Last summer, the New York Giants were desperate to find a starting-caliber cornerback opposite James Bradberry. This desperation increased when draft pick DeAndre Baker ran into some legal issues from which he was later exonerated, and Sam Beal opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns.
After trying numerous free agents signed off the street, the Giants sent a seventh-round pick to the Broncos in exchange for Isaac Yiadom, a former third-round pick by the Broncos out of Boston College who would go on to play in all 16 games for the Giants last year (with ten starts).
Yiadom recorded 46 total tackles, one quarterback pressure, and five pass breakups with no interceptions, at times looking like he might be the answer. However, the more he played, the more it was apparent the Giants could do much better. They even benched Yiadom for Ryan Lewis midway into the season before going back to Yiadom when Lewis landed on injured reserve.
To improve their prospects of playing more man-to-man coverage, the Giants added Adoree' Jackson, a first-round pick by the Titans, drafted Aaron Robinson in the third round after trading up for him in this year's draft.
Where does that leave Yiadom, who agreed to a pay cut to remain with the Giants? Clearly fighting for a roster spot, of course. So let's see what kind of chance he has of hanging around.
What He Brings
One of the reasons the Broncos are thought to have soured on Yiadom was that he wasn't the ideal fit for their complex zone scheme installed under new head coach Vic Fangio. Yiadom ended up getting burned for big chunks of yardage in coverage within that scheme, his game slowly unraveling.
Yiadom lost his starting role, in part, due to an uptick in penalties--he recorded nine penalties for 87 yards in his two years in Denver, five of them coming in 2019 and four of those five resulting in first downs for the opponent.
He also allowed 70.4% of the pass targets against him to be complete for 490 yards, and while he didn't give up any touchdowns in coverage, he also didn't have any interceptions and managed to break up just one more pass (four) than he did as a rookie when he had three.
So what did the Giants like about Yiadom? His run support was probably a big draw. Per PFF, Yiadom was the Giants defensive secondary's second-best defensive back in run support, behind fellow cornerback James Bradberry. That's not a surprise considering Yiadom is physical, aggressive, and has good tackling mechanics (his open-field tackling was one of his top strengths last year).
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But when it came to executing in man coverage, Yiadom simply wasn't up to the task. Yiadom lacks the twitch, fluidity, or short-area quickness to react and close on a dime and thus was often susceptible to the double-moves he'd encounter from receivers.
Yiadom's struggles to stay with receivers is another concern in his game and a reason why he didn't appear to be an ideal fit for what defensive coordinator Patrick Graham sought to run last year.
Yiadom agreed to a reduced salary for the final year of his original rookie deal initially signed with the Denver Broncos.
Yiadom's base salary of $2.148 million was slashed to $920,000, with $100,000 guaranteed. That brings his 2021 cap hit to $1.07 million, a sharp reduction of the $2.183 million cap hit he was scheduled to carry in 2021.
Nick Falato, in his "Good, Great, and Ugly" study of Yiadom's 2020 film, put it best when he wrote, "Yiadom isn’t a bad player; he’s just not an ideal option to start in a defense that wants to run man coverage."
Yiadom very much has a chance to make the roster as a depth role player who can contribute in sub-packages requiring sideline to sideline zone coverage and an aggressive downhill style of attack, especially against the run.
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