PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: Darnay Holmes #1 of the UCLA Bruins reacts after breaking up a play against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Rose Bowl on September 1, 2018 in Pasadena, California.
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The New York Giants drafted UCLA cornerback Darnay Holmes in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. What can he truly bring to the team?

Ryan Honey

Depth is always important in the defensive backfield, and the New York Giants surely had that notion in mind during the fourth round of this year’s draft. With the No. 110 overall pick, Big Blue selected Darnay Holmes, a fast and athletic cornerback out of UCLA.

Holmes likely won’t start, as Deandre Baker and James Bradberry are slated to reside in the two corner spots. But as far as the nickel corner position and special teams are concerned, Holmes may be a name to consider.

Let’s take a look at some of the film from his collegiate career and evaluate the strengths he’ll be able to bring to this franchise.

Film room notes

The following clips are from UCLA’s 2019 victory over Washington State.

On the first play from scrimmage, Holmes shows off his low, athletic, pre-snap stance and the fact that he’s able to have quick feet right off the snap. He’s not the tallest corner, so the athleticism will need to help him out tremendously at the next level.

Holmes can also make the big tackle in the open field by breaking down and wrapping up, as put on display in this next clip.

Holmes is able to swiftly accelerate out of his stance, which is displayed in this clip when the opponent utilizes a quick move right off the snap. Darnay, in man coverage, stays on his hip the entire time.

It’s not just in man coverage where Holmes succeeds though, as he employs above-average vision in order to locate his matchup in zone-coverage scenarios.

He shows much on-field aggression as well. Early in the second quarter, Holmes allows some separation between him and the receiver but then is quick to come up, make contact, and force the incompletion.

Again, he’s not the biggest guy on the field, but that doesn’t mean he can’t shed blocks. On the play below, Washington State lines up in a trips right formation and runs a wide receiver screen to the split end while the Z receiver steps up to block Holmes.

Nonetheless, the defensive back is athletic enough to move past the block, reach the ball carrier, and get in on the tackle.

This next third-quarter play shows a number of beneficial qualities in Holmes’ game.

At first, he displays a great stance while backpedaling, keeping an athletic base while pumping the arms. He’s then able to open up his hips to stay put with the wideout, plant his back foot, and then wrap up and make the tackle when WSU quarterback Anthony Gordon hits the slot receiver over the middle (not Holmes’ assignment).

Conclusion

He has some strengths, don’t get me wrong. Nonetheless, Holmes will certainly need to develop in the pros. He has the athleticism, speed, and instincts to do that, so look for the Giants to make a true investment in him en route to potentially naming him a starter at some point in his career.

The nickel corner role may be a spot for him in 2020. If that’s where the Giants want to work him out, he’ll be competing alongside defensive backs Corey Ballentine, Grant Haley, and potentially Julian Love.

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