The New York Giants entered free agency with an abundance of spending money. Yet, by most accounts they didn’t come away with the big-name free agent many projected them to nab (cough, cough, Jadevon Clowney). However, Dave Gettleman instead opted to spread out his cash on specific positions that he deemed worthy of spending on. For the other pressing needs, Big Blue opted to wait for the draft.
All in all, New York’s offseason has been applauded by the masses. Although some question whether they’ve added a true game-changer to their roster.
John Schmeelk of Giants.com isn’t quite sure if cornerback James Bradberry can live up to that billing, but he’s certainly excited to see what happens. Even going as far as to peg the former Carolina Panther as quite possibly “the most important player on the roster,” aside from quarterback Daniel Jones.
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Is James Bradberry the Most Important Player on Big Blue’s Defense?
Xavier McKinney could certainly receive some love here. When all is said and done, free-agent Blake Martinez could end up being the team’s most successful addition this offseason. That is, if he can shore-up his play in coverage. Let’s also not forget Oshane Ximines, who offers arguably the most upside of any player on the unit.
However, from Schemeelk’s viewpoint, New York’s defense will go as James Bradberry goes in 2020.
He has a track record of being a good NFL cornerback, and there’s no reason that should change now, so my usual criteria do not apply to him. Other than Daniel Jones, Bradberry might be the most important player on the roster.
Last season, the Giants were the fifth worst team in the league in passing yards allowed and second worst in pass defense DVOA (an advanced metric that measures defensive efficiency against the pass). The team faces another gauntlet of excellent quarterbacks this year and the ability to stop the pass must improve if the defense is going to get better and the team is to win more games.
Bradberry is the key to the team getting better against the pass. He traveled with the opposing team’s best receiver when he was with Carolina and will probably be asked to do the same in what is likely to be Patrick Graham’s heavy man to man defensive scheme. He must play well if teams are going to be slowed on third down and late in games when the passing game is most prevalent and impacts winning and losing the most.
Lack of Pass-Rush Makes Bradberry Even More Critical to Success
As we noted earlier, Jadeveon Clowney hasn’t taken his talents to the Big Apple thus far, and to hold on to hope that such an outcome would occur would likely be a waste of energy.
The possibility of Markus Golden returning to Big Blue next season is certainly possible. However, the team’s decision to use the UFA Tender on their 2019 sack-leader may ultimately push him away from wanting to re-sign.
That leaves a mishmash of unproven and/or inconsistent edge defenders to get after opposing quarterbacks in 2020. In return, placing even more pressure on the G-Men’s prized free-agent signing.
The Giants did not add a big-ticket pass rusher in free agency or in the first three rounds of the draft. They signed Kyler Fackrell and could bring back Markus Golden, but it will be a pass rush by committee that may rely on a lot of blitzing. If the team does send five or six men after the quarterback regularly, even more pressure will be put on the shoulders of Bradberry.
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