New York Giants: ESPN predicts Julian Love to be breakout player for Big Blue

New York Giants, Julian Love

The New York Giants are doing interesting things with Julian Love in the secondary. Similar to baseball, having a utility player allows teams to supplement positions that I’ve been hit by injury or inadequate play. The same is happening with Love, as he is being groomed to play strong safety, free safety, and cornerback.

Having the ability to play three positions in the NFL makes him extremely valuable, and while I don’t think he will be acting as an every play starter, his impact can be significant.

The New York Giants watched a player blossom:

In 2019, Love earned his first opportunities when starting strong safety Jabrill peppers went down in week 12. After hurting his hip on a punt return, Peppers was forced to miss the rest of the season, allowing Love to showcase his skills. In his first game against the Chicago Bears, Julian earned his first career interception.

According to Giants.com, love played in at least 97% of the Giants’ defensive snaps in the final five games of the 2019 season. He looked comfortable playing close to the line of scrimmage against the run and dropping back into coverage.

The former Notre Dame product entered the NFL as a cornerback forward player, but he has adapted quickly to the different positions in the secondary. He finished his rookie season with 35 combined tackles, five tackles for loss, one quarterback hit, one interception, three passes defended, and one forced fumble. PFF ranked love as the number 13 defensive back on its top 50 NFL rookie rankings list. He was the ninth-best safety in the box post-Peppers and only allowed 18 yards in coverage.

ESPN was another outlet that named love as a potential breakout player in 2020.

As ESPN’s Rivers McCown writes, “One of the youngest players on the list, Love was an easy middle-of-the-field pick for the Giants in the middle rounds of the draft, and one of the few players who showed Dave Gettleman recognizes that the passing game exists. Love essentially didn’t break the lineup until Week 12 but played almost all the Giants snaps from Week 13 to the end of the season. Over that span, we have Love credited with 21 targets into his coverage, of which he allowed just 72 yards and one touchdown. He moved from cornerback to strong safety to replace the injured Jabrill Peppers.

Overall, the Giants secure a steal in Love as a fourth-round pick in 2019. He has a crucial role to play on the Giants, and with injuries such a big part of the game, he will be there to supplement any losses. He is an excellent player, and we are just starting to see the type of potential he holds moving forward.

New York Giants Secondary Improved Little In 2020 According To PFF

New York Giants, DeAndre Baker

Going into the 2020 season, one of the most important points for the New York Giants will be improving their play in the secondary.

There were too many times last season when opposing quarterbacks were able to turn bad situations into good ones through picking apart openings in the Giants’ passing defense on second and third downs.

And while play from DeAndre Baker started to improve later in the year, it remains to be seen when Baker will get off the commissioner’s exempt list and return to the team. Even if he does return, it’s debatable if his play will be up to standard.

There’s some decent reasons to not have an optimistic view of the Giants secondary this year. Even if the team did add a big player through the draft in Xavier McKinney.

The Pro Football Focus take on the secondary

Pro Football Focus had their own take on the secondary and in their rankings of each one in the league, the Giants were one of the worst. The team comes in at number 27 on the PFF list. While the list claims James Bradberry will likely see a step up in performance after the move in divisions, it’s not as confident in some of the other players in the secondary.

DeAndre Baker struggled badly as a rookie and was beaten for eight touchdowns in total, though his future is somewhat up in the air, given the reported off-field troubles. Beyond Baker, the Giants would be turning to Sam Beal, who played fewer than 300 snaps last year, or one of either Corey Ballentine, Darnay Holmes, Chris Williamson or Montre Hartage. So, for as much as Baker struggled last year, the prospects of a season without him would not be good.

The article goes on to speak about the team’s lack of depth further by pointing out how Grant Haley, one of the likely contenders for slot corner, didn’t do all that well when targeted last year. Furthermore, Julian Love’s development may end up wasted when Xavier McKinney likely takes over his spot at safety.

Is it really all that bad, though?

Well, a lot of that depends on the unknown. DeAndre Baker wasn’t great last year but the Giants don’t have many other credible options at this point at the number two spot. And we don’t know how Grant Haley will play after getting more experience. Xavier McKinney could make a huge impact as a rookie or could take longer to adjust.

And because of so many unknowns as well as younger players being involved in large roles, it’s hard to say one way or the other if the Giants really are one of the worst secondaries in the NFL.

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: 3 Players Who Could Surprise in 2020

New York Giants, Julian Love

Every year there are always 1-3 players that surprise fans and go on to have a career year. This new New York Giants team is as young and exciting as it’s ever been.

