Joe Judge Explains Why Adding a Veteran Cornerback isn't a Priority

Patricia Traina

Over the last three years, the Giants spent six draft picks on the position—Beal (third-round, 2018 supplemental draft), Baker (first round, 2019), Julian Love (fourth round, 2019), Corey Ballentine (sixth round 2019), Darnay Holmes (fourth round, 2020) and Chris Williamson (seventh round, 2020). That’s in addition to free agent slot cornerback Grant Haley who is entering his third season.

These days, that group is without Baker (on the Commissioner’s Exempt List) and Beal (COVID-19 opt-out). And while only two of the remaining players, Holmes and Williamson, have yet to set foot on an NFL field for a regular-season game, there is still some general concern among the fan base that the Giants don’t have enough at the position.

Head coach Joe Judge, however, doesn’t necessarily agree with that line of thinking. While he’s reiterated that the team will always look to add talent to the program, he’s not about to give up on the young players the roster has at the cornerback position.

“Our priority is just that develop the players you have on the roster and look for any talent available on the street,” Judge told reporters Wednesday. “I don't care if it's first-year player or tenth year--we're looking for good players to help build this program.”

Judge’s thinking isn’t flawed. Last year, Ballentine (131.2 NFL Rating) and Haley (114.2) were among the team’s worst in coverage, allowing five touchdowns between them.

An argument certainly could be made regarding the deployment of not just the cornerbacks but the defense in general given how many times the same mistakes and breakdowns that occurred in Week 1 were happening in Week 17.

Ballentine, for example, was deployed to the slot, a position he hasn’t had much experience playing in college, and he struggled, finishing with a 132.7 NFL Rating and allowing all four of the touchdowns scored against him from the slot.

When Judge was hired, he overhauled the defensive coaching staff, including the position coaches. Among his hires was Jerome Henderson, a former NFL defensive back, who now works with the Giants safeties and cornerbacks.

Meanwhile, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham seems more open to letting the talents of the players dictate what roles they end up filling rather than letting the scheme drive personnel decisions that might not necessarily be the best fit for the players.

While the Giants haven’t totally hitched their wagon to the youth at cornerback—they added veteran James Bradberry in the off-season and recently tried to reunite with veteran Ross Cockrell only to see that deal not come to fruition, Judge seems more than willing to be patient and let the talent he has on the roster which has yet to go up against the offense in organized team drills in this new scheme.

“Is it a priority to have a veteran?” Judge asked, repeating the question asked of him. “No it's not.” 

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