Last preseason, the cornerback group was considered one of the New York Giants’ strongest units. This year, though, it is one of their weakest.
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That’s not to say the starting tandem is bad, though. Entering his fifth year in the NFL, Amukamara is now in a position to become a leader of a defensive backfield currently devoid of one. He has gotten better every year, and I think he was in the midst of a Pro-Bowl caliber season before he tore his bicep.
Rodgers-Cromartie is spotty at times, but he’s where he needs to be more often than not. Sometimes he gets in trouble trying to bait quarterbacks into making throws, and he sometimes gives less than 100 percent, which has led some people to say ‘DRC’ stands for ‘Doesn’t Really Care.’
He also dropped some interceptions last year, so maybe it stands for ‘Doesn’t Really Catch.’ Regardless, though, DRC was paid like a top corner by the Giants, and he did all they asked him to do.
Amukamara and Rodgers-Cromartie re probably the best cornerback duo in the NFC East, but the lack of depth behind them is a bit alarming.
Trumaine McBride is probably the only other corner who is guaranteed a spot on the final roster. McBride missed 10 games last year due to injuries, but he’s a reliable player in the slot. Although undersized at 5’9″ (McBride is actually the shortest player on the Giants roster), he plays with swagger and intensity.
The only issue, though, is when Amukamara or Rodgers-Cromartie goes down with an injury, and McBride is forced into the starting lineup. McBride did start 10 games for the Giants in 2013, but a scenario in which he’s alone on the outside with guys like Dez Bryant or Julio Jones isn’t ideal.
Hosley, taken in the third round of the 2012 draft, has been a major disappointment, and it wouldn’t shock me to see him fail to make the final 53-man roster.
Fenner has good size at 6-1, be he remains unproven. Harris saw some action during the latter half of 2014, and he even recorded an interception against the Eagles in Week 17. Although listed at cornerback, Brown could very well make the transition to safety, much like Bennett Jackson.
Gordy was signed from Indianapolis in the offseason, but he’s only started 11 games in his five-year career, including only two starts since 2011.
So the Giants have two starting cornerbacks, a solid slot guy, and a myriad of question marks. If Amukamara misses time – he’s only played a whole 16 games once — who steps in? If Rodgers-Cromartie misses time – he played with injuries last year – then what happens to the unit?
Nov 3, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiverT.Y. Hilton
(13) stiff-arms New York Giants corner backJayron Hosley
(28) after a catch during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
A worst-case scenario would have to be Amukamara, Rodgers-Cromartie and McBride all missing time simultaneously, and it seems like the Giants are ill-prepared for that situation.
It’s a scenario that could have been remedied by drafting Michigan State’s Trae Waynes, but that’s neither here nor there.
With the early stages of free agency and the draft now being completed, it’s not going to be easy for the Giants to bolster their cornerback unit, but it’s certainly not impossible either.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport (via Twitter) on Monday that the New England Patriots released cornerback Kyle Arrington, and the former Pat would be an improvement for the Giants. Arrington has started 52 games in his seven-year career, although he would see most of his action in the slot if the Giants did decide to sign him.
Arrington would also provide the Giants with an experienced player who can come in and start if necessary.
Beyond Arrington, though, the cornerback market is anything but stellar. Tarell Brown is still a free agent, but he might be asking for more money than the Giants are willing to pay for a backup cornerback. Former Giant Aaron Ross is also in the open market. Ross played in Spagnuolo’s defense before, but his history with injuries and age (32) are probably too concerning for the Giants to facilitate a reunion.
Spagnuolo has had success in the past with less-than stellar cornerback units, but with the NFL being a pass-first league, it will be interesting to see how Spags adjusts his defense. Corey Webster, Sam Madison, R.W. McQuarters and Ross were the cornerback unit in 2007 and 2008.
If the Giants are able to generate a strong pass rush, the cornerbacks’ job should be easier, but the lack of depth is still a major concern.
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