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Maurice Canady film breakdown: Can veteran cornerback help the Giants?

Indianapolis Colts v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The New York Giants recently signed cornerback Maurice Canady to bolster their secondary depth. The 27-year-old was a sixth-round selection out of Virginia in 2016 by the Baltimore Ravens. He spent the 2021 season with the Dallas Cowboys, where he played 70 total defensive snaps. Canady opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19, and he spent 2017-2019 in Baltimore.

Canady missed the 2016 season with a hamstring injury that landed him on Injured Reserve. He also spent the second half of the 2019 season with the New York Jets after the Ravens waived him. He’s surrendered a catch on 69 percent of his targets, with five passes defended and one career interception.

Canady has aligned 366 times as the nickel or dime back, 364 times outside at CB, and 44 times in the box as a Big Nickel or dollar back. Canady played most of his nickel/dime snaps in 2017 (288 snaps). He’s recorded 86 tackles, with three for a loss and two forced fumbles.

Canady has good size for a cornerback with solid length and athletic traits. He’s a depth piece who can compete for snaps with Rodarius Williams. Canady can play inside and outside with familiarity in Wink Martindale system. Let’s break down some clips.

Maurice Canady is No. 31 with Dallas and No. 26 with Baltimore

Man coverage

Canady can play man coverage adequately. His transitions and discipline aren’t always consistently efficient. However, he can flip his hips and carry routes vertically, maintaining position in phase against solid wide receivers.

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With Sam Darnold (14) on the far hash, Canady played inside leverage outside the divider line of DJ Moore (2). Despite being synonymous with the Cover-3 Seattle Seahawks, Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Dan Quinn ran the most Cover-1 in the NFL last season. According to PFF, Quinn ran 34.8 percent of their defensive snaps in Cover-1. In the play above, Canady is in a good position to play inside-out on Moore; his backpedal is smooth, he promptly flips his hips, and he carries the vertical with ease.

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Dallas aligns in a match defense, and Canady is in MEG coverage (Man Everywhere he Goes). Canady does a solid job flipping his hips after taking his first step towards the line of scrimmage and deciding not to engage in the jam. Canady stays in an excellent position on top of Moore’s release, playing high and over the top with inside leverage because there’s no safety help with the pre-snap safety matching the crossing routes from the three-receiver side. Canady stays in phase for more than 20 yards, riding the inside hip of Moore off the red line and towards the sideline.

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Canady does a good job with his pre-snap positioning to the field side. Collin Johnson (15) releases from the bottom of the numbers, angling slightly outside, but Canady doesn’t panic; he shuffles upfield and squeezes as he flips his hips and quick triggers downhill as Johnson sinks his hips. Canady is draped all over Johnson throughout his break, showing confidence and excellent timing.

Man issues

Canady does a better job in the latter stages of reps, but there are times when he allows his feet to adversely affect his effectiveness. When receivers get into his cushion, he doesn’t always bring his feet with his upper body, and he tends to over-anticipate wide receiver’s breaks.

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Firstly, this isn’t a bad play from Canady, who displays solid recovery skills. He is aligned in outside leverage - so his job is to influence Adam Humphries (13) towards the inside, where he has safety help over the top. Canady is a bit late to engage his hands, and he fails to bring his feet with him and shuffle outside to match Humphries release. The receiver gains good leverage outside and runs a quick double-move, but Canady acquires his hip at the bottom of the number 20. Humphrey then bends and gains a step, but Canady is in a relatively solid position, displaying good recovery after sloppiness with his feet.

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Canady gets caught leaning badly after Auden Tate (19) uses a solid inside jab foot at the line of scrimmage. Canady is heavy on his feet with all of his weight on his inside leg - fooled by the deceptive release - which puts him in a disadvantageous position to handle the outside break. Canady deserves credit for flipping his hips and getting back into phase, but his balance is shot, he’s panicked, and he is in no position to handle the back-shoulder throw.

Getting grabby

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As previously mentioned, Canady over-pursues at times, and this leads to him grabbing when he’s beat. His reactionary quickness and ability to adapt on the fly are marginal. Moore does an excellent job exploding outside and Canady can never recollect his balance on the play. This was the worst play I saw from Canady — typically, he can come to balance and recover well (as we saw above) — but the struggles to adapt and the grabbiness are littered in his tape. He has seven career penalties.

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Here’s a defensive pass interference against Quez Watkins (16) where Canady plays outside leverage. Watkins runs a little outside break as Canady closes width; Canady grabs Watkins’ hip but doesn’t stay with the receiver out of his break. The ball is underthrown, and Watkins makes the catch, but Canady was scrambling to recover and never located the football. He was flagged on the play.

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There were several plays throughout Canady’s tape that didn’t draw yellow laundry but could have elicited penalties. He’s in a good position off the receiver’s release and gets tied up with the receiver at the sticks. Canady engages the receiver with his inside arm, which could have drawn a flag, but Canady does do a great job moving that hand up and through the catch point to force the incompletion. We see a similar initiation of contact in these five plays as well:

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Canady has a propensity to grab, which allows him easier access to play through the receiver’s hands physically. However, there are impressive plays such as the one below where he is engaged off the line of scrimmage:

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Canady isn’t deterred after the contact, nor does he grab; he stays poised and keeps his hips low while reacting suddenly to handle the inside pivot move. This was an impressive way to earn a pass defensed in a condensed area of the field.

Eye discipline

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Canady did a good job with zone and match principles where he is reading the releases of receivers and then reacting after their routes are declared. Canady quickly sees the No. 2 receiver release outside to pick Marlon Humphrey (41); Canady notices the quick passing concept, flashes his eyes at the No. 1 receiver, and sees the inside break before getting his eyes on the quarterback to see if he can earn an interception while flying downhill. Andy Dalton (14) does a good job not leading his receiver so Canady doesn’t get the interception, but the cornerback reads the play well and puts himself in a position to earn a turnover.

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Here’s Canady’s lone interception. Baker Mayfield (6) goes into the mesh point of the RPO and decides to throw. Canady reads the skinny post and undercuts the route to come away with the pick. It doesn’t appear that Jarvis Landry (80) expected Mayfield to throw the football.

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In a two-high zone, Canady does a good job flashing his eyes at the No. 2 receiver after the No. 1 releases inside on the slant/flat concept. Darnold wants to throw the football to the flat, but Canady eliminates that possibility by reading the routes in front of him and putting himself in the correct position.

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Canady does a good job seeing the backside drag coming on the follow concept. He doesn’t allow himself to get tunnel vision on Humphries, who releases outside on a slot fade.

Tackling

Canady isn’t afraid to tackle. He only has five missed tackle on his resume. He flies downhill with a solid tackle radius; there are times where he allows himself to get stiff-armed. In the play above, he does a great job diagnosing the play and seeing the lead blockers in front. He works through the traffic and squares up to Jalen Hurts (2) before going low and making a nice tackle near the sideline.

Canady also does a solid job holding ball carriers up when he can’t bring them down, allowing him to go for the strip to force fumbles.

Canady eats two stiff arms on these two plays but does a solid job forcing the ball carrier East to West and out of bounds. Canady doesn’t have the most pop, but he is a good overall tackler who isn’t a liability on the field.

Final thoughts

The Giants added a solid depth piece to a secondary where snaps can still be earned. Canady knows the defensive coordinator and offers some versatility. He’s no shoo-in to make the roster, but a good camp can lead to playing time on Sunday. I appreciate his ability to read route concepts and react in zone and his hip fluidity is more than functional. He’s not perfect with his feet at the line of scrimmage, and he gets grabby at the top of receiver’s breaks. I welcome off-season fliers on players like Canady.