Why Christian Angulo is a Name to Watch Among the Cornerback Competition
A nightmarish offseason for the Giants' returning cornerbacks will open up opportunities for rookies in 2020, and undrafted free agent Christian Angulo might be just what the defense needs.
Former first-round pick DeAndre Baker was formally charged with four counts of robbery with a firearm stemming from an incident in Miramar, Florida, in May.
Meanwhile, third-year corner Sam Beal, a compensatory draft pick in 2018, has opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns.
Angulo, 23, comes into the NFL from the FCS ranks as a one-year starter at Hampton. He transferred to the HBCU in 2019 for his final two years of eligibility after four seasons at Cincinnati.
Against Big South Conference competition in 2019, Angulo started all 13 games for Hampton, making 18 tackles, three interceptions and 14 pass breakups (fifth in the FCS), and was named a second-team all-conference selection.
More importantly, Angulo played in a press man defensive scheme under head coach Robert Prunty. The Giants are hoping Angulo's success in that system can translate to a better adjustment for NFL playing time, unlike most FCS prospects.
"As a DB, you want to be in a scheme that plays a lot of press coverage," Prunty told Giants Country by phone.
"You don't see a lot of FCS teams run press coverage and that's what we did here ... That's what the SEC does and the SEC puts a lot of kids in the NFL."
Prunty has seen his fair share of players that went on to successful NFL careers. Former All-Pro cornerback Carlos Rogers, former offensive tackle Branden Albert, former defensive end Charles Grant, former defensive tackle Peria Jerry and former running back Jonathan Sullivan are all Prunty's proteges from the high school and college level.
Now Angulo is in a situation with the Giants that Prunty believes is ideal for him to take the next step at the NFL level, just as Prunty's former players did.
"He's got the perfect mentor in [Giants defensive backs coach] Jerome Henderson," Prunty said. "He needs to absorb coaching and do everything coach Henderson tells him to do.
"I've seen [Henderson] at coaching clinics how ... I told Christian he just needs to be like a sponge around coach Henderson, just soak up all the knowledge he can."
Prunty also spent enough time with Angulo before 2019 to know he can succeed in the Giants defense, which is why Prunty led the effort to bring Angulo to Hampton last offseason.
Prunty was Cincinnati's assistant defensive coordinator during Angulo's first two college seasons there in 2015-16. Prunty then spent 2017 as East Carolina's defensive coordinator before taking over at Hampton in 2018.
Meanwhile, Angulo didn't see the playing time he was expecting in his fourth year at Cincinnati and decided to enter the transfer portal after the 2018 season.
"He didn't receive any playing time at Cincinnati, so once I got to Hampton, he was in the transfer portal, and I knew Christian could play," Prunty said. "So I told him we're going to play a lot of press-man this year, the same way they do in the SEC.
"Christian adapted to it. He's long, athletic and he's a very intelligent football player ... I always knew he had that ability when he came in at Cincinnati, I just don't know why he didn't get to play there."
New Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham needs a long, athletic corner to uphold press coverage assignments and has praised Angulo's natural measurables as a corner, but will have to adjust to NFL speed.
"He has size and then he can run. Right there, the ability to have some size instead of us being in mismatches, he can also help," Graham said.
"The big thing for him is the size, the speed, and his willingness to learn. Obviously, it’s going to be a transition coming up with his first year in the league. He’s been working hard and being diligent and listening to coaching and going out there and getting in condition."
Angulo will join a rookie corner class for the Giants that includes fourth-round pick Darnay Holmes, seventh-round pick Chris Williamson, and fellow undrafted free agent Jarren Williams.
At 6'2, Angulo is the tallest and longest corner on the Giants roster and possesses NFL athleticism.
During the earlier stages of the COVID-19 quarantine, Angulo participated in a virtual Pro Day to boost his draft stock and showed off a 4.49 40-yard dash time, a 40.5" vertical jump, a 10'7" broad jump and 21 reps on the bench press.
"I knew we were getting a steal when he left Cincinnati. I told his father that. I told him that his son was going to come here and he'll play in the NFL," Prunty said.
"I know it's hard playing corner, but Christian he really takes care of his body, he doesn't eat no fried foods and stuff, I believe Christian will play in the NFL for 14 years."
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