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State of Giants' secondary: What it looks like post-draft

CB Deonte Banks
CB Deonte Banks

Following a busy weekend of moves, the Giants finished the draft with a seven-man class. Of them, four play on the defensive side of the ball, including three defensive backs.

The Giants traded up in the first round Thursday night to grab Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks. The excitement in the draft room was palpable after the selection was made, evidenced by the bear hug defensive coordinator Wink Martindale was seen giving general manager Joe Schoen.

"He's a prototype from a size standpoint," Schoen told reporters Thursday night. "He's athletic. He's physical. He can run. He ran 4.32 at the Combine. He has arm length, big hands. He's been a four-year starter. He was hurt a year ago but he has played a lot of ball there at Maryland and schematically, he's a good fit. And we spent a lot of time with him. Met with him at the Combine. He's a guy that, you know, we went down to the pro day, and we spent a good amount of time with him, and again we felt comfortable with him. ... You guys know Wink's defense and what he likes, and Deonte fits that mold "to a T". He was ecstatic."

After addressing the offense with both picks on Friday, Schoen continued to bolster the secondary's depth on Saturday with the selections of Old Dominion cornerback Tre Hawkins III in the sixth round and Houston's Gervarrius Owens in the seventh.

"Tre Hawkins, we took him late in the sixth," Schoen said. "From Old Dominion corner, height, weight, and speed prospect that has high upside. He's a physical kid, not afraid to tackle. You see a trend with some of these guys that we took at that position. Good developmental prospect for Wink's defense and projects well to special teams due to his physical traits and toughness.

"Gervarrius Owens, another guy we like, a tall, long, athletic safety from the University of Houston, was out at the East-West Game. Another physical kid. Projects well to special teams and also compete for a depth role."

The three rookies join several free agent signings as the additions to the Giants' secondary. With numerous players leaving in free agency, the team's defensive backfield, led by DB coach Jerome Henderson, will have a much different feel in 2023.

Below is a look at the state of the secondary heading into 2023, but first, here's a refresher on last year's secondary:


Table inside Article
@TEN Adoree' Jackson Aaron Robinson -- Julian Love Xavier McKinney
CAR Adoree' Jackson Cor'Dale Flott Darnay Holmes Julian Love Xavier McKinney / Dane Belton
DAL Adoree' Jackson Cor'Dale Flott -- Julian Love Xavier McKinney
CHI Adoree' Jackson Aaron Robinson -- Julian Love Xavier McKinney
@GB Adoree' Jackson Fabian Moreau -- Julian Love Xavier McKinney
BAL Adoree' Jackson Fabian Moreau -- Julian Love Xavier McKinney / Dane Belton
@JAX Adoree' Jackson Fabian Moreau -- Julian Love Xavier McKinney
@SEA Adoree' Jackson Fabian Moreau Nick McCloud Julian Love Xavier McKinney
HOU Adoree' Jackson Fabian Moreau -- Julian Love Dane Belton
DET Adoree' Jackson Fabian Moreau -- Julian Love Dane Belton
@DAL Nick McCloud Cor'Dale Flott Darnay Holmes Julian Love Jason Pinnock
WAS Zyon Gilbert Fabian Moreau Nick McCloud Julian Love Tony Jefferson II
PHI Nick McCloud Fabian Moreau -- Julian Love Jason Pinnock
@WAS Nick McCloud Fabian Moreau -- Julian Love Jason Pinnock
@MIN Nick McCloud Fabian Moreau Cor'Dale Flott Julian Love Jason Pinnock
IND Nick McCloud Fabian Moreau Cor'Dale Flott Julian Love Jason Pinnock
@PHI Nick McCloud Rodarius Williams Cor'Dale Flott Dane Belton Jason Pinnock
@MIN (WC) Adoree' Jackson Fabian Moreau Darnay Holmes Julian Love Xavier McKinney
@PHI (DIV) Adoree' Jackson Fabian Moreau Darnay Holmes Julian Love Xavier McKinney

View photos of every move made by the Giants during the 2023 cycle.

