The NY Giants’ defense was among the most improved in the league in 2021, thanks to defensive coordinator Patrick Graham crafting a scheme that maximized whoever was on the field each week, and some marquee additions at all three levels paying dividends.
By season’s end, cornerback James Bradberry and Logan Ryan were among the NY Giants’ most impactful defenders, with Bradberry making his first Pro Bowl and Ryan earning a long-term extension.
Bradberry and Ryan combined for 148 total tackles, one sack, four interceptions, and three forced fumbles. While rookie Darnay Holmes showed moments of promise, and Xavier McKinney‘s strong play in the final three weeks made a case that he might be the Giants‘ breakout player on defense in 2021, this secondary still needs a lot of work.
The Giants currently do not have a proven commodity or player with an outside cornerback profile to pair opposite Bradberry. The organization would be wise to continue adding talent in this area as offenses around the league continue to prioritize marquee receivers and the passing game.
Pro Football Focus offered a less than glowing assessment of the Giants’ cornerbacks in 2020:
"This secondary didn’t have a single cornerback or safety graded within PFF’s top-40 players at their position other than No. 1 CB James Bradberry. Improvement could be used across the board in the reigning below-average secondary in explosive pass-play rate (No. 22) and contested target rate (No. 20)."
If the 2021 season began today, the Giants would likely play McKinney and Jabrill Peppers at safety, Bradberry at cornerback, Ryan at nickel, and perhaps try to shoehorn Holmes or Julian Love at outside cornerback.
That likely won’t cut it in a division with CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper, Terry McLaurin, and Jalen Reagor.
Ahead of the 2021 offseason, the NY Giants have needs along the offensive line, in the front-seven, at wide receiver, and in the secondary that must be filled if this team is going to make significant strides next season.
Here’s a look at five possible targets through free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft that could plug the NY Giants’ holes along the offensive line:
1) William Jackson
The Giants struck gold with Bradberry in free agency last offseason, and now have the opportunity to add one of the game’s rising stars at the position this offseason.
Jackson, 6-foot and 196 pounds, has the frame and the skill-set to be a dominant outside cornerback and happens to be hitting the market after one of the finest seasons of his career.
Quarterbacks managed a pedestrian 86.4 passer rating when targeting him and receivers averaged 14.9 yards per reception as Jackson surrendered catches on just 36 of the 69 times he was targeted, according to PFF.
The 28-year-old is a rising star after producing 46 total tackles, intercepting one pass and breaking up 11 passes in 2020.
A change of scenery, especially into a player-specific system such as Graham’s, might finally unlock Jackson’s full potential and he just might provide an ideal complement on the opposite side of the field from Bradberry.