Typically in the NFL, a player makes their biggest stride from year one to year two. This is one of the reasons why the New York Giants are expecting big things from their second-year cornerback Eli Apple.
Eli Apple had a solid rookie season recording 41 tackles defended seven passes and had one interception. But he did struggle when matched up against top tier wide receivers on passes down the field especially in the Giants Wildcard loss to the Green Bay Packers. In addition, the Giants did not feel comfortable with him playing in the slot corner.
There are similarities with Apple and Collins. They were both champions and college and were drafted by the Giants to be the new core of the defense for years to come.
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Just like Apple, Collins had a solid rookie campaign in 2015 recording 112 tackles and one interception. But from time to time he did struggle in his pass coverage and dropped a crucial interception against the New England Patriots.
Collins worked hard in the offseason and emerged as arguably the best strong safety in the league last season. He led the Giants in tackles with 125, had five interceptions and was named First Team All-Pro, and earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl. Many felt he should have also been named Defensive Player Of The Year.
It might seem a tall task for Apple to accomplish similar feats this season, especially since he’s playing alongside two great corners in Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. But when you draft a player in the first round especially a top 10 pick which Apple was, you expect for him to be a star.
When you factor in that Rodgers-Cromartie will be 32 next season and entering the final year of his contract, the Giants are literally banking on Apple to show that he’s ready to be an elite corner since it’s unlikely DRC will be with Big Blue after 2018.
So will Eli Apple make a huge leap in his second season the same way Collins did? We’ll begin to find out on Jul. 28 when the Giants report to training camp.