James Bradberry gave the New York Giants their best cornerback play since Janoris Jenkins’ 2016 Pro Bowl season. With a revolving door at the other corner, though, the Giants enter the offseason hoping to find someone to pair with Bradberry who will allow defensive coordinator Patrick Graham to play more aggressive coverage schemes.
Let’s look at the players who manned the corners for the Giants in 2020.
Starters: James Bradberry, Darnay Holmes, Isaac Yiadom
Backups: Madre Harper, Julian Love, Ryan Lewis (finished season on IR)
Practice squad: Jarron Williams, Quincy Wilson
Released: Corey Ballentine, Brandon Williams
Opt out: Sam Beal
Needing a No. 1 cornerback, the Giants turned to a player Dave Gettleman had drafted while GM of the Carolina Panthers. Bradberry responded with the best season of his career.
In 15 games, Bradberry had 18 passes defensed. That was a career high and second-most of any NFL defensive back. His Pro Football Focus grade of 79.8, yards allowed per reception of 10.3 and passer rating against of 70.1 were all career bests.
Bradberry is a soft-spoken player who lets his play speak for itself.
The Giants selected Holmes in the fourth round (110th overall), installed him as their slot cornerback and watched him have a solid rookie season until a knee injury limited him over the final few weeks.
Holmes played in 12 games, allowing 33 completions in 44 targets (75 percent) with a solid passer rating against of 87.6. In a league where rookie cornerbacks are often easy targets for opposing offenses, Holmes held his own.
The Giants have a number of safeties like Xavier McKinney, Jabrill Peppers, Logan Ryan and Julian Love who can handle some slot responsibilities along with Holmes. Thus, a position of weakness in recent years appears now to be one that is well stocked.
Unhappy with their depth at cornerback, the Giants acquired Yiadom from the Denver Broncos for a seventh-round pick right before the season began. Yiadom ended up playing in all 16 games for the Giants, including 10 starts.
Yiadom struggled early on after taking over for Corey Ballentine, got benched, re-emerged and played well as a starter for several weeks, then had rough games against the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens and was benched in favor of Julian Love in the season finale against the Dallas Cowboys.
Yiadom finished the season with 46 tackles, 5 passes defensed and a passer rating against of 120.6.
The Giants are Lewis’s eighth NFL franchise in just four seasons. He was familiar to Graham from time he spent in Miami in 2019, and the Giants brought him to New Jersey to add depth. Lewis played in five games with three starts. He was victimized for game-changing big plays in the closing seconds of losses to both the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles during the first half of the season.
Lewis ended up surrendering 10 completions in 19 targets and allowing a passer rating against of 90.2.
The Giants plucked this undrafted rookie from the Las Vegas Raiders practice squad on Oct. 1. Harper has all of the physical traits defensive coordinator Patrick Graham loves. Size at 6-foot-2, 196 pounds. Long arms (33⅞, 99th percentile). Speed, with a 4.48 40-yard dash time that is 67th percentile. A burst score that puts him in the 95th percentile.
Harper played in only nine games, with a knee injury interrupting his season, and only saw 33 defensive snaps. Harper, 23, is a player the Giants might want to continue working with.
The Giants parted ways with 2019 first-round pick DeAndre Baker and saw Sam Beal opt out of the 2020 season. Corey Ballentine began the season as a starter, flopped, got benched, eventually got waived and is now a member of the New York Jets. Julian Love got an opportunity late in the season, but even Love believes the Giants see him as a jack of all trades rather than full-time player at any individual spot in the secondary.