The New York Giants were brimming with young, promising cornerback talent last season. The team selected Georgia’s DeAndre Baker in the first round, Julian Love in the fourth round, and Corey Ballentine in the sixth round. Sam Beal was selected in the third round of the 2018 supplemental draft. Baker showed promise late in the season, and I have high hopes for his development if he’s committed, but Ballentine and Beal still need to prove themselves. Adding James Bradberry in free agency gives the Giants a solid, young, starting cornerback tandem, but the team shouldn’t be fully content at the position.
LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton is an excellent prospect who shows impressive man coverage skills. His combine doesn’t suggest a great athlete, but his play speed is there. I don’t necessarily envision the Giants going cornerback at 36, but I think Fulton’s man coverage ability would mesh well with defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s scheme. If the Giants do trade back and acquire more Day 2 assets, then Fulton could be interesting, if he slides a bit in the draft. It all depends on the value. This corner class is talented and it’s going under the radar because of the depth at other positions.
Prospect: Kristian Fulton (CB, LSU)
Games watched: at Alabama (2019), at Vanderbilt (2019), at Mississippi State (2019), vs. Clemson (2020)
Red flags: Suspended 19 months for using another player’s urine to pass a physical; missed entire 2017 season. Had season ending surgery on his left foot after Week 10 of the 2018 season.
Games played (starts): 24 (21)
Tackles for a loss: 2.0
Forced fumbles: 1
Passes defensed: 20
Games played (starts): 15 (15)
Tackles for a loss: 1.0
Forced Fumbles: 0
Passes Defensed: 14
Best: Man Coverage, Recovery Speed, Click & Close, Suddenness
Worst: Aiming Points in Tackling, Interception Production
Projection: A starting corner who can effectively play man and zone coverages
Solid overall size, with poor length and solid athletic ability that is highlighted by an above-average change of direction, closing burst, and lateral movement skills. Fulton is patient at the line of scrimmage and typically shows good discipline and footwork when lined up in press coverage. He does a good job jamming and riding receivers up the stem to prevent stacking. Fulton shows very good competitive toughness throughout receivers routes. He squeezes receivers off their stem and off the “red-line” towards the sidelines to limit space.
Fulton is an excellent man coverage corner who stays in the hip pocket of most receivers and does a good job staying in phase on horizontal crosses, due to his foot speed and reactionary skills. He has fluid/smooth backpedal and hips and is a good zone coverage corner with a high football IQ. He reacts well to high/low situations and forces quarterbacks into tough decisions. Fulton anticipates and comes off routes very well underneath while reading, reacting, and attacking aggressively through the catch point. His closing burst and recovery speed are excellent. He does a great job tracking the football and disrupts the catch point with his arms and with physicality. Fulton is a willing tackler.
Typically good at the line of scrimmage, Fulton seemed to struggle with the release of Clemson’s Tee Higgins. He can get grabby at the top of breaks and can draw some yellow in that regard. He could do a better job securing interceptions. Fulton is a low tackler, which I love, but his mechanics aren’t ideal. He drops his head which hurts his aiming points and leads to missed tackles. He also tends to wildly throw his body in the direction of ball carriers. Overall, a two-way coverage player that is smart, and has impressive reactionary skills up a receiver’s stem and while attacking the catch point.
Overall Grade: 6.4 - Possesses the talent to become a dependable starter within the first couple of seasons and should be an immediate contributor for any team he joins. [Grading Scale]
Fulton projects as a starting cornerback in the NFL. He can be a No. 2 cornerback on a man coverage based team as a rookie. His jam ability suggests he’d be a solid addition to the Cover 3 bail type of teams like the Seahawks, 49ers, or Chargers, but his 30 ⅝” arms are below the typical threshold those teams tend to add. By Year 3, Fulton should be the No. 1 cornerback for a team, or a very strong No. 2.
Fulton’s versatility with man or zone coverage gives defenses a lot of options. He could be a better tackler and I would love for him to be a bit better at securing interceptions, but he’s disruptive through receivers routes, brings physicality at the catch point, and uses good closing burst and recovery speed to compensate for the rare mistakes he made at the line of scrimmage. Overall, Fulton should be a fine addition to a defense at the top of the second round. He could even slide to the late second round, due to the depth of the corners in the 2020 draft class.