A detailed look at the cornerback position for the New York Giants and predictions for each player heading into OTAs and training camp.
The New York Giants made a statement this offseason when it came to the defensive back position. After finishing 23rd in the NFL last season with 252.8 passing yards allowed per game, improvement in the secondary was a must.
Now that the NFL Draft is over, undrafted rookie free agents have been signed and minicamp has concluded, the Giants are currently very deep at the cornerback position. In fact, one of the favorites for the starting corner spot at the beginning of this offseason may become their No. 4 corner.
There’s going to be a big competition for the corner spots going into OTAs and eventually training camp. That being said, here’s a look at all the guys up for the eventual starting spots.
Janoris Jenkins started all 16 games for Big Blue in 2018 as their No. 1 guy at the cornerback position. Along with former Giants safety Landon Collins, Jenkins was a bright spot in the secondary. He posted an above-average Pro Football Focus grade of 68.0. Jenkins also racked up 70 combined tackles, two interceptions, and 15 pass-breakups.
Jenkins has two years left on his current contract with the Giants. He previously signed a five-year deal worth $62.5 million prior to the 2016 season. In many fans’ opinions, there’s no corner on the roster that’s as talented and reliable as Jenkins right now. There’s no other guy that can be trusted as much as Jenkins can at this point to cover opponents’ No. 1 receiver.
Prediction: Jenkins retains his spot as the No. 1 corner for this Giants defense.
Sam Beal was drafted in the third round of the NFL Supplemental Draft by the Giants in 2018 out of Western Michigan University. Coming out of college, Beal was looking to compete with guys such as former Giants corners Eli Apple and B.W. Webb for that second corner spot behind Jenkins. However, Beal suffered a season-ending shoulder injury at the beginning of training camp.
This offseason, Beal was one of the early favorites to take over the weak-side corner spot, however, now things have gotten interesting with that position. After the Giants selected defensive backs DeAndre Baker (first round, No. 30 overall) and Julian Love (fourth round, No. 108 overall), Beal now has more to prove to coaches. Beal could very well become the fourth corner on the roster if his showing isn’t up to standards in OTAs and in camp.
Prediction: No. 3 corner, possibly in-and-out of the slot corner position.
The Giants originally had one selection in the first round of the 2019 draft at No. 6 overall. That’s until they got another first-round pick at No. 17 overall due to the trade of receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Then, on draft night, the Giants got their third first-round selection (No. 30) when they traded three of their picks to the Seattle Seahawks.
With that No. 30 overall pick, the Giants took cornerback DeAndre Baker out of the University of Georgia. Baker won the Jim Thorpe Award in 2018 for the best defensive back in the nation. He also received Consensus All-American honors that same season. All-in-all, if the Giants gave up three picks to trade back into the first round to get him, they like what they see and want him to play a lot right away.
In 12 games for the Bulldogs in 2018, Baker racked up 40 tackles, two interceptions, and nine pass breakups. He’s an aggressive asset to have in the secondary and is also a fantastic cover-corner. Baker only gave up one touchdown in his entire college career, which encompassed appearances in 36 total games.
The Giants got a great corner with that No. 30 pick, and he’ll absolutely be of great importance to this Big Blue secondary.
Prediction: No. 2-3 cornerback. Without a doubt will have an opportunity to crack the starting lineup.
The Giants selected Notre Dame cornerback Julian Love with the No. 108 overall pick in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Love had a great college career for the Irish, as he finished the 2018 season as a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award. In his final season in South Bend, Love totaled 63 combined tackles, one interception, 16 pass breakups, one forced fumble, and three fumble recoveries in 13 games. Needless to say, Love has the ability to put up an impressive stat line
The Giants moved Love around in the secondary at this past weekend’s minicamp. He could definitely play the safety spot as well as corner for Big Blue.
Julian Love: I moved around quite a bit yesterday. I’ll play wherever they need me to. I want to be able to do it all. I’m ready.
— New York Giants (@Giants) May 4, 2019
Love will absolutely play a good amount for the Giants in 2019 and could possibly play at the slot corner and nickel back safety positions.
Prediction: No. 3-4 corner, could eventually be safety Antoine Bethea‘s successor.
