When Cor'Dale Flott and Wan'Dale Robinson talk about each other, it isn't just empty pleasantries between college rivals turned NFL teammates. It's genuine.
"There were a couple times I came over to the sideline to my coach, and I said, 'It's like [Flott] knows what I'm running a couple times,'" the Kentucky receiver recalled of the LSU cornerback. "That was really the only guy I felt like that against."
Conversely, the position coach on the other sideline was none other than former Giants cornerback Corey Raymond, who groomed Flott during a career with the Tigers that began with a national championship and ended with a third-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Now on the recruiting trail for the University of Florida – "I'm trying to find another guy like Cor'Dale Flott" – Raymond recently joined the Giants Huddle podcast to break down the former standout from LSU.
"Him being a smart player allowed him to do different things," said Raymond, who was hired as Florida's assistant head coach/cornerbacks this off-season after a decade with LSU, his alma mater. "He picks up defenses well. He understands a lot of different things that are happening out there. He has great instincts. He has an understanding of the game. He has all those attributes that are going to help him."
He also had high praise for Robinson, the Giants' second-round draft choice who had eight catches for 60 yards and a touchdown against LSU in 2021.
"His space is his biggest threat to people because of his quickness and his ability to break tackles," Raymond said. "I thought he was a really good player, and I liked the way they used him. They used him in the right way, and that's why he was able to do the things he did."
A two-year starter, Flott became a versatile player for the Tigers, lining up at cornerback, nickel, and safety during career. When Flott was drafted, Giants general manager Joe Schoen said Flott "ideally" will play inside but also has the ability to play outside at the NFL level.
"He has height, and he does have length," Schoen said of the 6-foot-1 corner with 30-inch arms. "And again, the kid is 20 years old … so [he's] still young, still developing. Three-year guy at LSU that played in a really talented backfield and a good conference. We're excited. He's got really good movement skills to play inside, but with the size and length, can play outside as well."
"Length makes it a harder throw for quarterbacks," said Raymond, who spent three of his six NFL seasons playing for the Giants from 1992-94. "The ball has to be perfect because of the long arms, the body position. … The thing that helps Cor'Dale, even though he's a long and tall, he's a very twitchy guy. So, he can play like he's a 5-8 guy, 5-9 guy just because of his quickness and everything. But having size, that makes it an even better attribute being a twitchy person."
The ability to play big and small makes him an intriguing addition to the Giants' cornerback room, where opportunities abound following the release of veteran James Bradberry. Adoree' Jackson presumptively moved up to the top spot, but the rest of the depth chart will shake itself out this summer at training camp.
Thus, Flott could be looking at a sizable role in just his first season.
"I think he'll be able to do it just because of coming from the conference we're playing in," Raymond said of the SEC, home of the past three national champions. "He had the heart because he went against NFL guys in practice every day, plus every week [you're playing against maybe] not a first-rounder but it's a draftable guy. He's been in the fire, and that's what's going to help him. He'll be able to adjust to the speed of the game. It'll get him going faster."
Flott can also grow into a leader to help fill the void created by the departures of Bradberry and veteran safeties Logan Ryan and Jabrill Peppers.
"We had some guys get hurt that were the leaders and then all of a sudden he had to become a leader," Raymond said. "He would be on guys if they weren't practicing right, or he'll hold himself accountable as well if he wasn't practicing right. That's when I saw the maturity in him. He would get on guys and be like, 'Man, come on, let's go, let's get better.' He started doing those things, and you saw the progression from there."
Flott isn't the only player on the roster mentored by Raymond. The Giants signed undrafted rookie cornerback Darren Evans, who transferred to LSU from Nicholls State University, the longtime site of the Manning Passing Academy in Louisiana.
So, what sets him apart?
"His length and speed," Raymond said of the 6-foot-3 Evans. "He's a taller guy, but he has length and speed. I think that was the best thing for him to do was to come to us. So now he understood how to get into some big games and now his transition is going to be easier for him. He played well for us. He worked hard in the off-season. I think the sky is the limit for him."
Raymond empathizes with the tough but doable journey ahead for Evans. Despite being a three-year starter in the secondary for the Tigers from 1989-91, Raymond went undrafted before starting his NFL career with the Giants and ending with the Lions.
"The thing is studying," Raymond said. "Study your playbook so whenever you're out there you know what to do. That's the biggest thing. Go in there and practice hard and take the coaching. Sometimes you have a fire because sometimes guys get drafted that are not better than you. And that's the thing, I think he'll have that fire. He's seen guys go to other places that weren't better than him, so it's just motivation."
As every NFL coach will say, it's not about how you got here … it's about what you do now that you're here.
And here is one of the largest – and toughest – markets in the world.
"I just told them it's a challenging thing being in New York," Raymond said. "You've got to be ready to go. You've got to be tough-minded to be in New York. That's one of the things I talked to them [about]. … Put your head down and work like you've never worked before."
View photos of the the Giants' 2022 draft class on the practice field during spring workouts.