We wrap up of 2015 Keep ‘em / Dump ‘em Reader Poll with the cornerbacks.
2015 in Review. The question is as debatable as “which came first, the chicken or the egg?”
In terms of the Giants cornerbacks, was the subpar showing by everyone not named Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie a result of the talent/coaching or the result of a missing pass rush?
One poll participant thinks it’s the latter. “A pass rush of any kind makes some of these guys better by a lot. This is a group that also needs the coaches to look at film over the winter and make some decisions before draft day. The guys on the back-end are the ones hardest to evaluate with the Molasses package the G-men featured on the front four.”
We personally believe that this unit is going to have more of a different look than the safeties and linebackers.
Yes, you read that correctly. Whereas we think the linebackers and safeties might have two new faces a piece on their respective units, we suspect the cornerback position is going to have at least three, including one new starter if Prince Amukamara moves on, as we think might be the case.
Let’s go ahead and jump into the detail.
The lone Pro Bowler of the Giants cornerbacks—make that the defense—Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie—finished with the sixth-best NFL Rating among cornerbacks (62.3 per Pro Football Focus), just behind Josh Norman, Trumaine Johnson, Darrelle Revis, Adam Jones and Patrick Peterson.
Perhaps the most admirable thing about Rodgers-Cromartie is his grit. This is a player who has dealt with numerous nicks and bruises that might have sent some guys to the inactive list, and yet Rodgers-Cromartie has continuously gutted out his ailments, even though at times he’d have to come out of the game. Simply put, Rodgers-Cromartie has been one of the Giants’ best free-agent investments in the last three years.
One of the hot debates that is sure to swirl around the Giants over the next several weeks is what to do with soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Prince Amukamara, the team’s first-round pick in 2011 who save for one season, has been unable to stay on the field for 16 games.
We think to come to a logical conclusion, one has to look at Amukamara’s entire body of work. And here are the numbers, per Pro Football Focus.
As a run defender, Amukamara has played 1,267 run snaps and has made 63 stops for zero or negative yardage with 17 missed tackles (including six missed tackles this past season, tying his career high in 2012). That comes to about slightly more than four percent of Amukamara’s run defense plays being impact ones.
In coverage, Amukamara allowed three touchdowns this year, tying Jayron Hosley, Trumaine McBride and Trevin Wade for most on the Giants (Rodgers-Cromartie gave up one). And Amukamara wasn’t used so much as a pass rusher, at least not last year.
The bottom line with Amukamara is that the skills are there, but the consistency has not been there, injuries or no injuries. Further, Amukamara hasn’t reached that elite status that he’s been chasing since he entered the NFL.
Okay, so what to do with him?
Simply put, we agree with the poll participant who wrote, “Amukamara has been good, but not good enough to be granted a multi-year extension being paid $7-9 million annually which he’ll receive in the open market. He shouldn’t return.”
Last season, Amukamara earned close to $7 million thanks to the option year on his rookie deal. Logic would seem to dictate that he’s going to seek a deal paying him on average at least $7 million.
If we’re the Giants, we wouldn’t make that investment, not based on his healthy history and the lack of consistency.
Yes, letting Amukamara walk creates another hole on the defense, but we think there are options to address that hole in both free agency and the draft, options that would represent better value.
One player we would definitely let walk without a shadow of a regret is Jayron Hosley, the 2012 third-round draft pick who was supposed to evolve into the team’s slot cornerback.
Plagued by injuries earlier in his career, Hosley just has not been able to put together any kind of consistency. In two seasons now he’s ended up as a healthy scratch in some of the games, a rather damning statement.
If Hosley, who back in the summer looked as though he might have finally “gotten it” couldn’t consistently earn a game-day uniform, it’s time to move on, as the Giants continue to wipe the slate clean of that disappointing 2012 draft class.
Another player from whom we’d move on is Trumaine McBride, who will be an unrestricted free agent.
While we like how McBride plays his game, the bottom line is he’s never going to be able to match up well against taller receivers.
Further, we don’t think McBride played as well in 2015 as he did two seasons ago. It’s time to get younger at the cornerback position, and McBride unfortunately doesn’t fit that criteria either.
Trevin Wade ended up being the McBride of 2015, meaning he was a street free agent who initially looked like camp fodder, but who ended up playing well enough to earn a roster spot.
We liked Wade as a blitzer and in run support; on coverage, he had his share of hiccups, but overall the damage done against him as far as scoring as minimal.
We wouldn’t be surprised if he starts out as the nickel back for the Giants in 2016, though by no means would we set his name in stone for that position.