Is defensive back Julian Love really the most underrated player on the New York Giants roster?
Pro Football Focus thinks so, writing the following while listing every NFL team’s most underrated player:
The Giants’ secondary has some definite question marks with DeAndre Baker facing possible legal trouble and an unproven group at cornerback behind free agent acquisition James Bradberry. But Julian Love is someone they should feel pretty good about after a promising start to his NFL career as a rookie last season. Love is a guy who graded extremely well at the college ranks as an outside cornerback for the Fighting Irish, earning coverage grades of 83.7 and 90.9 during his final two seasons with Notre Dame. Love followed that up by coming away from the 2019 season with an encouraging 70.5 overall grade despite being a 21-year-old rookie playing a new position. Whether he remains at safety or moves back to cornerback to potentially fill in for Baker outside, Love is a player to watch as he enters his second season.
Most underrated? I don’t know about that. If I really dove into it I think I could come up with arguments for a few guys. Dalvin Tomlinson perhaps. Sterling Shepard. Even — gasp! — Leonard Williams. Maybe Kevin Zeitler, because I can’t figure out how Zeitler has not made a single Pro Bowl in eight excellent seasons.
Still, this is about Love. What I do believe is that even after the additions of James Bradberry and Xavier McKinney the importance of Love to the 2020 Giants secondary cannot be overestimated.
McKinney’s presence means Love likely won’t function as a full-time free safety, the role the former coaching staff was allegedly training him for last season when he mystifyingly spent the first 10 games of the season chained to the bench. The return to health of Jabrill Peppers means he likely won’t be a full-time strong safety, the position he played over the final few games after Peppers was injured.
If DeAndre Baker is not available to the Giants at the start of the season, the first thought has been that Sam Beal and Corey Ballentine would compete for that job. Maybe Love should be part of that equation, as well.
Maybe Love is a slot cornerback, the position it seemed the Giants originally drafted him in Round 4 a year ago to play. His primary competition there could be this year’s fourth-round pick, Darnay Holmes.
Maybe, and this might be the most accurate projection of all, in a defense that is apparently going to rely on versatile players who can be moved around as needed on a week-to-week, even a play-to-play, basis, Love is a movable chess piece who can be employed in a multitude of roles.
As PFF indicated, when Pat Shurmur and James Bettcher finally saw fit to get him on the field a season ago Love played exceptionally well. He doesn’t appear to be the most gifted defensive back in any single area, but he is a good player who can function in several different roles.
I don’t know if that makes him the team’s most underrated player. It certainly, though, should make him. a valuable one.