new york giants
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Amid the uncertainty surrounding DeAndre Baker’s future, Julian Love could have an expanded role with the New York Giants in 2020.

No matter what happens, it’s imperative New York Giants fans don’t sleep on Julian Love this season. The second-year defensive back out of Notre Dame carries a specific level of versatility and intelligence that could make him a force in this Big Blue secondary, regardless of where he plays.

ESPN certainly realizes this as well, as the major sports news outlet has included the young individual on its list of the top 25 players who could break out this upcoming season.

With Love coming in at No. 12, Rivers McCown writes, “One of the youngest players on the list, Love was an easy middle-of-the-field pick for the Giants in the middle rounds of the draft, and one of the few players who showed Dave Gettleman recognizes that the passing game exists. Love essentially didn’t break the lineup until Week 12 but played almost all the Giants snaps from Week 13 to the end of the season. Over that span, we have Love credited with 21 targets into his coverage, of which he allowed just 72 yards and one touchdown. He moved from cornerback to strong safety to replace the injured Jabrill Peppers.”

Love could definitely be the consistent producer the Giants have needed in that defensive backfield. In 2019, the unit finished 28th in the league with an average of 264.1 passing yards allowed per game. This led to them making numerous offseason moves pertaining to that area of the field, including the acquisition of free-agent corner James Bradberry along with the drafting of safety Xavier McKinney in this year’s second round.

So where exactly does Love play in 2020?

Well, there are indeed a number of options. For one, he could still compete to be the starting free safety alongside Jabrill Peppers. McKinney is surely the favorite to win the job, but it’s unclear how he’ll fare in the early stages of his rookie season, especially after not experiencing the normal in-person rookie camp, minicamp, or OTAs that first-year players normally do.

Love may also take part in what’s slated to be a widespread position battle at slot corner. He’d be going up against the likes of Corey Ballentine, Grant Haley, Sam Beal, along with rookies Darnay Holmes and Chris Williamson. The latter two players will undergo a difficult task winning the job due to their inexperience, while Beal will need to worry about just staying on the field (he’s played six out of a possible 32 pro-level games). Ballentine and Haley, on the other hand, were both inconsistent last year, but it should be interesting to witness if the former improves in his sophomore campaign.

And then, there’s the chance Love could become DeAndre Baker’s replacement. Baker, who was slated to start alongside Bradberry, is now on the commissioner’s exempt list amid his charges for armed robbery and aggravated assault. Love could possess the edge over the other options due to his ability to pick up a role in a timely manner, but you never know who could emerge and overly impress during the training camp period.

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