The New York Giants began the season with two rookie cornerbacks starting on the outside — first-round pick Deonte Banks and summer sensation Tre Hawkins III, a sixth-round pick.
When the Giants decided after a couple of difficult games that Hawkins was not quite ready for prime time, they actually got even younger in the secondary. They replaced the 23-year-old Hawkins in the starting lineup with 22-year-old Cor’Dale Flott, a 2022 third-round pick.
Flott moved into the slot with veteran Adoree’ Jackson, the old man of the group at 28, moving back to his customary outside cornerback spot.
That alignment had actually been the Giants’ original plan, until Hawkins forced them to give him an early-season opportunity.
Flott has started the past two games and played well. He has allowed 10 receptions in 14 targets, but has only surrendered 2.6 yards after catch on those receptions.
“Playing how I want to,” Flott said this week. “Gaining more confidence in myself and the defense. As a team we continue to improve. I’m proud of it.”
Flott played in 11 games with six starts last season. He played 272 snaps as a wide cornerback and only 15 in the slot. This year, 123 of his 148 snaps played have come in the slot.
As a second-year player, Flott feels much better prepared to deal with NFL passing attacks.
“Comfort, knowledge and experience,” Flott said. “Confidence. I feel like that’s the change between this year and last year.”
The 6-foot-2 Flott is also 10 pounds heaver than he was last season, having gotten up to a still thin but sturdier 185 pounds.
Flott said it hasn’t bothered him to shuffle between the slot and outside cornerback roles.
“It isn’t tricky,” he said. “It’s just whatever the defense needs. I can play the corner and the slot position. I’m willing to fill in the spot, whichever’s needed, if we’re down in one or up in the other.
“As long as I’m on the field making plays for the defense and helping us out that’s all that matters.”
With Jackson out vs. the Washington Commanders due to a neck injury, Hawkins returned to the lineup. With the trade deadline coming up on Tuesday and Jackson’s name often mentioned as a player the Giants could move on from, perhaps that alignment is a precursor to what we might see a lot of for the remainder of the season.
Banks, the first-round pick, is also just 22.
“We want to grow together,” Flott said. “We’re not talking about the age thing. That doesn’t concern us because we’re confident in who we are.
“We can grow together, play together, and be excited for each other. That’s the best thing about it.”