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Film study: What are Giants getting in CB Isaac Yiadom?

Let’s look at his time with the Denver Broncos

NFL: DEC 15 Broncos at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New York Giants continue to add secondary pieces to their roster in an attempt to supplement the loss of DeAndre Baker, Sam Beal, and Xaiver McKinney. The Giants this week traded a seventh-round selection to the Denver Broncos for Isaac Yiadom, a third-year cornerback out of Boston College. The former 2018 third-round selection struggled in 2019, but will play in a new scheme under the tutelage of Patrick Graham.

In 2018, Yiadom 224 snaps at boundary cornerback and lined up 17 times in the slot. Last season, he lined up 439 times at the outside corner position. In his two seasons with Denver, he’s recorded 49 tackles, 1 interception and 4 PBUs. He’s been targeted 88 times, surrendering 61 catches (69.3 percent) for 817 yards and 3 touchdowns.

I remember watching Yiadom down at the Senior Bowl in 2018; I thought he practiced well throughout the week. His combine wasn’t as impressive:

He’s got good cornerback size/length, but his athletic ability is sub-par. The lack of solid athletic ability does show up on tape, but it’s exacerbated by some sloppy technique as well.

Above, Yiadom is playing outside shade against the Green Bay’s Marquez Valdes-Scantling (83). The footwork on the outside shaded backpedal is choppy and he’s not balanced whatsoever, which can be seen when he attempts to follow the route inside. His center of gravity is a bit too high. His coverage is forcing the receiver inward towards teammates, which is designed. But after Yiadom collects his balance to catch up with the receiver, he over pursues to the inside hip where there’s a safety, surrendering the outside leverage that was once his responsibility. This allows Valdes-Scantling to break back outside for an easy catch.

Jon Gruden of the Raiders exploited Yiadom in the two games played between the teams. Those games were Week 1 and Week 17. In those matchups, the Raiders targeted Yiadom 22 times for 17 catches, which surrendered 287 yards.

Yiadom is at the top of the screen against Tyrell Williams (16). Yiadom has no safety help and he’s off the receiver by about 5 yards. It’s a tough spot to be in on a third-and-short, but Yiadom didn’t protect the inside. He gets his feet stuck in the mud a bit and allows Williams, who has momentum running towards him, to chew grass quickly while not establishing any momentum of his own. This can work for corners with quick acceleration, but Yiadom isn’t excellent in that category.

Oakland made it a point to attack Yiadom and did what they could to put mismatches against the cornerback. This is a size and athletic mismatch for the corner, but his technique is solid; Yiadom is able to make contact with tight end Darren Waller (83), force him outside (where he was going anyways), and then stick right into the inside hip pocket of the athletic tight end. Yiadom attempts to ride him off the red-line, but he doesn’t have the strength to do so (which is understandable). It takes a very good throw from Derek Carr and a nice catch for a completion to happen.

Yiadom’s ability to click-and-close is a bit hindered on the break. His athletic ability to stop start is adequate, but his technique isn’t great. Watch at the break when he plants his outside foot to explode back to Waller. His chest rises and he becomes off-balanced, so he uses his arms to try and re-balance himself to come downhill and make a tackle on Waller. That subtle hitch and lack of explosiveness allows Waller to turn around and start running forward, which is a problem for the much smaller Yiadom. If the corner stayed balanced, planted his outside foot and drove downward, then Yiadom may have halted Waller at the catch point.

Above, we again see the explosiveness and balance is marginal out of the break on a click-and- close, this time on an out route. After the catch, he regains position outside towards the sideline, mainly due to the inside spin move by the receiver, and then he makes a tackle.

Yiadom is at the top of the screen against Danny Amendola (80). Amendola chews grass to get right up to a stagnant Yiadom, which forces the corner to lunge and become off balance with no momentum. Amendola runs a quick curl and Yiadom’s momentum is now trying to compensate for the vertical speed that was shown in the stem. The balance becomes off-kilted and it results in an easy catch for Amendola.

There are some technical and athletic limitations to Yiadom’s game, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a useful commodity.

Here we see Yiadom come off a slant/flat combination where he generates momentum and delivers a big shot against a tight end who is much larger. Yiadom goes low, wraps up, and twists to bring the tight end to the deck. He also does an adequate job as a contain defender most of the time.

Justin Simmons (31) does an excellent job shooting the B-Gap to halt the wham block against the 3-technique from springing a big play, but Yiadom doesn’t get sucked inside and he doesn’t allow the running back outside, either. He attacks the outside leg and makes the tackle.

On the first play in this sequence, he comes down, hits low, and wraps up for a solid tackle. He attacks the outside leg and doesn’t allow the running back to bounce outside. On the second play, he contains and gets the job done, despite leaving his feet and not wrapping up. Last season, Yiadom had 9 missed tackles according to PFF; the play below shows less than stellar job of containing Melvin Gordon on the edge.

Yiadom comes downhill and allows Gordon to bounce the run to the outside. He falls for the slight stutter step and the acceleration/lateral agility of Gordon is able to create separation against Yiadom until teammates are able to clean the play up.

Final thoughts

Yiadom is an adequate depth piece who can contribute on special teams. However, the Giants’ current roster is barren for a proven starting boundary cornerback, if Logan Ryan is used in a multitude of different ways (I believe Ryan will be used outside, but not exclusively). Right now, the Giants will either use Corey Ballentine, Jarren Williams, Prince Smith, Kei’Varae Russell or Brandon Williams if Ryan is not playing outside, opposite of James Bradberry.

The trade for Yiadom was inexpensive. While he doesn’t possess great athletic ability for a cornerback, there are a lot of technical issues that defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham can possibly correct. The Giants need to create a lot of competition for this starting spot on defense, and Yiadom’a addition helps do that.