2. CB Corey Ballentine
The NY Giants entered 2020 with concerns at the cornerback position and whether there was enough talent to compete with the rest of the NFL’s receivers. These concerns further exacerbated once Sam Beal opted out and Deandre Baker was arrested.
The team felt confident enough in Corey Ballentine to make him the full-time starter for Week 1. He was a promising rookie last season who the Giants felt had a rookie season derailed from the start, after being tragically shot after being selected on Draft Day.
The youngster was thrust into the starting role opposite James Bradberry on Monday. Big Blue’s only moves at cornerback beforehand included making a late-round trade for a depth cornerback, and signing two veterans, albeit not high-caliber players.
Ballentine started the season off struggling mightily all over the field. He had the team’s second-most tackles with nine, but that is widely due to getting several tackles after letting up a reception downfield, or in the run game once the back got to the defenses’ second or third level.
Simply put, Ballentine has to a better job in coverage and sticking with his defenders.
The Steelers converted on 14 first down opportunities. Unacceptably, Ballentine was responsible for seven of the 14 conversions let up on defense. This number is far too high and teams will look at this and lick their chops knowing they can target and harass a team’s cornerback without little disruption or impactful playmaking.
The All-22 tape doesn’t lie as Ballentine showed an ineptitude to stay close to his assigned receivers and was unable to turn his head around, locate the football, and then make a play on the ball. Big Ben was picking Ballentine apart on third downs, which is even more disheartening due to the expectation of a pass on 3rd down.
Ballentine will likely get another shot this week. The Bears have talented receivers in all different shapes, speeds, and sizes. Ballentine will need a rebound game after a tough start to 2020. He needs to do a better job in both man and zone coverage and he needs to be on an island as little as possible this week.
Look for safety over-the-top help and some help in the flats to make life easier for Corey. If he can’t make the proper adjustments in Week 2, there are many young and hungry players in the NY secondary waiting to steal Corey’s reps. He is still very much a developmental player.
There’s a reason he played football at Division II’s Washburn University, he has much room for improvement and learning as he continues his NFL experience. He is a replaceable player at this point as he hasn’t shown much one game into his second season in the NFL.
If he can’t get the job done this week, expect them to scour the free-agent market and perhaps sign a veteran like Prince Amukamara.