Terrell Thomas (24) of the New York Giants breaks up the pass intended for Jeremy Maclin (18) of the Philadelphia Eagles at New Meadowlands Stadium on Dec. 19, 2010 in East Rutherford New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
New York Giants' cornerback Terrell Thomas spoke with Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York recently about the team's drafting of Prince Amukamara in the first round. Thomas had some interesting things to say, including something I found surprising about how Amukamara's presence could impact his role in the defense.
First, Thomas made it clear he didn't feel slighted by the selection.
"I think it was a good move ... "He gives us a lot more depth," Thomas continued. "When you play in the NFC East, you are going against three wide receivers. Go look at Dallas, look at the Eagles, they have all three wide receivers.
"When you get a top-10 pick that falls to 19, I think it is a great pick," Thomas said. "The Giants draft on talent, that is why I am here. People thought, what the hell are they drafting a corner in the second round when they got Aaron last year, won the Super Bowl and have five corners already. They know what they are doing and a lot of players trust them, the front office, so we are happy with our draft picks."
That plays into a point I have made repeatedly in the past. In the modern NFL you can simply never have too many quality cover guys. Teams run four and five-receiver sets constantly, looking to exploit the weakest defensive back on the field. If you are playing defensive backs who can't cover, you have no chance.
Thomas said one other thing that really intrigued me in regards to Amukamara.
"It actually helps me out, because now hopefully I can move back into the slot and I’ll be able to be utilized a little bit different back to my rookie and sophomore year," said Thomas. "I love playing in the slot.
"I don’t mind playing outside but in the slot you are around the ball a lot more and Perry’s defense is really based on instincts and using your eyes and that is one of my strengths. To be able to get in the slot and use that and be a bigger body in there will definitely benefit me a lot more."
You usually think of the slot defensive backs as your third or fourth guys -- the nickel or dime corners, if you will. If Thomas is more comfortable there -- and he was extremely successful in that role in 2009 -- then, by all means, the Giants need to get him inside. Let Amukamara, or Aaron Ross, play outside against the three and four-wide receiver sets and leave Thomas inside where he feels more effective.
Seeing Thomas say this now makes you wonder why the Giants did not use Ross outside and Thomas inside last season when they were on the field together. Ross, certainly, does not look incredibly comfortable in the slot.
When it comes to the secondary, we have talked about the use of the safeties -- about getting Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips in positions to do what they do best and make more plays in 2011. It seems this also applies to the cornerbacks.
That might sound like a criticism of defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. When I think about it, though, I don't really think it is. I think that in 2010 the Giants had a new coordinator coming in, bringing a new system to a group of entrenched players. There has to be a learning curve, both players learning what the coach is preaching, and the coach learning what his players do best.
Maybe, with a year together and with some added depth available, you will see some of the defensive backs used a little differently in 2011.