The NY Giants have invested a lot into their secondary and they need one of those young pups to step up and be a true playmaker.
It should surprise no one that the NY Giants used six of their 10 draft picks in 2020 on defensive players. Even after using seven of their 10 draft picks in 2019 on defense, and trading one of their best offensive weapons for two picks and safety Jabrill Peppers, the Giants’ defense still lacks an identity.
Over the past five years, the NY Giants’ defense has ranked at the top of the NFC East for the wrong stats while ranking at the bottom for the good. In fact, the Giants have given up more passing yards per game for three out of the past five seasons, according to data from NFL.com.
The most recent of those unfortunate seasons was in 2019. The NY Giants gave up on average 264.1 pass yards per game, according to data from NFL.com. That is the third-highest total in the NFC East in the past five years, behind Philadelphia Eagles in 2018 (269.3) and the Giants in 2015 (298.9).
Lack of interceptions does not help. The Giants had 10 interceptions in 2019, ahead only of the Dallas Cowboys’ seven interceptions in the NFC East. That total and their 64 pass deflections were the lowest for the Giants in the past five years, according to data from NFL.com.
Arial Assault Continues Despite Attention
To improve this porous secondary the Giants drafted three defensive backs in the 2019 draft: DeAndre Baker in round one, Julian Love in round four, and Corey Ballentine in round six.
Including his current offseason, Baker has underwhelmed. He was the only defensive back selected in 2019 to play in all 16 games. But he also gave up more passing yards than any other Giants player, according to profootballreference.com.
No other Giants player was targeted more than Baker, according to profootballreference.com, who was targeted 88 times. And only one player gave up more TDs than did Baker, who allowed six. Baker also missed 9% of his tackles.
Ballentine played in 13 games, starting in two of them, racking up one QB knockdown and one pressure on seven blitzes. Love started in five games and saw action in 15. He too is credited with one QB knockdown and one pressure on five blitzes and even hauled in an interception. But Love was responsible for a touchdown in his limited field time, while Ballentine let up four, according to profootballreference.com.
With the uncertainty of Baker, 2019’s numbers suggest Love could become the best back picked from 2019. But Love has his work cut out for him if he expects to see more playing time; Second-round pick from 2020’s draft, Xavier McKinney, should be an improvement from the whole lot.
McKinney Slated for Spotlight
The secondary continues to hurt the Giants chances of competing in the NFC East. The hope for fans, one thinks, is that one of the six defensive players drafted in 2020 will become the playmaker the NY Giants desperately need.
Xavier Mckinney is so highly thought of that Las Vegas oddsmakers are giving him some of the best odds to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The NY Giants found a Pro Bowler in Landon Collins the last time they picked a safety from Alabama in the second round. Since his departure, the Giants defense has no playmaker for opposing offensive coordinators to make a game plan around. McKinney has high expectations, but if he lives up to them, he could become the face of the Giants defense.