Devante Downs surprisingly, and perhaps by default, played 232 defensive snaps for the New York Giants last season after playing none in his first two NFL season. Then, after the Giants did not tender him as a restricted free agent, turning him loose, on the open market, they somewhat surprisingly re-signed him to a one-year deal.
Does Downs have a role on the 2021 Giants? Let’s examine the question as we continue profiling each of the 90 players the Giants will bring to training camp this summer.
Contract: One-year, $1.02 million | Guaranteed: $75,000 | 2021 cap hit: $1.02M
Career to date
Drafted in the seventh round (225th overall) by the MInnesota Vikings in 2018, Downs spent a year in Minnesota. He spent the last two seasons in New York with the Giants.
With David Mayo hurt at the beginning of the season and not yet trusting rookies like Tae Crowder, Carter Coughlin or T.J. Brunson, the Giants pushed Downs into the lineup.
The results were decidedly mixed.
Downs lost his job after three weeks, regained it when Crowder was injured, then played only 36 total defensive snaps over the season’s final five weeks.
Downs finished the season with a Pro Football Focus grade of 46.2, mostly due to sub-par run defense (a 35.0 grade). As a pass defender, Downs gave up 18 completions in 23 targets, per PFF, for a passer rating against of 108.5.
Downs is a useful special teams player, having earned 251 special teams snaps in 2020. Considering the Giants’ additions at linebacker, including Reggie Ragland, Crowder’s emergence, and the versatility of Coughlin I have a difficult time seeing Downs making the 53-man roster. Unless there are injuries. If that happens, he is at least a capable special teamer who knows the defense well enough to fill in.