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Giants’ 90-man roster: Julian Love will push for role as slot cornerback

Fourth-round pick competing with Grant Haley

NFL: New York Giants-Minicamp
Julian Love during mini-camp. TODAY NETWORK

Where does Julian Love, one of of the overabundance of New York Giants cornerbacks who have never played an NFL snap, fit into the team’s plans? Let’s look at the fourth-round pick out of Notre Dame as we continue profiling the 90 players the Giants will bring to training camp.

The basics

Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 195
Age: 21
Position: Cornerback
Experience: 0

How he got here

We have written about this before, but let’s cover it again. After being named a Consensus All-American in 2018, Love and the people close to him expected to hear his name called no later than Day 2 of the 2019 NFL Draft.

The Giants figured the same. They had traded a fourth-round pick (No. 132) and fifth-round pick (No. 142) to move up and get cornerback DeAndre Baker in the first round. Needing a pass rusher, the Giants took Oshane Ximines at No. 95 in Round 3.

GM Dave Gettleman and the Giants brass then anxiously watched 12 more players come off the board before their turn to select again at No. 108. Despite the big move for Baker, they didn’t hesitate to select Love.

“We were shocked he was there. We were thrilled, obviously. He was sticking out on our board like a sore thumb,” Gettleman said. “He’s a complete defensive back. He’s got all the movement. He’s got the ability to carry the vertical and he plays the nickel. And he tackles — there’s a crazy concept, tackling.”

Love played 38 games for the Fighting Irish, intercepting five passes and returning two of those for touchdowns. Love also had 36 passes defensed in his last two seasons at Notre Dame.

The 12th cornerback selected in the draft, many analysts believe selecting Love was the best move the Giants made in the draft.

The Draft Network said:

I think the Giants’ best value of this entire class falls at the feet of Julian Love. Love is a productive corner who (like Baker) won’t shine in off-man coverage, but he will beat the tar out of you at the line of scrimmage. I’d assume functional athleticism was a key area of concern for Love, seeing as how he tumbled out of the top three rounds. But here? At 108? The value is a no brainer.

We’ve already briefly discussed the merits of attacking the defensive backfield in the NFC East, doubling down on a physical corner like Love protects the Giants from depth issues. You can never have too many cornerbacks.

2019 outlook

The Giants have been candid that they think Love has the skills to one day play free safety, where Antoine Bethea, 35 when the season begins, will one day lose to Father Time. For now, at least, the Giants are using Love in the slot. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher has said he believes that is Love’s natural position. Throughout the spring he worked primarily as the No. 2 slot cornerback behind Grant Haley.

First-round picks Baker and Dexter Lawrence had similar second-team beginnings, but already appear to have earned starting roles. It would surprise no one if Love eventually works his way past Haley to become the No. 1 slot corner on the Giants’ depth chart.