Should there be pressure on Prince?
A former first-round selection out of Nebraska, New York Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara has not been the most consistent performer on the field for the Giants during his first two season. Amukamara has battled injuries and erratic play, but at times has also showed glimpses as to why he was heralded so highly when the team drafted him 19th overall in 2011.
According to NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks, it's time for Prince to live up to his first-round status.
"The Giants' secondary situation has been a question mark for years, but Amukamara was expected to be a part of the solution. However, the former first-round pick hasn't been available or consistent enough to make a significant contribution to the defense. Amukamara has only suited up for 20 games in two seasons, with just 11 starts. In those appearances, he hasn't displayed the sticky cover skills or awareness to match elite receivers in isolated coverage. Additionally, Amukamara hasn't showcased the ball skills to consistently produce takeaways at the position. The G-Men are desperately seeking a No. 1 corner. It's time for Amukamara to validate his status as a top pick with his performance on the field."
A lingering hamstring injury plagued Amukamara in 2012. A broken foot suffered in training camp caused him to miss the first nine games of his 2011 rookie season.
So is it fair to label Amukamara a bust when he hasn't been afforded the opportunity to play at full strength?
It's safe to say this coming season will likely define Amukamara. At what we believe will be 100 percent, Amukamara is going to have the first shot at starting opposite of Corey Webster, and in the NFC East will face more than enough talented No. 1 and 2 wide receivers.
You probably do not have to look much further than the Miles Austin-Dez Bryant tandem he and the New York Giants defense will look to contain when Week 1 rolls around.
Cornerbacks are certainly one of the positions with the biggest question marks entering the 2013 season. Along with Amukamara's injury and consistency concerns, Webster looked like a shell of his former self in 2012, while Jayron Hosley is probably a nickelback at best.
The team has veterans Aaron Ross and Terrell Thomas in backup roles, as well as unknowns like Trumaine McBride, Charles James and Terrence Frederick on the bottom of the depth chart, fighting for spots on the 53-man roster.
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This is not meant to steal Sam's thunder, but this is my show and I have a different take on Amukamara than either Sam or Brooks. This type of 'add-on' is something I might do in some contributor posts going forward. Now back to discussing Amukamara.
First, Brooks mentioning that Amukamara has "just 11 starts" is misleading, making it seem like he is not a first-unit corner. All of those starts came last season, when he was clearly the best corner the Giants had.
I also have to bristle at Sam using the "bust" word in connection with Amukamara, or insinuating that Amukamara is competing for a starting role. As we have said repeatedly, going back into last season, he is now without question a starting cornerback and the best one the Giants have. It's Webster, not Amukamara, who should be fighting to prove he belongs on the field.
Now, does all of that mean that Amukamara is a front-line, shut-down corner? He hasn't proven that yet. The Giants have not consistently lined him up against the opposition's best receiver, but let's hope they see fit to do that this season as what we saw a year ago leads you to believe that is their best option.
Amukamara, of course, still has to prove that he can also stay healthy and play a full season. I believe, however, that he has already shown that he should have a career as, at least, a good NFL cornerback.