New York Giants 2013 NFL Draft Preview: Cornerback

by Contributor Sy’56

Current Cornerbacks on the Giants Roster:

Corey Webster – 31 Years Old – Signed through 2014 (player option)

Terrell Thomas = 28 Years Old – Signed through 2013

Prince Amukamara – 23 Years Old – Signed through 2014

Jayron Hosley – 22 Years Old – Signed through 2015

Aaron Ross – 30 Years Old – Signed through 2013

Terrence Frederick – 23 Years Old – Signed through 2013

Antonio Dennard – 23 Years Old – Signed through 2014

Trumaine McBride – 27 Years Old – Signed through 2013

Buddy Jackson – 24 Years Old – Signed through 2014

Laron Scott – 24 Years Old – Signed through 2014

Where They Stand:

As it currently stands, cornerback may be the deepest group on the Giants roster. Between the veterans and young talent, there is a nice blend of proven success and high-ceiling potential. In 2012, this was group ravaged by injuries and the lack of depth came back to bite them hard. There were a few points where the Giants defensive backfield appeared to be one of the worst in football. With that said, they are looking for healthy returns and maturation from their younger players. Webster is on the wrong side of 30, coming off one of his worst seasons in blue. He still has enough in the tank to be the team’s top cover man, but his days may be numbered here. Thomas returns from his second season-ending knee injury. He had a nice start to his career, looking like a solid starter the back end could depend on. How he bounces back is a huge question mark to say the least. Amukamara and Hosley have not stood out early in their respective careers, but they’ve shown enough in games to deserve a shot at big time responsibilities. They are both young and cheap with a lot of potential, that’s all you can ask for. Ross was brought back on a one year deal with minimal risk. While he is not a difference maker, Ross is a reliable performer at a tough position that has become more and more important. Having him as a #4 or #5 corner makes this a very deep group. Behind him are a bunch of practice squad bodies that could compete for a roster spot should injuries arise. Frederick and Scott were both graded in the 5th round tier on my CB board at this time last year. When all is said and done, the Giants should feel good about this group when comparing to what the rest of the league has at cornerback.

Top 10 Grades:

Dee Milliner – 6’0/201 – Alabama: 90

Xavier Rhodes – 6’2/210 – Florida State: 84

Jamar Taylor – 5’11/192 – Boise State: 82

Tryann Mathieu – 5’9/186 – LSU: 80

Dwayne Gratz – 5’11/201 – Connecticut: 79

D.J. Hayden – 5’11/191 – Houston: 78

Micah Hyde – 6’0/197 – Iowa: 78

B.W. Webb – 5’10/184 – William & Mary: 77

Sanders Commings – 6’0/216 – Georgia: 76

Johnthan Banks – 6’2/185 – Mississippi State: 76

Early Round Target (1st-2nd):

Xavier Rhodes – Florida State

Huge frame that is filled out and ready for the physical side of the game. Immediately becomes a strong presence as a press corner and run defender. Likes to play strong, has a safety’s mentality when tackling. Wraps up and delivers a pop, will be a reliable defender. Further along with the jam technique than most college corners are coming out. Re-routes receivers with his punch. Has great body control downfield when locating at attacking the football. Gets his hands on a lot of balls. Will lose track of the action behind him in zone coverage. Doesn’t twist and turn with as much fluidity as you want. Appears stiff at times. Won’t run stride for stride with the league’s top deep threats.

I don’t expect Milliner to fall anywhere within the Giants grasp in round one, but I think Rhodes has a shot at being there. He will have to be in the discussion even though cornerback is not a pressing need. The big, physical corners are becoming a weapon for pass defenses. Rhodes is about as big a cornerback as you will find considering his height, length, and girth. He is a strong player that brings presence to a secondary. He lacks some fluidity in his hips that disables the turn and run component to his game a bit, but nothing that would keep him off the field. For a guy this big and this strong, Rhodes has the surprising ability to maintain balance and control when running at full speed down the field. He will be a tough guy to throw on, plain and simple. His power game will help underneath and his length/speed combination will make him a deep cover man that quarterbacks will think twice about throwing on.

Mid Round Target (3rd-5th):

Micah Hyde – Iowa

Big and physical with the ability to press and tackle at a high level. Tremendous ball skills down the field. Tracks the ball and times his lunges well. Plays fast. Will run with a lot of speed receivers deep. Versatile, can do a lot for a defense. Just as effective as a deep zone cover guy as he is at the point of attack jamming the receiver. Will gamble and guess too often. Stop/go quickness and agility are average. Very hands on underneath and got away with it in college. The speed was not challenged often enough in college.

I’ll say with confidence that I probably have the highest grade on Hyde among all evaluators. I did not watch Iowa until November, and I simply put a star next to Hyde’s name to ensure I would go back and check him out after the season. A closer look led me to believe that he is going to be an overlooked but effective defensive back in the league. He is a guy that plays as fast as he needs to on a weekly basis. His game speed far outweighs his workouts, even though his times are nothing to be looked down upon. Hyde has great body control and displays knowledge of a lot of nuances to the position that I just don’t see when watching college corners. He has played safety and corner with plenty of experience. Versatility is key with defensive backs, and he is one of the best multi-faceted guys in this class.

Late Round Target (6th-Undrafted):

Kayvon Webster – 5’11/195 – South Florida: 68

Explosive in short space, great hips that show flexibility and power. Can really turn and run. Trusted in deep coverage. Has elite speed that can handle deep responsibility on an island. Long arms and a thick frame. Has a physical element to his game. Zero hesitation in taking on blocks from linemen. Physical and willing tackler. Will lose his balance and body control underneath. Has a hard time locating the ball and attacking when moving at a high speed. Loses athleticism when running with his back to the quarterback. A little too hands on, needs to trust his feet more.

Webster is a guy that some current NFL players are raving about in pre-draft workouts. Webster caught my eye a couple times during the season, playing a very similar game to former South Florida 1st round pick Mike Jenkins. He brings a physical style to the game that the Giants need. But he is more than a strong presence, as he’s shown some finesse to his game as a cover man. He has some of the most explosive and fluid hips in this class, something you want to work with when bringing a corner in. Webster is potentially a year or two of coaching and hard work away from being a starting caliber player.

The Plan:

This is an incredibly deep group of cornerbacks, especially in the middle rounds. Without a real big sense of urgency on the depth chart, the Giants are in a position to sit tight and wait for a big time value. I don’t expect anyone to be there in round 1 or 2 that presents that value considering who else will be available and what their roster needs are. There will be a logjam of quality physical cover men that have the versatility fill a couple holes in the middle-to-late rounds. Unless a tremendous value falls, I would wait until round 4 to consider this position. Both the short and long term outlooks are looking positive. Even with that in mind, a defensive backfield needs to be prepared for injuries, as seen last year. There is space on the roster for another cornerback without taking anything away from other groups. Ideally a guy could come in that has the versatility to at least play a little safety if need be. That’s where the names like Micah Hyde and Sanders Commings come to mind, two prospects I really like on tape that will be available a bit later.