The draft picks

Deonte Banks (Round 1, Pick No. 24)

College: Maryland Terrapins

The Giants moved up one slot in the first round in order to grab Banks, who brings ideal size and athleticism to the cornerback position. The 6-foot, 197-pound CB out of Maryland ran a 4.35 40-yard dash to go with his 42-inch vertical and a broad jump of 11 feet, 4 inches, earning the highest athleticism score of all cornerbacks at the 2023 NFL Combine.

After suffering a season-ending injury in the second game of the 2021 campaign, Banks played 12 games this past season and registered high marks in total tackles (38) and passes defensed (eight). He earned All-Big Ten Honorable Mention honors for his performance.

Tre Hawkins III (Round 6, Pick No. 209)

College: Old Dominion Monarchs

Hawkins began his collegiate career at Trinity Valley Community College before transferring to Old Dominion, where he played his final two seasons. He started all 13 games in 2021 and finished with 77 total tackles (56 solo), five tackles for loss, six passes defensed and one forced fumble. He followed that up with a strong senior campaign in which he had two interceptions, six passes defensed, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries to go with his 57 tackles (44 solo).

Hawkins, similar to Banks, brings good size to the secondary with his 6-foot-2 frame. While he was not at the combine, Hawkins did run a 4.39 40-yard dash at his pro day.

Gervarrius Owens (Round 7, Pick No. 254)

College: Houston Cougars

Owens put up strong performances in his final two seasons at Houston. Starting 13 games as a junior, the 6-foot, 195-pound safety recorded two interceptions, one that he returned for a touchdown, three passes defensed, four tackles for loss and 52 tackles (33 solo) on his way to being named First-Team All-AAC.

He was then voted a captain for his senior season, where he led the Cougars with 54 solo tackles. Owens finished with two forced fumbles and eight passes defensed to go with his 74 tackles, all of which were new career-highs, and was named Second-Team All-AAC.

Owens spent time at both cornerback and safety while at Houston.

The newcomers

Free agent additions

Amani Oruwariye

Previous Team: Detroit Lions

Career: 53 G, 36 GS (all 36 at CB)

Oruwariye, 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, was originally a fifth-round pick (No. 146 overall) by the Detroit Lions in the 2019 NFL Draft. He spent his first four seasons with the Lions where he played 53 games with 36 starts, all at cornerback, and registered nine interceptions, 24 pass breakups, two fumble recoveries, 173 total tackles (143 solo) and four tackles for loss.

Oruwariye put together his strongest season back in 2021, when he finished with career-highs in interceptions (six), passes defensed (11) and total tackles (57) in 14 games (all starts).

Bobby McCain

Previous Team: Washington Commanders

Career: 121 G, 87 GS (41 at CB, 45 at S, 1 at LB)

McCain is entering his ninth season in the NFL. Originally a fifth-round pick (No. 145 overall) by the Miami Dolphins, McCain played in Miami for the first six seasons of his career. The 5-foot-9, 196-pound DB recorded seven interceptions, 30 passes defensed, 254 total tackles (200 solo), four sacks, nine tackles for loss, seven quarterback hits and one forced fumble across 87 games (55 starts) for the Dolphins. McCain then spent the last two seasons with the Washington Commanders, where he played in every game and made 32 starts. The veteran had four interceptions and nine passes defensed during the 2021 campaign, both of which set new career-highs.

McCain has spent time all over the defensive backfield during his NFL career, but has primarily lined up at safety over the last few seasons.

Leonard Johnson

Previous Team: N/A

Career: N/A

This will be Johnson's first experience in the NFL as the 6-foot, 194-pound corner tore his ACL while preparing for the 2022 NFL Draft, which led to him going undrafted and unsigned as he recovered from the knee injury.

Johnson missed only one game during his time at Duke, playing 47 career contests with 39 starts. He finished his collegiate career with 165 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, two sacks, six interceptions, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 17 pass breakups and two quarterback hurries.

