When it comes to his incoming veteran players, new Giants head coach Joe Judge isn’t looking for football players and not hand-holders.
But there’s nothing wrong with the veterans offering a tip or two that helps them play faster.
Such is the position that new Giants cornerback James Bradberry finds himself in. The 26-year-old signed a three-year deal with the Giants, who on Friday announced the signing as official.
Bradberry is walking into a situation where youth is overflowing out the door of the Giants' defensive backs room.
He isn’t that much older than his new teammates, but in terms of experience, he’s ancient, having played in 2,449 coverage snaps alone in his four NFL seasons thus far.
Before Bradberry signed, the most experienced of the Giants' cornerback group was second-year player DeAndre Baker, whose 552 coverage snaps last year tops those of the Giants’ next two leading cornerbacks (Grant Haley and Corey Ballentine) combined.
Bradberry will, of course, have his specific role in the Giants defense to worry about, be it man or zone, traveling with the opponent’s top receiver or playing one side. Whatever he’s asked to do, he said, doesn’t matter much to him as he is open-minded.
But in addition to contributing on the field, he is open to helping his younger teammates continue in their respective development so that perhaps one day they, like Bradberry will be able to earn a second NFL contract.
“In order to improve you have to take knowledge and apply it on the field,” Bradberry told reporters during a conference call Friday. “That’s what I want to do for the younger guys, I want to give them knowledge and hopefully they can apply it on the field."
Bradberry is no stranger to playing the role of big brother to younger teammates, most notably Panthers third-year cornerback Donte Jackson, Carolina’s second-round pick in 2018.
“When Donte Jackson came in, of course, he was already an elite athlete, so I didn't really have to coach him up on that,” Bradberry said.
But while most college corners excel in press coverage, many find playing zone the most significant adjustment, which is an area where Bradberry was able to offer assistance to his now-former teammate.
"I was just trying to help him just learn how to break down film and watch film, and make sure I stayed on top of him about watching tape because that’s how you anticipate routes, within film coverage," Bradberry said.
"I feel like he improved in that going into his second year. Of course, he had a standout rookie year. I feel like that was all a tribute to his talents. I helped out a little bit here and there."
That knowledge of what to look for in zone coverage should prove to be huge among the Giants young corners, all of whom finished with an NFL Rating of 104.2 or higher in both man and zone, had their struggles in the latter, the Giants pass defense finishing 28th in the league after allowing an average of 264 yards per game.
Bradberry’s approach toward being a mentor aligns with what Judge outlined at the combine last month.
“You don't sign older players thinking this guy is going to teach the younger player how to be a pro,” he said.
“The way they can help that young player develop is that maybe their experience with communication
Just like what Bradberry intends to contribute once he gets a chance to begin working with his new teammates.