Following the Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl 48 victory, Walter Thurmond III became an unrestricted free agent and was free to sign wherever he saw fit.
The New York Giants would end up signing Thurmond to a one-year deal as part of their revamped secondary. Thurmond was expected to be the lead slot corner and contribute early and often.
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However, Thurmond’s 2014 was cut short when he suffered a torn pectoral muscle in week 2. Despite the injury sustained by Thurmond, the Giants need to make sure they are able to bring back the 27-year-old corner.
For starters, Thurmond is the ideal player to play in the slot for the Giants. He has sufficient size – 5’11” – to match up with most receivers who have relegated to the slot, and he’s a very aggressive player. He has no problem coming up and making a tackle, although he doesn’t always wrap up. Regardless, finding a good tackling cornerback is not an easy task. He’s the Giants’ best tackling cornerback not named Prince Amukamara.
Another asset Thurmond has is his versatility. While not a “lockdown” man-to-man corner like guys like Darrelle Revis, Thurmond’s array of abilities are invaluable to the Giants’ defense.
There obviously isn’t a whole lot of film to evaluate, considering Thurmond played in about one and a half regular-season games, but it seemed like the Giants had an idea of how they can get the most out of Thurmond.
In week 1’s matchup against Detroit, while mostly operating in a cover 2, Thurmond was also used outside on some snaps. For the most part, Thurmond was able to keep his former teammate Golden Tate in check. On same plays while in the slot or parallel with the linebackers, Thurmond’s first movement would be to step up and look for a run before dropping back.
This would indicate the Giants’ comfort in using Thurmond as an extra run-stopper.
Thurmond was essentially used all over the field in his brief 2014 campaign. The Giants often had him show blitz, only for him to back out of it at the last minute and drop into coverage. Sometimes he would line up closer to the safeties, sometimes he would line up in the slot and sometimes he would simply lineup in tight man coverage.
One particular play against the Arizona Cardinals stands out and showcases Thurmond’s unique talents. Thurmond lined up as if he was coming on a blitz, backed out of it at the last second, read the play perfectly and came up and made a solo tackle on Larry Fitzgerald.
Although Perry Fewell is no longer with the Giants, new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo should have a field day with Thurmond, provided the Giants re-sign him. Thurmond would likely be frequently used in Spagnuolo’s blitz-heavy defense.
Swagger is another trait Thurmond has, and it’s a trait he almost certainly gained during his time with the Legion of Boom. Thurmond is a fiery, tenacious player that could help bring some life to the Giants defense. Thurmond infamously told the media that he thought of himself as the “best slot corner in the league.” It’s always a good thing when a a player has confidence, especially when that player is a cornerback.
Re-signing Thurmond is a risk, though, as he’s proven he can’t be entirely relied upon to stay healthy. However, it’s a risk the Giants should absolutely take. What Thurmond can add to the Spagnuolo-led defense should be more than enough to keep him in New York/New Jersey.
Thurmond has also expressed some interest in returning to the Giants.
“I have thought about [returning to the Giants],” Thurmond said in November, via NJ.com. “My main priority at the moment is to rehab and everything like that and once it becomes March, it will be a better time to decide and really contemplate me re-signing with the team. There’s a whole process that needs to come down with that situation, but I wouldn’t mind being back with Big Blue.”
Retaining defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and improving the offensive line remain as the two main priorities for Big Blue, but the Giants would be wise to make sure Thurmond returns for the 2015 season. A group consisting of Prince Amukamra, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Trumaine McBride and Thurmond would give the Giants a lot more flexibility on defense.
Regardless of where the Giants want to put Thurmond, you can never have too many corners.
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