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Giants 2021 roster profile: CB James Bradberry

Even with reinforcements, Bradberry remains Giants’ No. 1 cornerback

NFL: Washington Football Team at New York Giants
James Bradberry (24) and his teammates celebrate in interception.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

James Bradberry isn’t the NFL’s most athletic cornerback. He isn’t the most physical. He doesn’t have the longest arms. Bradberry, though, is one of the league’s best cornerbacks.

Needing an experienced No. 1 cornerback a year ago, New York Giants GM Dave Gettleman turned to Bradberry, whom he had drafted for the Carolina Panthers in Round 2 of the 2016 NFL Draft.

Bradberry justified the three-year, $43.5 million ($31.98M guaranteed) contract Gettleman bestowed upon him with the best season of his five-year career.

Let’s take a closer look.

The basics

Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 212
Age: 28 this season
Position: Cornerback
Experience: 5
Contract: Year 2 of three-year, $43.5 (431.98M guaranteed) contract | 2021 cap hit: $13.25 million

Career to date

Bradberry was a nice player for the Carolina Panthers, though probably an under-the-radar. He was a starter from the time Dave Gettleman made him a second-round pick (62nd overall) in the 2016 NFL Draft. He became Carolina’s No. 1 corner, responsible for matching up with players like Julio Jones, Michael Thomas and Mike Evans twice each season. He received little notoriety for his efforts, though.

Gettleman, though, knew what Bradberry could do. When he hit free agency, the Giants pounced. Bradberry turned in the best season of his five-year career. He had career highs in passes defensed (18) and interceptions (3) in 15 games.

2021 outlook

Bradberry will be for the Giants in 2021 exactly what he was in 2020 — the Giants’ No. 1 cornerback.

What will be interesting is how defensive coordinator Patrick Graham employs Bradberry and the rest of the Giants’ secondary.

A season ago, Bradberry played man coverage on only 23.7 percent of his pass coverage snaps, 60th out of 73 qualifying cornerbacks. Isaac Yiadom of the Giants was 61st at 23.5 percent. Per Pro Football Focus, Bradberry’s 8 forced incompletions in 25 targets while in man coverage gave him the second-best man coverage forced incompletion percentage (32 percent) among qualifying NFL cornerbacks. Bradberry’s passer rating against in man coverage was 46.4 per PFF, also second-best among qualifying NFL cornerbacks.

Likely part of why the Giants didn’t use Bradberry in man coverage more in 2020 was that Yiadom was 64th among those 73 cornerbacks with a 38.8 grade in man coverage.

With the free-agent addition of Adoree’ Jackson, the drafting of Aaron Robinson and Rodarius Williams, the fact that Logan Ryan will be a Giant from the beginning and the hope that Xavier McKinney will be healthy from the start the expectation is that the Giants will play more aggressive man coverage schemes in the secondary.

One of the nice things about Bradberry is that he seems to be scheme-diverse, able to succeed no matter what he is asked to play. He also doesn’t seem to care — he just plays what is called.

It will be interesting to see what Bradberry and the Giants’ secondary can do if they are allowed to be more aggressive.