Typically you wouldn’t describe a free agent whom you handed $32 million on the open market to as a steal. Yet, so far for the Giants, cornerback James Bradberry is looking every bit of one throughout the early parts of his tenure in New York.
Three weeks down and matchups against two of the league’s top talents at the wide receiver position in the books (JuJu Smith-Schuster and Allen Robinson), the 27-year old Bradberry is in the midst of what is shaping up to be his best season to date.
Bradberry’s nine pass breakups are the most in the NFL heading into Week 4 and outpace the next closest defensive back by four in the category. Furthermore, he’s forced tight coverage on seven of his 19 targets this year, surrendering zero catches on such occasions. According to Pro Football Focus, this is the highest number of forced targets in tight coverage by any NFL cornerback without allowing a reception this season.
Bradberry Ranks Among Best Free Agent Signings in NFL
Speaking of PFF, even they, despite their tendency to lean towards the pessimistic approach when it comes to Giants players (at least according to fans), can’t deny Bradberry’s excellence thus far.
The Giants corner was named PFF’s Defensive Player of the Week for his stellar performance against the aforementioned Allen Robinson in Week 2. Since then, they’ve continued to shower Bradberry with praise, naming the Pleasant Grove, Alabama native as one of free agency’s best signings of this past offseason.
Here’s what PFF’s Brad Spielberger had to say about the cornerback:
At the end of the day, Bradberry is a quality Cover-3 corner at just 27 years of age who can also play well in press-man coverage when called upon. The last time a Panthers cornerback went to the NFC East on a big contract, it was Josh Norman to the Washington Football Team, but so far Bradberry is off to a much better start in New York.
Bradberry was absolutely dominant in Week 2 with a tough matchup against Allen Robinson. He ripped an interception away from Robinson without even turning back to look at the throw — just a pure instincts play.
In addition to the highlight plays, Bradberry has been great on a snap-to-snap basis. His 84.1 coverage grade ranks third among all cornerbacks with at least 50 snaps in 2020. The Giants had to hit on Bradberry with their 2019 first-round pick cornerback Deandre Baker pursuing a different career path, and so far GM Dave Gettleman’s reunion with the cornerback he drafted in Carolina back in 2016 is off to a great start.
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Giants Believe Bradberry Can Get Even Better
Or at least that’s what Bradberry’s position coach thinks.
“He’s been very productive on the ball, he’s been very steady, very reliable,” defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson said of Bradberry earlier this week. “There are areas where he has to get better as well. But he’s been very productive on the ball. He’s done a good job there.”
Bradberry is currently the only Giants defensive back this season to record an interception. He’s also shown a willingness to get his nose dirty, as his 10 solo tackles are tied with linebacker Lorenzo Carter for the fourth-highest total on the team.
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