EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 15: Albert Wilson #15 of the Miami Dolphins carries the ball as Julian Love #24 of the New York Giants defends in the second quarter at MetLife Stadium on December 15, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Julian Love impressed in the backend of last season and will likely have an expanded role with the New York Giants in 2020.

Through the first 11 weeks (10 games) of the 2019 campaign, Julian Love was sort of a mystery. The then-rookie defensive back notched just three total defensive snaps for the New York Giants during that span, learning behind a safety tandem that included the young and versatile Jabrill Peppers along with veteran Antoine Bethea.

But once Peppers went down with a transverse process fracture in the Week 12 loss to Chicago, Love was the so-called “next man up,” stepping in and starting the final five games of the year. He certainly impressed, having finished with 35 combined tackles, one interception, and a trio of pass breakups, which is why Pro Football Focus recently named him the team’s most underrated player.

Love was actually drafted as a corner but fielded as a safety once he entered the NFL, proving the young player possesses the versatility that new head coach Joe Judge will likely appreciate.

Julian could’ve been the starting free safety in 2020 alongside Peppers, but that was until the Giants drafted Alabama’s Xavier McKinney in this year’s second round. Love will now compete to be the starting slot corner or possibly earn significant time on the outside amid the uncertainty of DeAndre Baker’s situation.

But regardless of where he ends up playing, he’ll be part of a secondary the Giants have taken strides to improve this offseason. Along with the selection of McKinney, Big Blue additionally signed veteran cornerback James Bradberry to a three-year deal.

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