EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 29: Deandre Baker #27 of the New York Giants reacts during their game against the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium on September 29, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart still believes in his former player, New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker, after a rough rookie campaign.

Over a year ago (crazy how time flies), the New York Giants took it upon themselves to give up three picks to the Seattle Seahawks in order to trade back into the first round of the 2019 draft. And with the received No. 30 overall pick, Big Blue selected Georgia cornerback DeAndre Baker, the 2018 winner of the Jim Thorpe Award for college football’s top defensive back.

Big Blue threw Baker into the starting lineup early on (Week 2), but the former Bulldog wasn’t a great match for the speed of the game. He ultimately allowed quarterbacks to complete 61.4% of throws for 850 yards and six touchdowns when targeting him.

The team and its fans are hoping Baker will improve in year No. 2 after a rough rookie campaign, and one individual who certainly sees that as a possibility is DeAndre’s college head coach.

“I’ll say this, there’s not many rookie corners that aren’t going to struggle in that league,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart told Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “It’s not like they’re giving out Rookie of the Year to corners real often. Because when you’re doing your job, you don’t get a lot of credit, and when you’re not doing your job, you’re a sieve. So it’s usually going to go to a pass rusher or a linebacker who can put great statistics up there.

“When you’re on the back end you’re the last line of defense so that’s what everybody sees. Those three corners who were picked [in the 2020 first round], they’ll probably be the same way. They’re going to be under the limelight a lot more. I know DeAndre will get better and he’ll keep working at it.”

The 22-year-old is slated to perform in a starting role again this upcoming season but will need to show significant improvement among a relatively young defensive back unit. The oldest starter is set to be 26-year-old cornerback James Bradberry. The Giants signed the now-former Carolina Panther to a three-year, $43.5 million deal this offseason.

The Giants secondary finished 28th in the league last year with 264.1 passing yards allowed per game. It’s a mark New York mustn’t repeat in 2020 if it wants to return to the postseason for the first time since 2016.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.