The New York Giants will enter the 2017 season with a trio of cornerbacks as good, on paper, as any group of corners in the NFL. With Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple in the fold, is cornerback a position the Giants should be looking to supplement in the 2017 NFL Draft?
Perhaps. Let’s take a closer look.
Additions: Valentino Blake
Subtractions: Trevin Wade, Coty Sensabaugh, Leon Hall
Current roster: Eli Apple, Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Valentino Blake, Michael Hunter, Donte Deayon
Medium to low
One of my strong beliefs is that NFL defenses can never have enough quality cornerbacks. Jenkins showed last season that he is in his prime and is one of the league’s best. Apple, the 2016, first-round pick, showed oodles of promise and at just 22 should be even better next season. Rodgers-Cromartie had a fantastic season, easily the best of his three years with the Giants, while playing mostly in the slot.
The Giants lost reserve Coty Sensabaugh to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Leon Hall remains a free agent and the Giants don’t seem to have interest in bringing back Trevin Wade. They did add veteran Valentino Blake for depth. They also have youngsters Michael Hunter and Donte Deayon, who each showed promise during the 2016 preseason.
So, what’s to worry about? Well, for starters, how much longer is Rodgers-Cromartie going to be an effective player, or a member of the Giants? Rodgers-Cromartie is 31 and despite how well he played last year he is pretty much on a year-to-year basis right now. He’s a guy who relies on his speed, and he’s dealt with hamstring and groin issues the past two years. He is under contract thru 2018, but the Giants could save $6.5 million against the cap by cutting him after 2017.
The 2017 draft class is said to be rich at the cornerback spot. The CBS Sports Big Board lists 17 cornerbacks with draft grades in Round 3 or higher, and 39 with draftable grades.
In most of the seven-round simulated mock drafts I have done I have selected a developmental cornerback for the Giants on Day 3. I believe that to be a realistic possibility. Could they select a corner earlier? Of course, if they draft at a point where they have one on their board graded too highly to pass up. I find that unlikely, though, given that there seem to be so many other areas that require attention.
Five Day 3 possibilities
Channing Stribling, Michigan
Dane Brugler in 2017 NFL Draft Guide: “He is tall and long with the vertical speed and arm length to take away passing lanes and when he’s locked in, he looks like a future NFL starter. However, Stribling tends to guess a lot and savvy receivers are easily able to create spacing at the top of routes, causing Stribling to grab and attract penalties. With his inexperience, Stribling is still very raw and projects to the NFL as a developmental press-corner who will need a patient coaching staff to stay on the roster.”
Jeremy Cutrer, Tennessee
Brugler: “He has an intriguing blend of height, length and athleticism to easily attach himself hip-to-hip with receivers on go routes, but needs to clean up his sink mechanics to better shadow on underneath and in-cutting routes. Cutrer also needs to tidy up technique issues as a tackler to be a reliable run defender on the outside. There are some question marks regarding his physicality and coverage skills vs. shifty receivers, but Cutrer has intriguing measureables, competitive drive and ball production that will appeal to NFL teams who covet long, press corners — still at the basement of his development and should improve once he received NFL coaching and fills out his frame.”
Nate Hairston, Temple
Brugler says: “He needs an overhaul with his footwork and overall mechanics in coverage, often relying on side-saddle technique to hide those issues and keep an eye on the pocket. He plays quick, but not explosive and lacks the elite athleticism to make up for the wasted movements he shows on tape. Overall, Hairston has the toughness and competitive mentality to play on the defense, but requires a prepared coaching staff who will invest the time to develop his instincts, technique and consistency at cornerback.”
Marquez White, Florida State
Brugler says: “He is a good-sized athlete with the combination of foot quickness, arm length and speed that NFL teams covet for the position. However, White is unrefined with his jam technique, pedal mechanics and ball awareness downfield, playing the man, but struggling to get his head turned to find the ball. Mentally, he isn’t a natural in coverage, but displays a raw understanding of what he is doing with room to be coached up. Overall, White is a traits prospect with the tools worth developing, but needs work before ready to see his NFL snaps – mid-round draft pick who will be higher rated by teams who want long, press corners.”
Jalen Myrick, Minnesota
Brugler says: “A two-year starter at Minnesota, Myrick showed encouraging flashes as a part-time starter in 2015 and lined up at both left and right cornerback as a senior, often following the opponent’s top receiver. He clocked the second-fastest 40-yard dash time at the Scouting Combine and his timed speed matches his play speed, unlocking his hips and running like the wind. Myrick is a dialed-in, tough competitor who won’t fall asleep at the wheel, but he needs to tidy up his spacing in coverage and mechanics as a run defender. Overall, he wasn’t much of a playmaker downfield on film and sports only average size, but Myrick has the confidence and speed to consistently stay in phase with wideouts.”