Grant Haley was an undrafted free agent who signed with the Giants prior to the 2018 season out of Penn State University. Having appeared in 10 games for the Giants last year (and starting in nine), Haley racked up 33 combined tackles and two pass breakups.
Haley played a great amount for the Giants at the slot corner position but now will have to compete against the likes of Baker, Love, and Beal. That being said, his playing time may decrease and he may become more of a special teams weapon.
Prediction: Will make team for the second season, mostly competing for slot corner spot. If not, will be a special teams asset.
Corey Ballentine was recently selected by the Giants in the sixth round of the NFL Draft out of Washburn University. The night he was drafted, Ballentine was involved in a shooting that wounded him and killed teammate Dwane Simmons. As a result, the Giants encouraged Ballentine to skip the rookie minicamp and spend time with his family and rest up.
When Ballentine arrives (it’s still unclear when), he’ll have good competition on his hands with guys such as Love, Baker, and Beal. This past year for Washburn, Ballentine combined for 50 total tackles with 3 interceptions, four pass breakups, and two forced fumbles. He’ll be a good asset to have on this defense, as he proved to be an aggressive cover-corner in college.
Prediction: Will make team and play mostly special teams for his rookie season.
Antonio Hamilton signed a one-year deal with the Giants back in March of this year. In 13 games for the Giants in 2018, Hamilton racked up six combined tackles, working mostly as a special teams weapon. Hamtilon eventually suffered a season-ending quad injury in a week 15 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Free agent DB Antonio Hamilton has agreed with the #Giants to return on a 1-year contract, source said.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 14, 2019
Hamilton didn’t play much on defense last season, and unless he puts on an absolute show in camp, he won’t this upcoming season either. However, he was arguably one of the top guys on the Giants special teams unit in 2018.
Prediction: Makes team, plays mostly special teams throughout 2019.
Ronald Zamort signed a two-year, $1.08 million deal with the Giants this offseason. He previously did a few stints with the Arizona Cardinals from 2016-2017, having been cut and re-signed to their practice squad numerous times. His defensive coordinator in Arizona was, yes, current Giants coordinator James Bettcher.
Zamort currently has no stats to show for in his NFL career. If they were to cut Zamort before the season, he would only carry a cap hit of $495,000.
Prediction: Practice squad or cut before the regular season.
Henre’ Toliver previously played college ball at the University of Arkansas. As far as pro football is concerned, Toliver previously spent time with the Indianapolis Colts and in the now-ceased Alliance of American Football. The Giants signed Toliver in April of this year.
At Arkansas, Toliver started in 36 games, racking up eight interceptions and 31 pass breakups. He’ll surely have a lot on his hands when having to compete against the other ten guys on this list. However, it’s only May, so it’s tough to tell at this point how it’ll end up for the young defensive back.
Prediction: Practice squad, reserve corner or cut.
Tony Lippett previously spent time with the Miami Dolphins in 2015 and 2016. During the 2016 season, Lippett appeared in 16 games, totaling 67 combined tackles with four interceptions and 10 pass breakups. In his one season for the Giants in 2018, Lippett only appeared in three games, racking up just one tackle.
Lippett signed a one-year, $810,000 deal to return to the Giants this offseason. However, he’ll be in the same boat as guys such as Toliver and Zamort. They’ll need to put on great showings in order to just make the final squad once the regular season rolls around. However, Lippett does have a chance to showcase his talents when it comes to the Giants’ special teams unit.
Prediction: Special teams asset or cut.
Tenny Adewusi was invited to the Giants’ rookie minicamp as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Delaware. He racked up 38 total tackles, one forced fumble and seven pass breakups for the Blue Hens in 2018.
After putting on a good showing at minicamp this past weekend, the Giants decided to sign Adewusi. Next step for the young cornerback is to impress coaches at OTAs and eventually training camp.
Looking at the film of Adewusi, you can definitely notice right away that he’s a good cover-corner but can also come up and take on the ball-carrier when needed. He’s aggressive, which is definitely an attractive asset when evaluating a pro-style cornerback.
However, at the end of the day, he’s still an undrafted free agent. He’s got a lot of ground to cover and a great number of people to impress if he wants a chance to make it past the final cuts.