Here are three New York Giants players who could surprise in 2020:

Dion Lewis

Dion Lewis had a decent year in 2019, backing up the beast Derrick Henry. Lewis recorded 209 rushing yards on 54 carries and had 164 receiving yards on 25 catches. You may sit there and say, “well, we have Saquon Barkley, and he’s better than Derrick Henry, so how would Lewis have a surprising year?.”

In comes newly acquired offensive coordinator Jason Garrett; Jason Garrett loves using his running backs. Ezekiel Elliott has run the ball over 300 times, three times in his 4-year career. I can easily see Dion Lewis commanding 90-100 carries with the New York Giants, and be more of a threat in the passing offense. Lewis is a shifty Darren Sproles type player, Garrett will make sure to use Lewis to his full potential. I predict that Lewis will have 402 yards on 88 carries for three rushing touchdowns, and have 34 catches for 210 yards and 1 receiving touchdown.

Julian Love

Julian Love had a very confusing year last year. Love was told he would be the starting Nickel cornerback when he was drafted. Then he got moved to safety, then back to cornerback, finally, Love was moved back to safety. Even with all of this controversy, Love still recorded 37 tackles, five tackles for loss, three passes defended one interception, and one forced fumble.

Love only started in 5 games last year. Imagine if he had a full season. Assuming there are no positional controversies, Julian Love is set to play as a third-safety in Patrick Graham’s defensive scheme. Adding Xavier McKinney will bring changes to the secondary, but Love is a valuable piece on defense who can supplement injuries at multiple positions. I predict that Love will have 79 tackles, eight tackles for loss, six passes defended, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions.

Ryan Connelly

Ryan Connelly was definitely one of the few bright spots in a very dark year for the Giants. Connelly was one of my favorite players last year. It’s sad that Giants fans only got to see him start three games before tearing his ACL against the Washington Football team. In only three games, Connelly recorded 20 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, two passes defended, and two interceptions.

If Connelly stays healthy, and he starts all 16 games, Giants fans may very well be seeing the next phenom for the Big Blue Wrecking Crew. Also, with the addition of Blake Martinez, Ryan Connelly is primed to find his groove once more. I predict Connelly will record 90 tackles, five tackles for loss, six sacks, two passes defended, one forced fumble, and three interceptions.

Conclusion

There is so much untapped talent on this new New York Giants team; I could probably list 10-15 players who could break out this year. Giants fans should be very excited to see all these young players in action.

New York Giants are building Julian Love into a utility player

New York Giants, Julian Love

The New York Giants’ defense needs a playmaker who they can trust at multiple positions. There is news on the DeAndre Bakers case and it does not look too good. In my mind, Baker will be kicked off the team in the next few weeks. This leaves a gaping hole on defense that needs to be filled. For this reason, Julian Love can be that guy for the Giant’s defense, he has experience at multiple positions.

What the Giants can do with Love

Although Julian Love played strong safety last season, the Giants officially switched him over to cornerback. At strong safety, Love had 30 solo tackles, five tackles for a loss, and one interception. As a utility player, Giants’ fans can expect to see Love playing multiple positions on defense. For example, slot cornerback, free safety, are positions I can see Love playing in 2020 with Patrick Graham’s new system. In general, Love is going to be all over the place this season and gaining experience and knowledge. This will be huge for his growth because who knows what will happen with the Giants defense. Also, if a miracle happens and Baker is still on the team, Love will still have experience at other positions, this will be tremendous for the Giants.

Julian Love breakdowns offseason

Due to the pandemic, the Giants’ offseason has been changed drastically. In other words, Love discussed how he’s made the best of it and what lies ahead.

“Honestly, I’m very fortunate because the situation with everything going online kind of helped me out,” Love said. “I was able to be locked in. Obviously, I was in class for a certain amount of the day and then I was in football for a certain amount of the day. All of my professors were accommodating. It sounds messed up, but my first priority was football. And they knew that. So they knew classes and finishing up the semester was second on my mind. I was really just trying to get everything down, really trying to get to know everyone. That’s important over this virtual setting.”

Overall, Julian Love will be used everywhere on defense, especially with Bakers’ situation. I have a lot of hope for Love, I see him playing a lot of outside corner and slot corner as well. If Jabrill Peppers or Xavier Mckinney get hurt, Love will be comfortable filling in at either safety role.

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: What Effect Would It Have If DeAndre Baker Is Innocent?

New York Giants, DeAndre Baker

Based on earlier events in the offseason it didn’t look like accused cornerback DeAndre Baker would return to the New York Giants, but this spring has had a number of twists and turns so far and Baker remains in the running to come back thanks to new statements from witnesses. Two witnesses, in fact, say that Baker didn’t pull out a gun during a party.

