The New York Giants got arguably the steal of the NFL Draft on the event’s second day when former Alabama safety and projected top-20 pick Xavier McKinney fell into Big Blue’s lap with the 36th-overall selection.
However, since the conclusion of the draft, a fellow defensive back from the Giants draft class, ex-UCLA Bruin Darnay Holmes, has been the selection garnering the most praise.
NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks has gone on record deeming Holmes “the best nickelback in this class.” Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller called Holmes one of the “fastest, quickest corners” in the class, while fellow B/R Draft analyst Connor Rogers gave the selection of Holmes in the 4th round an A.
Yet, the most notable praise Holmes received during the draft process actually came during late April’s NFL Combine, where he received the stamp of approval from none other than Deion Sanders.
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Deion Sanders Praises Darnay Holmes
It’s safe to say Sanders knows a thing or two about playing the cornerback position. The former 14-year NFL pro and Pro Football Hall of Famer, better known to many simply as Primetime, is perceived by most as the best to ever do it at the position. So chances are when Sanders is impressed by one’s abilities, it likely bodes well for said player’s future success.
That’s exactly what happened during this year’s NFL Combine when Holmes absolutely blew away Sanders, who was working as an analyst with NFL Network while participating in cornerback drills.
“The best guy that I’ve seen thus far has been Darnay Holmes… he looked flawless, unbelievable.” – Deion Sanders
— Zach Soskin (@ZSoskin) March 1, 2020
The best guy that I’ve seen thus far in this drill is Darnay Holmes…he looked flawless, it was unbelievable.
It’s evident that Holmes has left a lasting impression during “draft season” from analysts to Hall of Famers. Here’s a glimpse of Drae Harris of The Draft Network’s evaluation of Holmes following a brilliant three year-career at UCLA:
ANALYST’S REPORTS – Darnay Holmes, CB, UCLAPros: He demonstrates very good reactive athleticism for the position. In the run game he has shown instances of being a wrap up tackler. While on the perimeter he has also shown good tackling efficiency and rarely misses tackles. He demonstrates his dynamic athletic ability in the passing game and on special teams. He displays very good footwork at the line of scrimmage in press and easily stays on top. While in press, he effortlessly opens his hips and runs upfield with receivers. In off man he has very good transition at the top of the route. Has excellent recovery speed when his technique has gotten him in trouble. However, he demonstrates all the ideal physical tools to kick inside to play nickel. He also is a dynamic returner and projects as a 4 phase core special teamer in the NFL.
Holmes Is More Than a Defensive Back
Aside from challenging for the starting nickel job out of the gates in New York, Holmes has a great shot at nailing down the starting return man gig as well. Cody Latimer, who served as Big Blue’s return specialist a season ago, is now in Washington as a member of the Redskins.
However, if Holmes could make plays in the return game like the one shown below by Alex Wilson of Empire Sports Media, then chances are New York fans will forget about Latimer fairly quickly.
This is where I see Darnay Holmes making the biggest impact in year 1 with the Giants — special teams ace.
He can be an electric return man while he works on his craft in the slot.
— Alex Wilson (@AlexWilsonESM) April 25, 2020