The New York Giants went out on a limb when they signed enigmatic cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to a five-year, $35 million contract with $13.98 million guaranteed. Will they get their money's worth? Let's look closer at DRC as we continue our series of player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp later this month.
2013 Season In Review
Rodgers-Cromartie had a good season for the Denver Broncos. He had three interceptions and 19 passes defensed in 15 games. Pro Football Focus ranked Rodgers-Cromartie as the league's sixth-best corner in 2013, with a +13.1 overall grade. Rodgers-Cromartie allowed 30 completions in 68 targets (44.1 percent), allowed four touchdowns and had a passer rating against of 67.8. It was a nice comeback season for DRC after two less than stellar seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Rodgers-Cromartie has had an up-and-down career, despite being acknowledged as having immense talent. He made the Pro Bowl in 2009 with the Arizona Cardinals when he compiled a +17.6 PFF grade and intercepted six passes. He has not, however, played to that level since. The Giants gambled that they would get the interested, play-making version of DRC when they bestowed that huge contract upon him.
The Giants immediately said that Rodgers-Cromartie would usually be used to shadow the No. 1 receiver from the opposing team. There are mixed opinions on whether or not Rodgers-Cromartie is that type of shut down, follow the best receiver on the other team type of corner, or a guy best allowed to play his side and cover whatever receiver is lined up there.
In a recent film review of Rodgers-Cromartie's 2013 season, Jordan Ranaan of NJ.com opined that DRC shadowing an opponent's No. 1 receiver "might not work out so well."
With Prince Amukamara on the opposite side, and having developed into a player the Giants trusted to shadow opposing No. 1 receivers toward the end of last season, perhaps that plan will be re-visited at some point in time.
Giants' defensive captain Antrel Rolle, a teammate of Rodgers-Cromartie with the Arizona Cardinals, expects big things from the Giants' new No. 1 corner:
"I think he’s the best corner in the league, hands down. He’s a phenomenal talent, one of the most gifted corners I’ve ever seen and the sky’s the limit for DRC. He can be as great as he wants to be," Rolle said.
Giants' cornerbacks coach Peter Giunta was asked about Rodgers-Cromartie during mini-camp:
"He's got that other gear. He can run as fast as he needs to run to get up on top of a receiver, catch up to a receiver. He's got that gear that's incredible. He's such a smooth athlete," Giunta said. "His length is so good and his ball skills are fantastic. He's got that great skill set where he's got the speed to recover if he does beat, he's got the quickness to recover. He's got the length to reach out and knock balls away that other corners wouldn't be able to get to and he's got great hands to make plays on the ball in the air. He's got what you're looking for in a corner."
Rodgers-Cromartie said recently that he expects the Giants to let him do what he does best:
"The Giants are a team that definitely wants to go after people defensively, and they want me to be on the outside and lock up (on a receiver)," Rodgers-Cromartie told the Bradenton Herald. "They want me to play man to man, and that's what I do."
That would be a welcome change. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has shown a tendency to be reliant on more complicated zone schemes during his tenure with the Giants. With Rodgers-Cromartie and Amukamara outside and Walter Thurmond in the slot, perhaps that will change.
Rodgers-Cromartie may not turn out to be a Richard Sherman or Darrelle Revis-type shut down corner, but if he can be a good corner who can make the occasional spectacular play and create some turnovers that would be a huge upgrade for the Giants, and it would likely mean they are getting their money's worth.