It’s not groundbreaking analysis to say that the New York Giants need to get better production from their cornerback position.
DeAndre Baker, Sam Beal, and Corey Ballentine are all very young and often left the Giants wanting on the back end of their defense. They certainly did make plays over the course of the season, but there were too many instances of broken coverages (particularly in zone coverage) and they struggled to hold up when the Giants tried to blitz to create pressure.
The Giants absolutely should continue to work with their young corners and help them improve. But they could also invest draft capital in further reinforcing the position. The name that stands out is Ohio State corner Jeffery Okudah, who could be in play with the fourth overall pick. Okudah is long, fast, and fluid, with the skills to be a press-man corner in the NFL.
Okudah would certainly be an upgrade for the Giants’ defense, but there are other ways they could go in the first round. So what about other prospects who could be had later in the draft?
Kristian Fulton (LSU)
Similar to Okudah, Fulton is long, athletic, and has the skillset to be a press-man corner at the next level. He doesn’t quite have Okudah’s ball skills and has had some off-field issues which will need checking out. If those issues are behind him and the Giants are comfortable with Fulton’s character, he could be an option in a trade-down scenario
Trevon Diggs (Alabama)
The Giants struggled in zone coverage last year, but Diggs could help remedy that. He has the size (6-foot-2, 207 pounds) and athleticism to play in man coverage, but Diggs also shows a good understanding of zone concepts. Diggs shows an understanding of responsibility, spacing, and communication that the Giants’ corners just did not show last year. His presence could give new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham more options in calling coverages and disguising pressure.
Diggs was a two-way player early on at Alabama, playing offense as well as serving as a core special teams player. His skill set is definitely intriguing.
Damon Arnette (Ohio State)
Arnette was the “other” corner for Ohio State this year, with Okudah and Shaun Wade (a sophomore) getting most of the attention. Arnette doesn’t have the size or athletic upside of OSU’s other corners but he has enough to stick with most receivers down the field. He is also a smart, savvy defender who is comfortable in both man and zone coverage. He didn’t generate many turnovers, but he was reliable and is almost always in position to deny the catch.
Bryce Hall (Virginia)
Unfortunately, Hall wasn’t able to follow up on his spectacular junior season with a strong senior campaign thanks to an ankle injury which required surgery and ended his year early. Assuming he is healthy for the draft process, Hall will likely rise up draft boards. He has prototypical size, enough athleticism, experience in man, off, and zone coverage, and excellent ball skills. He finished his junior year with 22 passes defensed, tied for the most in the country.
Hall will likely earn rave reviews in pre-combine interviews. He has been the face of Virginia’s program since becoming a starter as a true freshman, is a team captain, is involved with campus organizations, is heavily involved around the community, and is generally loved around the program. If the Giants are looking for a versatile high-character player to add to their defense, Hall will certainly catch their eye.
Levonta Taylor (Florida State)
The Giants tried to get all three of their young corners on the field at the same time, but it quickly became clear that neither Sam Beal nor Corey Ballentine are slot corners. It also became clear that Grant Haley wasn’t building on his rookie year in the slot either.
The Giants need a slot corner, and that could be FSU’s Levonta Taylor. Taylor is a natural corner with great quickness and fluidity, an understanding of route concepts, instincts, and excellent ball skills. But listed at 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds (and that might be generous), he is the type of player who tends to slide down draft boards. He might not have the physical tools that highly drafted corners boast, but he could be an answer for the Giants as a slot defender in the middle rounds.