Prior to his injury, Johnson participated at Duke's pro day where he ran a 4.54 40-yard dash and registered a vertical jump of 33.0 and broad jump of 10.5.

The returning defensive backs

Adoree' Jackson

Career: 69 G, 63 GS (all 63 at CB)

A free agent signing during the 2021 offseason, Jackson has played 23 games for the Giants over the last two years. He has 113 total tackles (87 solo) along with 15 passes defensed, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and three tackles for loss. A knee injury suffered while returning a punt limited Jackson to 10 games last season, his first as the team's No. 1 cornerback, but the 27-year-old played well in his first season playing in Martindale's defense.

Originally a first-round pick (No. 18 overall) of the Titans, Jackson played 46 games with 41 starts for Tennessee across four seasons.

Cor'Dale Flott

Career: 11 G, 6 GS (all 6 at CB)

A third-round pick (No. 81 overall) in the 2022 NFL Draft, Flott played 11 games with six starts as a rookie last season. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound corner finished with 26 tackles (15 solo), two passes defensed and one forced fumble. He saw his most action in the regular season finale against the Eagles where he played all but one defensive snap. Flott surrendered just three receptions for 29 yards on seven targets that game, earning a passer rating against of 55.1.

Aaron Robinson

Career: 11 G, 4 GS (all 4 at CB)

Injuries have derailed the start of Robinson's career as he's played a total of 11 games with four starts since being drafted in the third-round (No. 71 overall) of the 2021 draft. But when he's been on the field, the 6-foot-1, 193-pound corner has played well. Robinson has broken up four passes in his 11 career games, and in two games last year, he allowed just two receptions for 28 yards on five targets (58.8 passer rating against).

Darnay Holmes

Career: 38 G, 11 GS (9 at CB, 2 at NB)

A fourth-round pick (No. 110 overall) in the 2020 NFL Draft, Holmes has played 38 games with 11 starts over the last three seasons. He played a career-high 15 games in 2022 and recorded new high marks in tackles (38), tackles for loss (two) and passes defensed (eight). The 5-foot-10, 195-pound corner has played primarily in the slot since being drafted by the Giants.

Nick McCloud

Career: 16 G, 8 GS (7 at CB, 1 at NB)

After going undrafted in 2021, McCloud saw limited action in two games with the Bengals as a rookie. He then landed back with the Bills, who he spent the last two training camps with, before being waived at the end of camp. The Giants claimed McCloud off waivers prior to the start of the season, and the 6-foot-1, 190-pound corner went on to play a large role in the secondary.

McCloud played 14 games with eight starts, racking up 43 tackles (35 solo), 1.5 sacks, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and seven pass breakups as he spent time both in the slot and outside.

Rodarius Williams

Career: 8 G, 1 GS (1 at CB)

Originally a sixth-round pick (No. 201 overall) by the Giants in 2021, Williams has played eight games with one start over the last two seasons. In three games last year, the 6-foot, 195-pound corner registered 15 solo tackles, one interception and two passes defensed. Williams played in five games as a rookie before suffering a torn ACL and missing the remainder of the season.

Zyon Gilbert

Career: 3 G, 1 GS (1 at CB)

Gilbert signed with the Giants as an undrafted free agent last year, following a strong collegiate career at Florida Atlantic where he finished as the school's all-time leader in games played (57). While spending most of the season on the practice squad, Gilbert ended up playing in three games with one start. He recorded 14 tackles (10 solo) and one sack in limited action.

Xavier McKinney

Career: 32 G, 29 GS (28 at S, 1 at CB)

McKinney has played 32 games with 29 starts since being the team's second-round pick (No. 36 overall) in 2020. In his second season, the 6-foot, 201-pound safety played all 17 games (16 starts) and registered 93 tackles (59 solo), 10 passes defensed and five interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. After getting his 2022 campaign off to a strong start, McKinney suffered a hand injury during the team's bye week which forced him to miss seven games in the second half of the season. He finished the year with 45 tackles (29 solo), one sack, two tackles for loss, five passes defensed and one forced fumble in nine games. McKinney played well in the postseason as he picked up 16 tackles (eight solo), one sack, one forced fumble and two pass breakups in the two games.

