With three above average cornerbacks on the roster, the New York Giants will overmatch many receivers next season.
Those three cornerbacks are all great players — but they all play different styles. That allows them to compliment each other and create a more diverse defense.
Jenkins is the player that the Giants will put on the top wide receiver, a position where he performed above average last season. He’s also the big playmaker of the team, with five career interceptions returned for touchdowns.
He has a rare ability to jump routes and make plays on the ball. He takes risks once in a while but he has great hands and a rare instinct for when to jump said routes. His risk taking can lead to the occasional big play, although he did a great job of cutting down on that last season.
A team can’t have every cornerback as a risk taker. They’ll give up way too many big plays, which can’t happen. Luckily for the Giants, Jenkins is the only corner that takes risks, and even he’s gotten better at recognizing when those risks are acceptable to take.
That being said, he’s still the big ball-hawking cornerback. Apple — who plays across the field from him — has a different style.
Apple is still learning the differences between covering in college and covering in the NFL. This is normal for a cornerback. Apple’s quarterback rating against was 92.6, which is not very good. However, it isn’t unusual for rookies to struggle at cornerback. Darrelle Revis had a rookie year QBR against of 87.5.
This isn’t to say Apple will be as good as Revis was. However, even the best cornerbacks struggle as rookies.
Apple is different from Jackrabbit in how he plays. He only collected four INTs in his two seasons in college. He’s not a huge route jumper. His strength comes from swatting passes, which won’t result in many interceptions — but it is less risky.
Apple’s approach of making the safe play by defending passes compliments Jenkins’ ball-hawking, and at times, risky style of play. Having two corners who play different styles of pass coverage makes the quarterback make different types of throws to the receivers. Putting that in the quarterback’s mind can make him play a split second slower. That can create more mistakes.
DRC is the third piece of the puzzle. He’s entering his 10th seasons in the league and is the veteran of the unit. He’s become the slot corner, partially because he has the ability to play that position and partially because it gives him occasional rest (he’s the only one of the three over 30).
He has 30 interceptions over his nine years in the league, although he has two seasons with more than three interceptions (last year being one of them, when he tied his career high in interceptions with six).
He’s the most physical of the three corners. He’s a great bump and run corner and he’s a very good tackler. His ability to make plays against the run allows the Giants to leave him in as the third corner on more plays.
He’s struck a nice balance between ball hawking and just breaking up plays. His veteran presence also helps in the film room and on the field dissecting plays.
The three cornerbacks all have different strengths, which means that they can’t be attacked the same way. Those differences make the Giants cornerbacks better overall — perhaps the best in the league.