The Giant Insider Online

Giants’ secondary can go either way this season

The New York Giants’ secondary is usually a work in progress with one or two positions usually up for grabs as training camp opens. That isn’t the case in 2018. The club has made moves the past few years to procure top talent in the unit, using three high draft picks and lots of free agent cash to solidify the group.

But nothing is guaranteed in this world. Sure, Janoris Jenkins is a top corner and Landon Collins just may be the best safety in the league but it takes a cohesive unit of six or seven players to get the job done.

The Giants have a former first round pick, Eli Apple, penciled in as a starter at corner across from Jenkins and are still trying to figure out if former third round pick Darien Thompson can be their starting free safety. Apple has gone through some growing pains on and off the field but appears to be ready to make the jump, as they say, to living up to his pedigree. Thompson has to prove he can be consistent out in space and not give up the big play.

Based on last year’s horrific defensive performance, there is no reason to believe the Giants’ secondary can be anything more than average if all goes right, as the website Pro Football Focus is telling us.

15. NEW YORK GIANTS

Projected starting lineup:

Starting cornerback: Janoris Jenkins, 79.0 grade
Safety: Landon Collins, 88.5
Safety: Darian Thompson, 52.2
Starting cornerback: Eli Apple, 73.6
Nickel cornerback: William Gay, 51.4

“The once-dominant Giants pass defense that had more interceptions than touchdowns allowed in 2016 has lost some of its luster. Gone is Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie while Jenkins’ play came crashing back down to earth after his career year. The key for them will be the development of former top 10 pick in Apple, who is now thrust into a starting role. He’s flashed that first-round talent at times, but has been mired by inconsistency. For his career, he’s allowed a passer rating against of 108.4.”

The secondary will be different this year, if not better. The new defensive coordinator, James Bettcher, plans on generating more pressure on quarterbacks, something the Giants did not do last season, registering just 27 sacks on the year. That should take the onus off the secondary a bit and not expose them for long swaths of time.

Another plus is the incoming secondary coach, Lou Anarumo a 51-year-old Staten Island native, who was the Miami Dolphins’ defensive backs coach from 2012-17. Last year, the fiery Anarumo coached Dolphins strong safety Reshad Jones (122 tackles) to a career year as Jones was selected a starter on the AFC Pro Bowl team. Anarumo is known for his physical style and his players have thrived under tutelage.

Under the previous coaching staffs, the Giants had split the responsibilities of the safeties and the corners between two coaches. This year Anarumo will handle all the defensive backs.

In addition to Apple and Jenkins, the Giants have added veteran William Gay and supplemental draft pick Sam Beal to their cornerback unit as well as DBs Michael Thomas, Teddy Williams and Curtis Riley.

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