sam beal giants
(Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

New York Giants fans have yet to see much of Sam Beal, and may not even be able to until the 2021 season or potentially beyond.

He was projected by some to be a first-round selection in 2019, so when the New York Giants acquired Sam Beal in the 2018 supplemental draft, excitement brewed in East Rutherford. This was someone Big Blue would eventually need in order to improve its inconsistent defensive backfield, a secondary that, at this point, hasn’t been all too successful in quite some time.

Beal wasn’t likely to be a starter initially. Nonetheless, the future was bright for the young cornerback out of Western Michigan University.

But over two years later, we’ve only seen six total games out of Beal ahead of a 2020 campaign in which he’s opted out amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. The 23-year-old has undergone an unusual and injury-filled commencement to his pro career, and what his future currently entails is certainly unclear to all of us.

Think about it: he’s missed 26 games and will, at this point in time, play zero during the course of the 2020 campaign. So that means by the end of 2021 — what was supposed to be his fourth season in the league — he will have performed in a maximum of 22 regular-season contests.

Regardless of why Beal has missed or is missing games (whether it’s the past injury-related issues or the opt-out), it’s amazing to think how much we haven’t seen of the young kid.

And when he does (hopefully) return after the 2020 season, what will fans be able to expect of his on-field play? How will the Giants use him?

When the 2021 campaign rolls around (assuming Beal will return), my guess is he’ll be rusty from sitting out the year prior. He’ll be in shape considering these guys work tirelessly to stay fit all year round, but you can’t tell me his on-field skills won’t need to be honed once again.

This will give him an undeniable disadvantage in any sort of position battle within this Giants defensive backfield, regardless of who’s around at that point and who’s ascended or descended the depth chart.

His future role may additionally be decided by how the secondary fares in 2020. The Giants are expected to sign cornerback Ross Cockrell, a guy who played alongside the team’s new No. 1 corner, James Bradberry, in Carolina last year. Thus, the chemistry and connection between the two are already existent for the most part.

But it’s impossible to predict how it’ll all turn out for Big Blue when it comes to that area of the field. What if the (potential) Cockrell experiment fails and the Giants need someone new to perform alongside Bradberry in 2021? What if it turns out to be a great move by Dave Gettleman and the Giants are set with their starting cornerback tandem, at least for a few years?

And then there’s the DeAndre Baker situation. What if the 22-year-old corner ends up innocent of his armed robbery charges and actually finds himself back with the team and ahead of Beal on the depth chart?

The outcomes of the aforementioned situations involving Cockrell and Baker are currently unknown. The same goes for Beal’s ultimate future in both East Rutherford and in the NFL in general, as we simply don’t possess enough information on him. Six games over a span of two years is a small sample size, and it’ll be a while before we gain the appropriate amount of insight in order to understand what he can truly bring to the table.

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