Cornerback Depth Is A Major Weakness for The Giants

The offensive line may not be the New York Giants’ biggest weak spot after all

Eli Chevalier

Although most people are pointing out the offensive line as a point of weakness for the Giants, the team’s lack of cornerback depth may be what eventually sinks them. It’s kind of an irony, too. Whereas the offensive line as a collective unit was underwhelming last year, the cornerbacks were elite.

The Giants featured one of the NFL’s very best secondaries in 2016. Boasting two Pro Bowlers in Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins, the unit helped catapult the Giants into the postseason for the first time since 2011. It was the culmination of an off-season overhaul, which saw Jerry Reese make a concerted effort to improve the secondary. Reese allocated significant funds to secure Jenkins, and also used a first-round pick on cornerback Eli Apple.

While the group still features talented players, the lack of cornerback depth is tremendously concerning.

Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple and Domininque Rodgers-Cromartie round out the starting three cornerbacks. But behind them, a cast of uncertainty resides. Last year’s contributors Leon Hall and Coty Sensabaugh are both gone from the team. Ditto for Trevin Wade. And in a league that has an ongoing emphasis on passing the football, the adage that a team can never have too many cornerbacks has never been truer.

Donte Deayon, Valentino Blake and Michael Hunter are the established corners on the roster. Hunter saw regular-season action last year, compiling a forgettable year. Deayon, despite his enormous heart, is quite frankly undersized. And Blake’s deficient football IQ was parodied thrice on ESPN’s “C’mon Man” segment.

Essentially, New York’s shocking lack of cornerback depth is a clear weakness, and ones that team’s have taken advantage of in the past. This year the Giants face Amari Cooper, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Doug Baldwin, Larry Fitzgerald, DeSean Jackson, Mike Evans and Alshon Jeffery and Dez Bryant twice. Not exactly the prime time to have a cornerback group lacking viable depth.

In New York’s playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, the momentum significantly shifted as soon as DRC left the game with an injury. That wasn’t a first-time occurrence either. In 2015, Washington exploited DRC’s absence immediately, dialing up a deep pass for DeSean Jackson.

If DRC goes down again, what’s the plan? Furthermore, if any of New York’s starting CBs goes down, what will happen? You could argue that the Giants’ offensive line situation may be slightly more robust than the cornerback situation simply because of depth.

There is certainly still time for the Giants to fix this issue. Heck, the team didn’t sign Leon Hall until August of last year. Capable veteran guys are still on the open market. Tramaine Brock is still out there, as is Brandon Flowers. Sterling Moore gave Odell Beckham Jr. problems when they met last year, and he’s also a free agent. Patrick Robinson also remains unsigned. Sam Shields, despite injury concerns, is also on the open market. Leon Hall is also available, and may be worth bringing back. Alterraun Verner is also available, and may be the most sensible option.

“What about Darrelle Revis?”

Revis would be an awful fit, and way too pricey. But yeah, he’s a free agent too, so that’s a thing.

Now, should you expect the Giants to add a veteran cornerback to add depth? Well, it depends. As it stands now, the Giants have around $6.5 million to work with, according to Spot Trac. The only way signing a veteran cornerback would make sense would be if the deal could be a one-year, team-friendly deal. What that means is you can forget about Revis and Flowers.

But despite financial restrictions, the need is obviously there. And unlike the offensive linemen who are available, the available cornerbacks may be worth the money.

It also wouldn’t be the first time the Giants made a preseason addition. Last year the team obviously added Hall. But a year prior, New York signed safety Brandon Meriweather to a deal during the summer months. When rosters start filling out, and perhaps some players don’t develop the way coaches expected them to, veterans get signed.

One could argue the Giants may be better off signing an offensive lineman or another pass-rusher. But the talent currently available at cornerback is greater than the available linemen. Adding a quality veteran cornerback would make the secondary that much better, and would give the Giants a Plan B if one of their starters were to suffer a significant injury.

The Giants would be very wise to address the area of deficiency. Because of one of their three starting corners has to miss time, things will likely quickly get ugly.

Talk Giants with Ryan on Twitter: @DisdierSports
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