The cornerback position is one of many points of emphasis for the New York Giants as the 2023 free agent cycle fastly approaches. Big Blue’s pro-personnel department did an excellent job of identifying Fabian Moreau and Nick McCloud to supplement their cornerback room when injuries befell the Giants' secondary.
New York now has some cap space to work with, albeit the contracts of quarterback Daniel Jones and/or Saquon Barkley will occupy some of that available money. Still, the Giants don’t need to a top-of-the-market cornerback to bolster their defense. There are cheaper options available who could play a crucial role in the 2023 season, and Isaiah Oliver could be one of those options.
Age: 26 in the 2023 season
Height: 6-foot | Weight: 201
Experience: 5 seasons
2022 stats: Games: 12 | Tackles: (28) | Stops: (10) | Passes defended: (5) | Touchdowns Surrendered: (0) | Interceptions: (1) | Reception percentage: (68.4 percent) | Missed tackles (8, 17 percent)
Oliver is a big, strong, long cornerback with 97th percentile arm length and wingspan.
The Phoenix kid attended the University of Colorado and was a second-round pick by the Atlanta Falcons in 2018. He played five seasons with the Falcons. After his rookie contract, Oliver signed a one-year, $2.3 million contract for the 2022 season. At the time, he was ailing from a torn ACL that he suffered in Week 4 of the 2021 season.
Oliver is a good athlete with elite length for the position. The former decathlete was activated from the Injured Reserve ahead of the Falcons’ Week 6 matchup against the 49ers. He played 349 snaps for Dean Pees’ defense; he knocked five passes away with an interception while surrendering zero touchdowns in 2022.
His primary alignment was in the slot. He played 262 snaps as a slot defender, 44 snaps in the box, 18 outside, 15 at free safety, and 10 on the defensive line. Pees’ defense used a lot of 3-Match principles, and Oliver was savvy when passing and receiving routes into his zone.
Oliver is capable when handling man coverage responsibilities. Despite the injury he sustained in 2021, he looked spry and fluid defending space and did a solid job flipping his hips and carrying routes vertically. Oliver would be added to the Giants for competition in the slot, and as a Big Nickel, and not as a guaranteed starter
Cor’Dale Flott’s future may reside outside or in the slot, which is yet to be determined, but the projected slot starter for Martindale’s defense is Darnay Holmes, who is entering the last year of his rookiw contract. New York will likely invest in their secondary through the 2023 NFL Draft, but adding a young veteran like Oliver doesn’t preclude the Giants from doing so.
Oliver is coming off his best season as a professional. His ability to time his click and close has led to 28 passes defended through 1,611 coverage snaps. The primary reason why Oliver should be entertained is contractual - Oliver will likely not command much money on the open market.
He’s now one year removed from the torn ACL, and he looked capable in his 349 snaps last season. Isaiah Oliver would be a low-risk addition who could earn snaps on Martindale’s defense. And, of course, he’s experienced on special teams, so that’s an alternative if he doesn’t earn a starting role.