Presumably, if the case is dropped, we’ll see Baker returning to his duties with the team ASAP. But what does that mean for the Giants and the rest of their roster?

No move to corner for Julian Love

When the arrest warrant for Baker was originally revealed, it was thought that the cornerback position would have a renewed competition. The Giants brought in James Bradberry during free agency, but because of the departure of last season’s top corner Janoris Jenkins, DeAndre Baker de facto remained in his spot as the number two.

Getting arrested shook all that up and the Giants didn’t show intentions to sign another player to fill the number two corner spot next to Bradberry. Julian Love was one of the more intriguing homegrown names that could have spent some time in the spot, but Love has mostly played at safety so far and hasn’t been in the cornerback conversation much until Baker’s arrest.

However, with both main corner spots filled, it looks like Love is either going to have to compete for the third corner spot with others such as Corey Ballentine and Sam Beal, or remain at safety full time and deal with losing playing time to second round draft pick and likely immediate starter Xavier McKinney.

Greater competition at cornerback

Even if Baker does come back, it’s debatable if all of his progress from last season will carry over. The legal case has likely been tiring and the team distanced Baker from the virtual offseason program and told him to focus on dealing with it.

It’s safe to say that some of Baker’s competitors may be sizing up his spot at the moment.

Competitiveness is required in the NFL, after all, and this is a chance for some players that haven’t been in the limelight to get more playing time. Additionally, Baker’s teammates have an advantage over him in time spent learning the new systems that the Giants will use this year, while Baker has been tied up by legal trouble.

Playing in the NFL can also be a mentally draining experience – dealing with the media, demanding fans, and the pressures of the game are all factors. When adding an offseason full of legal problems to those stresses, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that we could see a drop in play from Baker even if he does retain his spot on the team.

That doesn’t mean he’ll lose his spot completely. But it’s a big assumption to think that Baker will walk right into a starting spot again without having to compete harder for it than he did last season.

New York Giants: Julian Love talks offseason, how he wants to be a ‘factor’

New York Giants, Julian Love

Like the rest of the NFL, the New York Giants are in the midst of a virtual offseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, defensive back Julian Love feels the offseason is going well.

In an appearance on the “Giants Huddle” podcast, Love said the Giants have worked trivia about their teammates and the New Jersey area into the mix.

“There’s an importance on getting to know the area because we’re the New York Giants and we encompass a lot of demographics, a lot of people, a lot of areas geographically as well,” Love said. “So part of it could be know the New Jersey area, know different areas of New York in trivia and geographic ways, and then there is get to know your teammates. It could be where somebody is from, what high school they went to, their picture and name this person – coaches as well. Everybody is involved into who could pop up on the trivia. So that’s a conversation starter with that person going forward. You learn such interesting [backstories] on people. I think you learn more doing that than you do in person with each other in a way.”

“That implementation has been awesome. I really enjoyed each day hopping online to meet with people and meet with teammates and to see what the new challenge is for that day. Communication has been flowing, very fluid and open. I think that’s important right now to build that camaraderie, which we’re not able to because we’re not in the facility together.”

Love feels he has been able to grasp new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s playbook.

“It’s tough at first, but they’ve done a great job setting up film, setting up meetings, certain PowerPoints,” Love said. “Some coaches might step back in the camera and demonstrate something, which is kind of funny. But I think it’s gone well. None of us can control what is happening right now and why we’re in this virtual setting, but all we can do is our very best to learn as much as possible in this setting. And I think we’ve done a great job so far. Everything is very easy, they put it in front of you, a lot of guys are asking a lot of questions, and I think that’s a start of building something great.”

Love finds that applying pressure is pivotal to one’s growth.

“I like to say I’m always confident in my abilities and learning playbooks and being intelligent, just learning to grow – and I am,” Love said. “I’m excited for all that, but then you’ve got to have that element of pressure behind you to be able to grow and get better. I think that’s kind of what I’ve always done every year of football no matter what level I’m at, no matter what I accomplished the year before. You’ve got to feel that element of pressure in order to grow.”

Love expresses how he wants to be a “factor” for the Giants.

“I want to just be a factor,” Love said. “I want to contribute in a positive way and do whatever I have to do to do that. Last year – I don’t want to talk about last year too much – but I tried to be there in any way I could [by] knowing the playbook, knowing different things I could do to see the field and just try to help. And it’s not for, ‘Oh, I want to play, I want to play.’ No, I want to help. I want to build on this. So my personal goal is just to be ready for that.”

The Giants selected Love with the 108th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. He was inserted into the starting lineup when safety Jabrill Peppers suffered an injury in a Week 12 matchup against the Chicago Bears. Love started five games, totaling 37 combined tackles, five tackles for loss and one interception.

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.