The New York Giants found themselves a true No. 1 cornerback this past offseason when they wisely doled out $32 million guaranteed to land Pro Bowler James Bradberry.
In a far less heralded move approximately a month later, the Giants pulled the trigger on an undersized defensive back out of UCLA in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft named Darnay Holmes.
Fast forward 10 months and one expert believes the Giants may have secured themselves not one, but two No. 1 cornerbacks.
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Darnay Holmes Receives Lofty Comparison
Private trainer and defensive backs expert Brian Walker recently spoke to GiantsWire to highlight Holmes’ dynamic rookie campaign. Walker, who has worked with Holmes and safety Jabrill Peppers in the past, has enjoyed an up-close and personal view of what Holmes brings to the table. Spoiler alert, he likes what he sees.
In fact, Walker went as far as to name-drop Darrell Revis as a reason to denounce size concerns over the 5-foot-11-inch Holmes, before comparing the former Pac-12 standout to one of the league’s very best, three-time All-Pro corner Chris Harris Jr.
“Why I mention him (Chris Harris) is because he made his money playing inside and outside while also playing in the same secondary as Champ Bailey,” Walker said. “His versatility made him a Pro Bowler and that’s why he’s still in the league.”
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Can Holmes Play on the Outside?
Holmes arrived in East Rutherford with unusually high expectations for a mid-round draft pick. Some of those expectations were self-induced, while the rest had to do with New York’s blatant need at the cornerback position following the fallout of the DeAndre Baker fiasco.
Yet, by most accounts, Holmes delivered.
While he struggled with penalties from time-to-time, the California native appeared in 12 games (five starts) for the Giants in 2020, recording five pass breakups, one interception, 30 tackles, two QB hits and a half of a sack. Furthermore, Holmes was targeted 52 times as a rookie, the most by a first-year defensive back to not allow a single touchdown (per Pro Football Focus).
Even more noteworthy is the fact that Holmes performed so admirably as a rookie despite playing what could essentially be chalked up as a foreign position. A three-year starter with the Bruins, Holmes logged a mere 76 snaps from the slot position over his collegiate career.
“The slot position is really tough because you get so many different types of looks and opponents. Most of these other corners on the outside have safety help, which makes guarding No. 1 guys in the slot that much harder since you don’t have that help,” Walker said. “There’s so much more space rather than playing near the sidelines on the outside. As a rookie to not give up a touchdown, that’s impressive.”
Walker believes that Holmes’ brilliance from the slot is just the tip of the iceberg.
“That was a great checkpoint for Holmes to have under his belt, especially since he never played the slot in college. If you can master the nickel, I don’t see why he can’t play on the outside, that comes easier.”
While the Giants continue to scope the NFL landscape and upcoming draft class for bodies to fill their glaring void opposite James Bradberry on the outside, the solution may very well be directly in front of them.