Julian Love was sort of a mystery for the majority of his rookie season, but the New York Giants should keep their eyes on him in 2020.
“Where is Julian Love?” “What’s going on with Julian Love?”
The aforementioned pair of questions were fair to ask through the first 11 weeks of the 2019 season. The then-rookie defensive back, who the New York Giants chose in the fourth round of the 2019 draft, earned just three defensive snaps throughout that time span, causing fans to wonder if the coaching staff truly believed in him or if he was even ready to see significant playing time.
Nonetheless, when strong safety Jabrill Peppers went down with a transverse process fracture in the Week 12 loss to Chicago (and thus missed the remainder of the year), everything changed. Love went from a mystery to a starter at the snap of a finger, something that could happen at any moment to any backup in this league.
But with Peppers now healthy and rookie safety Xavier McKinney now a part of the ballclub heading into the 2020 season, Love will take his talents to what should be a widespread position battle at slot corner.
And in all honesty, this coaching staff should heavily consider Love for the job.
Why? Well for one, this organization has already witnessed Love portray the ability to perform in a significant role on the defensive side of the ball. Throughout those five starts to close out the Giants’ four-win 2019 campaign, Love combined for 34 total tackles, five tackles for loss, a forced fumble, along with a pair of pass breakups.
He’s truly capable of stepping up, and if the Giants were to not reward him some sort of starting role in 2020, they’d be heading in the wrong direction in regards to his overall development. More on-field experience for Love will lead to more efficient and effective growth, and the Giants must keep that notion in mind with the regular season creeping closer.
Love shouldn’t experience many issues transferring his skills from strong safety to slot corner either. Versatility is absolutely existent within his playstyle, as he was able to perform well at the cornerback spot in college — was a consensus All-American for Notre Dame in 2018 — and still succeed more towards the middle of the defensive backfield in the pros.
Throwing the 22-year-old back to cornerback shouldn’t come with a notable number of difficulties whatsoever. He’s intelligent enough to efficiently make the switch and will be able to do so later this summer.
Love also seems to be a more reliable option for the slot corner position than any of the other individuals who’ll be competing for that specific role. Fans have witnessed first-hand how Grant Haley and Corey Ballentine can both be inconsistent. Sam Beal, on the other hand, needs to worry about staying healthy before anything else. Since the Giants selected him in the 2018 supplemental draft, he’s played in just six out of a possible 32 games.
The other pair of competitors going up against Love will be rookies Chris Williamson and Darnay Holmes, but Julian will likely have an edge over them anyway. It’d be a longshot for either of the two aforementioned first-year players to start right away, especially considering neither of them experienced a normal offseason ahead of their respective rookie campaigns.
And lastly, Love possesses arguably the most important trait for this very position: physicality. He’s able to come up from the secondary and make contact with the ball carrier, having averaged nearly seven combined tackles per start last year. During his final two seasons with the Fighting Irish (2017 sophomore campaign and 2018 junior campaign), he averaged over five total tackles per contest.
The second-year pro contains the skills — both mentally and physically — to switch to slot corner and thrive in 2020 and beyond. Big Blue absolutely needs to consider throwing him into that starting role; it would only be necessary to give him as much playing time as possible so he can swiftly grow in this league.