Initially, Xavier McKinney was perceived as one of, if not the biggest steal of the draft by most accounts. However, shortly after the dust settled, chatter around NFL circles made New York Giants fans quickly realize that he may not even be the biggest steal on their own team.
Darnay Holmes truthers have come out the woodwork since Big Blue scooped him up in the 4th-round a little over a month ago. Truthers with Hall of Fame credentials at that.
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Hall of Fame Mentors
Let’s just say Holmes’ contact list is a bit more extravagant than the typical 21-year-old’s. As he ventures into his rookie NFL season, he’ll have many avenues to reach out to for advice on how to develop as a pro. For starters, Darnay’s father Darick played 4+ years in the league with the Buffalo Bills.
If Holmes feels like venturing outside the family for advice, a quick phone call to either Rod Woodson, Aeneas Williams or Deion Sanders should do the trick. Per ESPN, Holmes listed the trio of Pro Football Hall of Famers as his mentors following the 2020 NFL draft.
Rod Woodson ‘Excited to Watch’ Holmes
Rod Woodson first caught wind of Holmes through UCLA defensive back Quentin Lake, the son of Woodson’s former Pittsburgh Steelers teammate, Carnell Lake. It’s safe to say the 11x-Pro Bowler came away utterly impressed.
“He might be the sleeper [defensive back] in the draft,” Woodson told ESPN. “I know he was taken in the fourth round. But I like his mindset. No coach can measure one’s heart and one’s mind until you start playing. I think when I’ve seen him playing and talked to Carnell and his son, just the way he moves and how fluid he is and has that recall during the games when people are doing stuff to him that makes you kind of excited to watch a player like that.”
Aeneas Williams: Giants Got ‘a Steal’
Aeneas Williams’ relationship with Holmes dates back to Nike’s The Opening in 2016. It was there where the 4x-All Pro selection initially served as Holmes’ coach. Williams would reprise that role years down the road at the 2020 Reese’s Senior Bowl.
Williams left The Opening impressed with Holmes’ “willingness to seek mentorship and his natural leadership” traits, leading to the two keeping in touch ever since.
In fact, prior to COVID-19 pandemic, Holmes had planned on traveling to Missouri this spring to stay with and train under Williams “in an effort to solidify his game.”
While Holmes’ post-draft plans got derailed, that hasn’t stopped him from putting in the necessary work. The cornerback has continually sought the HOFer’s feedback, readily sending tapes of his workouts to Williams.
Holmes’ size is what likely deterred teams from taking a chance on the uber-talented playmaker earlier on in the draft. However, Williams is sure that his mentee is primed to outplay his draft position.
“I was thinking in the back of my mind, a team is going to get a steal,” Williams said to ESPN. “I didn’t know when or where he was going to go, but I know he has a lot more value than where he was drafted. I can tell you that.”
Rave Reviews League Wide
Williams and Woodson are far from the only people who have given their stamp of approval to the Giants rookie.
Deion Sanders notably gushed over Holmes‘ “flawless” and “unbelievable” combine workout. NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks went on record deeming Holmes “the best nickelback” in the class prior to the draft. While Bleacher Report draft expert Connor Rogers gave the G-Men an A grade for their selection of Holmes.
It’s highly unusual for a mid-round selection to carry such high expectations. However, the prevalent names backing Holmes certainly give you reason to believe that not only does he have the potential to live up to those loft expectations, but quite possibly exceed them.