PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - DECEMBER 09: Wide receiver Greg Ward #84 of the Philadelphia Eagles makes a catch over defensive back Sam Beal #23 of the New York Giants during the game at Lincoln Financial Field on December 09, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

There’s no sugar-coating it. Sam Beal must show up and show out for the New York Giants during his third season in the league.

The supplemental draft. The optimism surrounding the young player. The injuries.

The aforementioned order has been the story of Sam Beal‘s NFL career thus far, with the latter-most stage unfortunately becoming a significant part. After the New York Giants selected him in the third round of the 2018 supplemental draft, the former Western Michigan standout suffered a season-ending shoulder injury prior to his rookie year. He then didn’t see action until Week 10 of his sophomore pro campaign due to a lingering hamstring setback.

So out of a possible 32 games, Beal has taken part in just six. What was once an individual who some believed would be a productive player down the road has become a mystery in the middle area of the depth chart.

He may have not done the necessary amount in those six games for the Giants to immediately start him in 2020. But regardless, he’s indeed talented, and fans will be looking to see how he fares in his third season in the league.

What weakness does he need to improve?

I understand the six-game spread is an underwhelming sample size, but just looking at that span, it’s clear Beal needs to develop into a better cover corner. That’ll be the case whether he’s working on the outside or in the slot.

Opposing quarterbacks threw his way 21 times last year, with 16 of those passes reaching the grasp of the receiver for a 76.2% completion rate. Among those completions, 171 yards were gained through the air with one touchdown scored. Beal additionally allowed an 8.1 yards-per-target rate and a total quarterback rating of 115.4.

He’s physical and could use that specific quality to succeed in the defensive backfield. But the No. 1 trait required when performing in that area is the ability to succeed in coverage. Beal absolutely needs to hone his skills in those regards if he wishes to catch the eyes of this mostly new coaching staff, which encompasses newly hired defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and newly hired defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson.

What strength does he need to continue building?

As was said before, Beal is a physical corner and has proven it on the field. During his abbreviated 2019 season, he racked up a total of 26 combined tackles (4.33 per game) with 20 solo tackles and an impressive 0% missed tackle percentage. This strength will surely help him out in the slated widespread position battles in the secondary.

Beal was also capable of flaunting this ability when the Giants asked the most of him. Eleven of those combined tackles were recorded in the Week 15 win over Miami when he started and played in 100% of the defensive snaps. Seven more came in the Week 14 loss to Philly, another game he started.

The stats are impressive and especially so when you take into consideration the zero missed tackles. But if he wants to succeed in this league for a long period of time, he’ll need to bring this level of talent to the field on a consistent basis.

Will he earn significant playing time in 2020?

Beal will likely see some action at special teams. But when it comes to the defensive backfield, he’ll need to show up and show out early on in order to surpass the likes of Corey Ballentine, Grant Haley, and Julian Love on the depth chart.

Each of the aforementioned names will compete to be DeAndre Baker’s replacement, as the young player was just placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt list amid his armed robbery and aggravated assault case. Beal will definitely show a level of competitiveness, but I believe the job will ultimately go to Love, who carries the versatility and intelligence to be able to take his talents to that spot and learn the role in a timely manner.

So with that said, Beal could compete at slot corner. He definitely sports the physicality and tackling abilities in order to perform well in a spot that requires those specific qualities, which would give him an edge over both Ballentine and Haley. The pair of aforementioned individuals additionally displayed inconsistencies from this position last year, so if that continues, expect Beal to swiftly climb the depth chart.

So yes, I do believe Beal will earn significant playing time on this defense and in the starting lineup. It may not be initially considering Ballentine and Haley have more pro-level experience, but down the road, the Giants will realize the potential Beal possesses and provide him with more opportunities to portray his talents.

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