Aaron Robinson holds the key to NY Giants defensive success

Aaron Robinson #33 of the New York Giants (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Aaron Robinson #33 of the New York Giants (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The NY Giants defense is going to look drastically different in 2022, there’s no doubt about that. New defensive coordinator Wink Martindale created a defense in Baltimore which led the league in blitz percentage three of the last four seasons – a category the Giants finished in the bottom half of the league in over the same period.

While the scheme is going to look different, so is the personnel playing in it. The 2022 draft class includes a safety, cornerback, nose tackle, edge rusher and two linebackers – all of whom will be battling for significant playing time this campaign.

There will be a number of positional groups which will field new starters

Perhaps the most interesting unit to follow over the offseason will be cornerback. It is likely, although not yet confirmed, James Bradberry will no longer be on the roster. Along with 2021 free-agent signing Adoree’ Jackson, the pair held down the outside positions for the Giants this past season. Darnay Holmes and Aaron Robinson, who both had limited college experience on the outside, were drafted to play in the slot.

As many expected, a cornerback was selected by the Giants on Day 2 of the draft. The surprise in the pick, however, was that Cordale Flott is a slot corner – a position Joe Schoen has already confirmed he will play for the Giants.

So, with an abundance of slot corners, but nobody with a proven NFL track record on the outside other than Jackson, who will be the Giants CB2 come Week 1?

Aaron Robinson stands out as the most obvious replacement for James Bradberry

The most likely answer is Robinson, a 2021 third-round pick. When Jackson went down with an injury in Week 12 last season, Robinson moved outside to cover his spot. Robinson saw action there throughout the period Jackson was injured, resulting in 149 snaps as a wide cornerback for the campaign.

Robinson showed glimpses during his time on the outside, particularly in the game against the Eagles, which suggests he will transition nicely to more responsibility with the Giants. Of course,  the sample size is very small, particularly in comparison with Bradberry who played almost 1,000 snaps at the position last year.

The glimpses of success are promising considering how little Robinson has played the role, with 80 percent of his college snaps coming from the slot corner spot at UCF. If Martindale is going to implement a similar system to that what brought him so much success in Baltimore, the Giants will need to be comfortable with Robinson’s ability to play “out on an island.”

Martindale’s scheme relies on cornerbacks’ one-on-one ability

Giants fans should be excited about the blitz-heavy, aggressive scheme Martindale is going to implement in New York. With some of the additional pieces added in the draft, it certainly has a chance to be a special unit. A byproduct of the “organized chaos” Martindale creates, however, is that the cornerbacks are often left in man coverage and out on an island.

Even with Jackson there to take the top receiver of opposing teams, Robinson is going to face some extremely talented pass-catchers this season. In the NFC East alone, the likes of Michael Gallup, Jahan Dotson, Curtis Samuel and DeVonta Smith aren’t even the No. 1 receivers on their respective teams.

There are some other less likely options on the roster to replace Bradberry

One other option who deserves a mention is the Giants 2021 sixth-round pick, Rodarius Williams. While Robinson is a better cornerback overall than the Oklahoma State product, Williams did see the large majority of his collegiate snaps with the Cowboys out wide.

He is likely a long shot to be the starting CB2, however. If the Giants do plan to use Flott, Robinson and Holmes, it would be inefficient to do so by rotating all three on the inside. It is more likely the Giants would opt for a combination of Robinson and Williams on the outside, while Flott and Holmes work the inside – a far more effective use of the players currently on the roster.

Final Thoughts

If the Giants are to move on from Bradberry, as is the current expectation, it’d be a surprised if Robinson is not next in line to see outside duties. If that is the case, the success of the defense as a whole in the first year of Martindale’s reign may balance on the ability of Robinson to transition to one of football’s most difficult positions.

Evan Neal had a classic admission about the NY Giants and New Jersey (Video). light. Trending

While he certainly has the talent to do so, whether or not he can put it all together on Sundays in the fall is a whole new question. Giants fans can’t wait to find out.