NY Giants roster: Projecting the starting defense in 2021

James Bradberry, NY Giants (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
James Bradberry, NY Giants (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /
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NY Giants
New York Giants defensive backs Logan Ryan (23) and James Bradberry (Image via The Record) /

The Secondary (5): James Bradberry, Adoree’ Jackson, Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers, Xavier McKinney

The secondary very well could be the most unique part of this defense due to the extreme versatility it boasts.

Whether it be Jabrill Peppers as a safety/linebacker hybrid, or Logan Ryan and Xavier McKinney with both nickel and safety abilities, the possible defensive alignments are plentiful.

Similar to the defensive line, down, distance and offensive personnel will have an impact on what players trot out onto the field. In the base defense, however, the boundary cornerback positions will most likely be locked down by James Bradberry and Adoree’ Jackson.

Then the dynamic skillsets come into play. Peppers will most likely play as the strong safety with the ability to either drop back into coverage or come down into the box to play the run. Additionally, Ryan and McKinney should have similar, interchangeable, roles. In contrast to Peppers, however, these two can either come up and defend the slot or fall back into coverage.

The final piece of the defense is the center fielder, the deep safety responsible as the last line of defense if the other two move closer to the line of scrimmage. That will presumably be either McKinney or Ryan, whoever does not come up to play the slot.

With the aforementioned five defensive backs on the field, the possible play calls are numerous. From having Peppers come up and play the run or man up a tight end, to Ryan sticking a slot receiver, to having both drop back into coverage and playing cover three with McKinney in the middle, there are so many looks Graham and his defense can throw at opposing offenses. Given the versatility, quarterbacks should have a tough time diagnosing coverages pre-snap.

Other defensive backs who will likely see time on the field in 2021 include Darnay Holmes, Aaron Robinson, Julian Love and Isaac Yiadom, among others. As was stated before, different situations will call for different defensive personnel. While the 11 players listed throughout this article may be tabbed as the “starters,” other defensive players will almost certainly see important roles in their own rights.