John Fennelly, Lead WriterThe NFL is a copycat league and the Giants have been on both sides of the equation when it comes to setting and following the league’s latest trends.
This year, Big Blue is on the following end. After watching how the Seattle Seahawks wagged the dog by featuring their defensive backs as a strength, the Giants went into overdrive in the draft and the free agent market to bolster their sagging cornerback unit.
They cut ties with Terrell Thomas and Corey Webster and brought in several veteran CBs via free agency (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Walter Thurmond III and Zack Bowman), drafted Bennett Jackson out of Notre Dame and recommitted to Prince Amukamara and Trumaine McBride.
Jayron Hosley, former third round selection, is still under contract but has been suspended the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s drug policy.
Giants’ CB coach Peter Giunta has been tutoring and teaching defensive backs in the NFL since 1991. He has won Super Bowls with both the Rams and the Giants. He knows when he is challenged and he knows when he has the horses. This year, the latter is the case.
“We’ve got 10 quality corners right now in the program,” Giunta said at the team’s minicamp. “Trumaine did a tremendous job for us starting the second half of the season. Prince had a very good year for us. Bringing in two guys that started in the Super Bowl obviously helps. Zack Bowman started on Chicago’s defense, a very good defense.
There are five guys that have a lot of NFL experience on good defenses and good football teams so that is huge. And the Jayron played a number of snaps for us, so did Charles James so we have great depth and we have some good young kids, Travis Howard, we have Ross Weaver, we drafted Bennett Jackson. We have great depth at that position, the deepest I’ve ever had in my years in the league.”
Very few disagree with Giunta, a smart football man who doesn’t make many bold public statements. DRC was a coup for GM Jerry Reese this spring, giving him a cornerstone corner to go with the fast-improving Prince. Throw in Thurmond, who has already staked his claim to being the “best slot corner in the league,” and one can see that the Giants clearly got the the memo this offseason to follow the Seattle blueprint.
With the pass rush still looking to find it’s groove, coverage sacks will come in handy. The past several seasons, the Giants were exposed in their back seven especially by teams with tall – or long – wideouts. The CB group was either too short or too slow. The Giants were the anti-Seahawks when it came to secondary production.
That is why Reese zoned in on DRC. He is the type of player that the others can learn from and feed off of.
“He’s got that other gear. He can run as fast as he needs to run to get up on top of a receiver, catch up to a receiver,” said Giuntaof his new No. 1. “He’s got that gear that’s incredible. He’s such a smooth athlete. His length is so good and his ball skills are fantastic. He’s got that great skill set where he’s got the speed to recover if he does beat, he’s got the quickness to recover. He’s got the length to reach out and knock balls away that other corners wouldn’t be able to get to and he’s got great hands to make plays on the ball in the air. He’s got what you’re looking for in a corner.”
And the Giants hope they’ve found it.