has been killing the offseason, several clips have surfaced of Peppers hitting the weight room and the field. Also, Peppers has been working with the Giants’ fourth-round pick, Darnay Holmes. These two are going to be a nightmare in the secondary, I can’t wait until we get to see them in action.

 

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: Does Jabrill Peppers have Pro-Bowl potential in 2020?

New York Giants, Jabrill Peppers

The New York Giants have elevated expectations for strong safety Jabrill Peppers in 2020. Considering they picked up the 5th-year option on his rookie deal, Peppers represents a starting player on defense and one with untapped potential.

During his two seasons with the Cleveland Browns between 2017-18, he was moved around the defense a bit to test different positions. Ultimately, they viewed him as a kick return specialist with defensive qualities, and not the other way around. At free safety in 2017, he struggled immensely to hold down the deep half the field. His first year in the NFL, he started at strong safety, posting a mere semblance of his production in 2019.

2017 stats: 13 games — 58 combined tackles, 1 TFL, 0 QB hits, 3 PD, 0 FF, 1 INT

2019 stats: 11 games — 76 combined tackles, 5 TFL, 2 QB hits, 5 PD, 3 FF, 1 INT

The reason I compare these two seasons is because he played strong safety in both. In two fewer games last year, Peppers showed immense growth with the Giants. He might be the only player that James Bettcher actually managed to advance.

The potential is there for Peppers to become an All-Pro athlete. He just hasn’t managed to put it all together just yet. Working tirelessly to increase his agility and strength this off-season, he looks lighter and more muscular than before.

The goal is to establish Jabrill as a leader on defense and a playmaker. His four turnovers in 2019 showed he has the ability to force fumbles and play well in coverage. With Xavier McKinney taking over at free safety, who racked up seven turnovers in college last year, the Giants have a lot of good playmakers to work with.

It is also important to note, the peppers only played 11 games and missed multiple easier matchups where he could’ve padded his stats even further.

Let’s take a look at what his stats might have looked like if he played all 16 games

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

Those are impressive numbers that tell an entirely different story. A slight improvement and a full 16 games healthy could work wonders for the 4th-year player.

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 are leaning on top 3 safeties to set the tone on defense

New York Giants, Xavier McKinney, Jabrill Peppers

One thing to know about New York Giants‘ defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s defensive scheme is that he relies heavily on safeties to move up to the line of scrimmage and drop back into deep coverage.

Luckily for Graham, he has a bevy of talented safeties to utilize on his new team. General manager Dave Gettleman made it a priority to bolster the secondary over the past two seasons with youthful foundational players.

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Let’s take a look at three safeties and New York Giants will be leaning on in 2020 and beyond:

1.) Xavier McKinney

The Giants landed McKinney with their second-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft, a place they never thought they’d land such a quality player. Xavier was the highest-rated safety on the board, and him dropping to the second round was a blessing in disguise for a team that has lacked a true field general in the deep half.

McKinney can prowl the secondary looking for deep passes but also move up to the line of scrimmage to rush the passer. His college statistics in 2019 protesters playmaking ability, as he forced four fumbles and recorded three interceptions. To go with his impressive turnover production, he recorded 3.0 sacks, 95 tackles, and recorded one touchdown on a pick-six.

Among SEC defenders, he ranked second with 59 solo tackles, sixth with 95 total tackles, eighth with three interceptions, fifth with 10 passes defended, and first in forced fumbles.

McKinney is bringing incredible versatility and technique to the secondary for the Giants, and at 21 years old, his best years are ahead of him. If he can develop into a consistent player for Big Blue, he can be a staple on defense and a bonafide leader. The team will be relying on him to transform the deep half of the field.

New York Giants: 3 players that need to step up on defense in 2020

New York Giants, Jabrill Peppers

The New York Giants are heading into the 2020 season with unpredictability scattered across the board. Their offense might have some new talented pieces, but we don’t know what the offensive line holds or how Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley will perform behind them.

On defense, the Giants landed safety Xavier McKinney in the draft and brought in several new players in linebacker Blake Martinez and pass rusher Kyler Fackrell. With general manager Dave Gettleman attempting to piece together the defense and rid the team of underperforming athletes, we should expect an increase in production, but there are several players that need to step up and fill the void.

Here’s a look at three players the New York Giants need to step up on defense:

1.) Lorenzo Carter

Carter needs to improve in 2020, after posting two seasons of uninspiring play. After his rookie campaign, most were excited to see Carter make his debut in his sophomore season, as he contains the size and speed to be a quality player in the NFL.

After posting 4.0 sacks, 43 combined tackles, and 10 quarterback hits in just 40% of defensive snaps; he backed it up with marginal improvements in year two. Carter posted 4.5 sacks, 45 combine tackles, 13 quarterback hits, and a 15.1% missed tackle rate on 65% of snaps.

The sophomore slump is undoubtedly a real thing, as expectations were weighing down on Carter’s shoulders. At 24 years old, the Giants shouldn’t give up on him yet, and I expect him to earn about 50% of defensive snaps with Patrick Graham as defensive coordinator. If the Giants manage to retain Markus Golden on a one year deal, Carter could be pushed on the depth chart, but his development is essential in the progression of the Giants’ pass rush.