The saga of New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker’s alleged armed robbery is far from over, but it’s looking like the Giants are already over it.
Last Friday, the Daily News’ Pat Leonard reported new evidence suggesting Baker and fellow defendant Quinton Dunbar paid off witnesses. He then reported “unnamed Giants sources” do not expect Baker to remain with the team. If the Giants release Baker following this latest development, they’ll have a major hole to fill in their defense.
The 2019 first-round pick disappointed his rookie season, but the Giants were counting on him to start opposite free-agent signing James Bradberry in 2020. Luckily, they’ve invested a lot of draft capital in the secondary for the last few years. Big Blue has enough young talent to create a healthy competition for that second cornerback spot. Here are the candidates to start should Baker be out the door.
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Favorite – Sam Beal
The Giants spent a third-round pick to take Beal out of Western Michigan in the 2018 NFL Supplemental Draft. Many thought he was a first or second-round talent, so he was expected to compete for playing time right away. Unfortunately, shoulder and hamstring injuries limited him to just six games and three starts his first two NFL seasons. At 6’1 with 31-inch arms, he has the measurables to be a quality boundary corner. Beal winning the job would be ideal for the Giants, as they could replace Baker without rearranging the rest of their secondary.
Contender – Julian Love
Love was considered a steal when the Giants nabbed him in the fourth round of the 2019 draft. The Notre Dame alum didn’t see the field much early last year, as he was getting cross-trained at safety. Love played well when he got the chance, starting the final five games filling in for the injured Jabrill Peppers. Pro Football Focus even named him the Giants most underrated player. Love is supposed to play a safety/slot role, so moving him to outside corner would create another hole to fill. But if Love proves himself the best man to replace Baker, that’s a problem the Giants will happily accept.
Dark Horse – Corey Ballentine
The sixth-round pick out of Washburn had few expectations as a rookie, especially after getting wounded in a post-draft shooting that killed his friend and college teammate. Ballentine still managed to turn heads in the preseason with some impressive play. He struggled in the regular season, however, often forced into the slot corner role that doesn’t suit his skill set. Ballentine still possesses the speed and length to be an NFL cover-man. Much like Beal, him getting the job would allow the Giants to keep the rest of their ducks in a row.
Super Sleeper – Darnay Holmes
You know what they say about best laid plans. For New York, the plan was for the fourth-round rookie to immediately compete to be the starting slot corner, a position the Giants have had trouble filling in recent years. Since Holmes played his entire career at UCLA as an outside corner, he could stick there with Baker’s release. Holmes’ lack of size and length make him less than ideal to play outside, but his quickness and football IQ could make up for those deficiencies. Holmes has already earned praise from high places, so don’t be shocked if he’s starting come week one.