While many have pegged Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah as a logical fit for the cornerback-needy New York Giants in the draft, New York Post’s Ryan Dunleavy has reported that the team may opt to go a different route.
Sources close to Dunleavy believe that the Giants will heavily prioritize a veteran cornerback in free agency.
Expect the Giants to prioritize cornerback in free agency one year after mistakenly failing to do so, sources said.
Even with the possibility Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah will be available at No. 4, the Giants understand the need to add a veteran. There is optimism things clicked for DeAndre Baker – one of three first-round picks in 2019 – late in his rookie season. Other teams are not sure he has NFL cornerback speed.
The Giants’ pitch to free agent Byron Jones could include offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, Jones’ head coach with the Cowboys for the last five seasons. James Bradberry (Panthers) is another coveted option.
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Byron Jones a Logical Fit With Giants
Byron Jones took a bit of a step back in 2019, after being named as a Pro Bowler and a second-team All-Pro the year prior. Still, Jones finished last season as Pro Football Focus’ 17th-ranked cornerback in football.
With that said, Jones won’t come cheap, as he’s expect to demand big money on the open market this offseason. Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic even went as far as predicting Jones will set the cornerback market, becoming the highest-paid player in football at his position.
Luckily for the Giants, they have the league’s sixth-largest amount of cap space entering free agency, and they employ Jason Garrett, who is the only head coach Jones has known during his five-year NFL career.
Jones, a former safety standing at 6’0” and weighing 205 pounds, excels in man-to-man coverage, evident by his forced incompletion rate of 15.1% last year.
Giants’ Young Cornerbacks Showed Promise in 2019
Speaking of man coverage, 2019 first-round pick DeAndre Baker rebounded mightily in the second half of his rookie campaign after a putrid start to his NFL career, following the Giants’ decision to shift to more man coverage. Here’s a tweet from PFF detailing Baker’s dominance down the final stretch of this past season.
While the Giants will expect Baker to build on his late-season performance, the jury is still certainly out on fellow cornerback Sam Beal. When the G-Men moved on from Janoris Jenkins midway through 2019, the hope was that Beal, the former supplementary draft pick, would be able to tap into the potential that once had him pegged as a possible first-round NFL draft pick. However, his 53.9 PFF grade from the past season certainly left much to be desired.
Beal will most likely be given another chance to compete for playing time in 2020. However, it’s evidently clear that the Giants must improve on a secondary that allowed the fifth-most passing yards a season ago.