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Should we be worried about the Giants CB room?

How big of a need will the position be this offseason?

Washington Commanders v New York Giants Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images

The New York Giants traded up one slot in the 2023 NFL Draft to ensure the selection of Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks. A euphoric Wink Martindale embraced Joe Schoen on draft night, less than one year before the corrosion between the defensive coordinator and the team.

Still, the Giants now have an effective young player on their roster for possibly five years. However, the future of the Giants' cornerback room is not dubious, and it remains one of the many positions due for help in the 2024 offseason.

2023 in review

The roster

Deonte Banks, Adoree Jackson, Cor’Dale Flott, Darnay Holmes, Nick McCloud, Tre Hawkins III, Aaron Robinson

The plan to start the two rookies outside, with the veteran Adoree’ Jackson in the slot, did not last long, as Tre Hawkins III failed to maintain his training camp momentum through the regular season. It was probably unfair, though, for us to assume otherwise; he’s a developmental sixth-round pick out of Old Dominion who possesses traits but was not ready to start in the NFL.

However, Banks did prove worthy, even if there were some bumps along the way. He played 840 defensive snaps for the Giants, recording 56 tackles, two interceptions, six passes defended, and a solid 57.6% reception rate. He did, however, commit 8 penalties, which was the 13th-highest of all cornerbacks, and he missed the final two games of the season. He also played the fifth-most snaps on the Giants’ defense.

He displayed the necessary athletic traits to thrive in man coverage, which comes as no surprise after watching his Maryland tape, and he had a good overall rookie season, by my estimation. He also displayed very good awareness with zone and match principles. I remain high on Banks moving forward.

Adoree’ Jackson played the sixth-most snaps on the defense and did take a step back in play. He allowed a 65.9% reception rate in 2023 - that was 57.8% last season. His yards per reception was higher, his passer rating allowed was higher, and he had a higher missed tackle rate, for what that is worth.

Jackson recorded 63 tackles; 49 were solo, with eight passes defended, one forced fumble, and one interception for a touchdown on Christmas night against the Eagles. He had several mishaps in high-leverage situations near the end of the season against the Saints and Rams. I still believe he’s a good coverage cornerback, but he’s set to become a free agent and has likely played his last snap as a Giant.

Cor’Dale Flott played 519 snaps on the defense, with 432 of them coming from the slot. He missed the first three weeks of the season with a hamstring injury but returned to the lineup with a few very good games (Miami, New York Jets, Washington 2.0). However, he finished the season in a disappointing manner, with notable missed tackles and a few catches that led to big plays for the opposing offense.

Flott finished the season with a 65.6% catch rate (not terrible for a slot CB). He had five passes defended, 36 tackles, 25 solo tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception against Dallas in Week 10. He’s still just 22 years old, growing into his frame, and should be given a shot to start for whoever takes over the defense next season.

Nick McCloud played less snaps than Tre Hawkins III while being active in three more games. I was a bit puzzled by McCloud only earning 312 snaps at just 25-years old. He impressed during the 2023 season, and he continued to flash on tape this season with no glaring weakness, and he was not a liability, so what gives?

New York tried him at safety during training camp; he received positive buzz, but the Giants rightfully decided on Jason Pinnock, which is no slight to McCloud, who deserved more cornerback snaps early in the season.

The Giants wanted to give Hawkins III and Flott the opportunity to secure their roles into the defense, which came at the expense of McCloud. In retrospect, the former Buffalo Bill may have been neglected. He finished the season with 28 tackles, 20 of them were solo, with three forced fumbles, two passes defended, three fumble recovers, and an intreception. He will be a restricted free agent this offseason.

Darnay Holmes played a career low 123 snaps on defense with 194 snaps on special teams. He was replaced by Flott and finished the year with 18 tackles, 17 solo, one tackle for a loss, one forced fumble, three passes defended, and two interceptions.

2024 outlook

The Giants have serious question marks in the cornerback room. Banks, Flott, and Hawkins are the only three players under contract who played last season. Aaron Robinson is still under contract with one more year left on his deal, but has not seen action since his knee injury against the Bears in Week 4 of the 2022 season. He’s only played 72 snaps since 2021.

Banks is the only one of the four that provides comfort, albeit I am not writing off Flott, but I wouldn’t be eager to enter a season with him as a starter outside opposite of Deonte Banks. Hawkins is just a developmental cornerback.

Adoree’ Jackson and Darnay Holmes are set to hit free agency, and will likely not be retained. Kaleb Hayes and Stantley Thomas-Oliver were signed to future-reserve contracts. The former was a rookie UDFA that signed to the Jacksonville Jaguars out of BYU with a 5-foot-11, 194-pound frame. The latter is a 6-2, 190 pound 2020 seventh-round pick by the Carolina Panthers out of Florida International.

Sub-packages force three, four, or more cornerbacks on the field for much of the game, and the Giants are unproven once we get to that part of their depth chart. I wouldn’t be shocked to see another high draft asset invested in the cornerback position, or maybe a veteran who is familiar with the system that’s installed by the new defensive coordinator.