Dane Belton

Career: 15 G, 5 GS (all 5 at S)

An injury suffered during training camp caused Belton to miss the season opener, but the rookie made a splash in his NFL debut in Week 2. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound safety recovered a fumble on the very first play of the game against the Panthers and never looked back. Belton, a fourth-round pick (No. 114 overall), ended up playing 15 games with five starts and recorded 31 tackles (24 solo), one tackle for loss, two interceptions, three pass breakups and two fumble recoveries. He finished with a passer rating against of 56.6.

Jason Pinnock

Career: 26 G, 7 GS (all 7 at S)

Pinnock was originally a fifth-round pick (No. 175 overall) of the Jets in 2021. The 6-foot, 205-pound safety played 12 games with two starts as a rookie and forced two fumbles. Pinnock was waived at the end of training camp last year, which led to the Giants claiming him prior to the start of the season. He went on to play 14 games with five starts, primarily at safety, and recorded 41 tackles (34 solo), 1.5 sacks, four quarterback hits, three passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Trenton Thompson

Career: 1 G

Signed as a rookie free agent last season, Thompson appeared in one game for the Giants and played 12 snaps on special teams while spending the rest of the season on the practice squad. He played in 57 games with 31 starts in seasons at San Diego State, where he was named First-Team All-Mountain West in 2021.

Terrell Burgess

Career: 31 G, 3 GS (all 3 at S)

Burgess was originally selected in the third round (No. 104 overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Rams. He played in 30 games with three starts for Los Angeles across three seasons before being waived last November. The Giants signed the 5-foot-11, 202-pound safety to the practice squad a few days later. Burgess ended up appearing in one game for the Giants, playing five snaps on special teams.

The departures

Julian Love

New Team: Seattle Seahawks

Career: 64 G, 32 GS (31 at S, 1 at CB)

Love signed with the Seahawks after spending his first four seasons with the Giants. Selected in the fourth round (No. 108 overall) in 2019, Love played 64 games with 32 starts over the last four years. He registered a total of 291 tackles (192 solo), five interceptions, 18 passes defensed, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, 1.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and four quarterback hits. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound safety was voted a team captain for the first time in 2022.

Fabian Moreau

New Team: N/A

Career: 90 G, 45 GS (44 at CB, 1 at S)

The Giants signed Moreau to the practice squad just days before the start of the 2022 campaign. He wound up signing to the active roster, where he played 14 games with 11 starts and finished with 66 tackles (50 solo) and 10 passes defensed. Moreau was a third-round pick by the Commanders back in 2017. After four seasons in Washington, the veteran corner spent the 2021 season with the Falcons and last year's training camp with the Texans before ending up with the Giants.

Tony Jefferson

New Team: N/A

Career: 113 G, 67 GS (All 67 at S)

Similar to Moreau, Jefferson was signed to the practice squad just prior to the start of the 2022 season. After being elevated for the first two games of the season, the veteran safety was eventually promoted to the active roster. He played in nine games with one start and recorded 23 tackles (16 solo) and one pass breakup. Prior to signing with the Giants, Jefferson spent time with the Cardinals (2013-16), Ravens (2017-19), 49ers (2021), and Ravens (2021) after going undrafted in 2013.

Landon Collins

New Team: N/A

Career: 100 G, 95 GS (94 at S, 1 at WLB)

Collins returned for his second stint with the Giants last season. Originally a second-round pick (No. 33 overall) by the Giants in 2015, Collins made three Pro Bowls in his first four years. He then signed with the Commanders, where he spent three seasons. Collins was a free agent before joining the Giants' practiced squad in early October. Over the course of the season, he played six games with one start and registered 15 tackles (seven solo), one sack, one interception (which he returned for a touchdown) and two pass breakups. Collins lined up all over the field in his limited action with the Giants, including time at inside linebacker.

Step into the new draft room as the Giants make their picks for the 2023 class.