It was an interesting first week of free agency for the New York Giants and their general manager Joe Schoen.
He made a big splash in signing free agent linebacker Bobby Okereke to a four-year $40 million contract. But the biggest blockbuster move that Schoen made last week was trading a third-round pick for Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller. New York now has one of the best tight ends in the game, opening up the offense and helping maximize Daniel Jones‘s potential.
The Giants added another new target for Jones to throw to by adding wide receiver Parris Campbell to a one-year $3 million deal.
Aside from acquiring Okereke, Waller, and Campbell, Schoen emphasized re-signing his own free agents, particularly at the receiver position, in bringing back Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton.
With most of the receiving corps back from a season ago, it’s clear that Schoen has a higher opinion of the receiving corps than some outside the organization. Now as the unit enters year two of Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka’s offense, there are reasons to be optimistic for the passing offense to be vastly better than it was a season ago when it averaged 185 yards a game.
Prior to reaching deals with Shepard, Slayton, and Campbell, it was almost a foregone conclusion that Big Blue would take a receiver early on, possibly even in the first round of next month’s draft. New York may still decide to take a wideout with their first pick, but it’s no longer a necessity that they do.
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With the addition of Waller, the Giants have a legit number-one receiving option that defenses will have to scheme for. He’ll be the focal point of the passing game, and New York’s playcalling this season could mirror what the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense did last year as Travis Kelce had 51 more targets (152 targets) than the next pass-catcher Juju Smith-Schuster (101 targets).
So with one area of the team already addressed, Schoen needs to turn his attention to another area of the team that was a weakness last season, and that’s the cornerback position.
In defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s blitz-heavy scheme, it’s imperative to have corners that are solid in man-to-man coverage. Aside from corner Adoree’ Jackson, there wasn’t another player that you had faith in that could win his one-on-one battles on the outside a season ago.
As of right now, the team has not addressed the cornerback position in free agency, so one would assume they intend to address this early in the draft.
Fortunately for New York, there are two corners that could still be on the board when they’re on the clock with the 25th pick, and they are Penn State’s Joey Porter Jr., and Maryland’s Deonte Banks.
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Two first-round options for New York Giants
Porter played four years for the Penn State Nittany Lions and has football in his blood as his father Joey Sr, played linebacker for 13 seasons in the NFL (1999-2011). The 6-foot-2, 195-pound corner has good speed, plays with physicality, and does not shy away from contact. He would be a good fit in Martindale’s scheme.
In four years at Penn State, he registered 113 tackles, had 20 pass deflections, and one sack. The one knock on Porter is that he only had one interception in 34 collegiate games.
Banks also played four years for the University of Maryland, and at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, he has all of the physical attributes that you want in a corner in today’s NFL. After a shoulder injury cut short his junior season to just two games, he appeared in 12 games as a senior, had 38 tackles, and was credited with eight pass deflections, one interception, and a half a sack.
The number of games that both Porter Jr. and Banks played in college will have them as ready as can be for the NFL game. With the Dallas Cowboys trading for Brandin Cooks, it will be an even bigger priority for New York to upgrade the cornerback position.
The Giants haven’t defeated a Cowboys team led by quarterback Dak Prescott since 2016. That streak will continue unless they can acquire quality corners to slow down the Cowboys’ passing game. Drafting either Porter Jr. or Banks would be a great first step in accomplishing that goal.
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