Pro Football Focus is not a fan of the New York Giants’ secondary unit.
In their comprehensive ranking of every defensive backfield in the NFL, PFF slotted the Giants as the 27th-best group. The Giants are down three spots from last year’s exercise. The cross-town rival Jets came in dead last, while the Baltimore Ravens grabbed the No. 1 spot.
Truth be told, the low ranking for the Giants feels harsh but earnest.
While the Giants signed James Bradberry in free agency to be their lead corner, PFF fairly points out he hasn’t quite lived up to his true potential. Additionally, Pro Football Focus notes the Giants have a mishmash of players behind Bradberry.
DeAndre Baker consistently made mistakes as a rookie, and he is now on the Commissioner’s Exempt List after he was allegedly involved in a robbery during the offseason. Behind Baker is Sam Beal, who can’t seem to stay on the field. The depth after Baker and Beal is Grant Haley, Corey Ballentine, who struggled immensely as a rookie and rookies Darnay Holmes, Chris Williamson and Montre Hartage.
With so an average age of 23.4, there’s a lot of potential upside with the cornerback group. They need to prove it on the field, though.
The Giants are more set at safety than they are at corner. Jabrill Peppers, who was acquired in the infamous Odell Beckham Jr. trade, started the season slowly but played well toward the end of his campaign. Peppers isn’t great in deep coverage, but he’s a hard hitter and an explosive athlete with palpable energy.
The Giants drafted Xavier McKinney in the second round of this year’s draft to play alongside Peppers. While there will almost undoubtedly be a learning curve for McKinney, he was one of the most polished prospects in this year’s draft class. For the most part, Nick Saban-coached players have high football IQ, and McKinney figures to be an early starter.
The wild card in the secondary is Julian Love. Love played well when given an opportunity last year, but it remains to be seen whether he can fend off McKinney for a starting spot. If nothing else, Love will likely see substantial playing time in three-safety sets.
With the Giants lacking a dominant pass rush, they’re going to need the secondary to play better than the NFL’s 27th-best unit to have a chance this year.