Shaun O'Hara names James Bradberry NFL's most underappreciated CB
The Giants made several big splashes in free agency last year, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Linebacker Blake Martinez and safety Logan Ryan both made their impact on Big Blue's defense in 2020, bringing some veteran presence to a relatively young group.
And then there's James Bradberry, who enjoyed quite the successful first season with the Giants.
Super Bowl champion and former Giants great Shaun O'Hara was recently a guest host on NFL Network's 'Good Morning Football.' The crew was discussing the most underappreciated cornerback in the NFL, and for O'Hara, the choice was simple.
"Sometimes cornerbacks are like offensive linemen; if you don't hear much about them, then they're probably doing a good job," O'Hara said on NFL Network's morning show. "So this is perfect right here... I'm going with James Bradberry here, the corner from the New York Giants. They picked him up in free agency from the Carolina Panthers. Of course, Dave Gettleman knew who he was because he drafted him down in Carolina. But when you look at what James Bradberry has done for the New York Giants since he showed up, what he has meant to that defense, which I think is the best secondary in the entire division, arguably possibly in the entire NFL, and James Bradberry has been the stalwart outside.
"He's not scared to cover your number one receiver. You want to ask him to travel and play man to man anywhere on the field, he'll do it. You want him to play some cover three zone, no problem. 18 pass breakups last year, second-most in the NFL. James Bradberry is constantly making big tackles, knocking the ball down, taking out your number one receiver. He just made the Pro Bowl last year, I think it was his first one. I think he's set to make a few more the next couple of years, too."
The 27-year-old cornerback started 15 games and was on the field for at least 96 percent of defensive snaps in each one. The only game he missed was due to his placement on the Reserve/COVID-19 list after he was deemed to be a high-risk, close contact of an individual who tested positive.
Bradberry was a dominant force in Big Blue's secondary. The fifth-year corner matched his previous career-high of three interceptions, while sitting new personal bests with two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and 18 passes defensed, just two behind Miami's Xavier Howard for the league lead. He earned his first Pro Bowl selection in 2020.
Bradberry's consistency played a pivotal role in the defense's success. Big Blue finished the year ranked ninth in points allowed and 12th in yards allowed, while their 22 passing touchdowns surrendered tied for the fifth-fewest in the league.
Kadarius Toney can be 'chess piece' for Daniel Jones
David Morris has trained Eli Manning and Daniel Jones. In an alternate universe, he may have worked with a third Giants quarterback – Kadarius Toney.
"He's told me Kadarius can throw it over 70 [yards] from his feet," Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy said on the Giants Huddle podcast about the founder of the Alabama-based QB Country. "I don't know about from the knee, but he said, he's like, 'Jim, I've really thought that if someone had given Kadarius a chance to play quarterback, he could have ended up being Lamar Jackson."
In the not too distant past, the wide receiver, recently selected by the Giants in the first round, finished his senior season at Blount High School with 2,894 yards and 32 touchdowns through the air in addition to 894 yards and 15 scores on the ground. Toney grew up in the shadow of the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., where Nagy has heard all the tall tales. They followed him to college in Gainesville, Fla.
"He was the most dynamic player on the field then," said Nagy, who was a scout for the Seattle Seahawks at the time when Toney was a true freshman at the University of Florida. "And this was a receiver group that had Van Jefferson and Tyrie Cleveland and Freddie Swain – all these guys that are playing in the NFL, so it's not like it was a group devoid of talent. I've been scouting Kadarius a long time."
Their paths crossed again at the annual all-star game for the nation's top outgoing seniors. A total of 106 picks, or 41 percent of the 2021 draft class, participated in the Senior Bowl. That rate was even greater for the Giants as four players – Toney, linebacker Elerson Smith (fourth round), and cornerbacks Aaron Robinson (third) and Rodarius Williams (sixth) – in their six-man draft class accepted invites to Mobile in January.
Toney "really put on a show" and was voted by the defensive backs as the top wide receiver on the American Team during the week of practices.
"He's a phenomenal athlete," Nagy said. "I thought he was the best change-of-direction athlete in the draft. I thought he was the second-most dynamic player in the draft behind Jaylen Waddle at Alabama, and that's pretty high praise because Jaylen's elite. Jaylen is going to be a great pro. It was a great pick for the Giants. I know that [Giants general manager] Dave Gettleman doesn't typically trade back, so when he traded back and then to get Kadarius, I thought that was great to stockpile picks for next year. … I really felt that Dave nailed the draft this year. I thought he did as good a job as anybody in the league at maneuvering around and adding pieces."
View New York Giants 2021 roster in photos
The Giants have made numerous moves this offseason, revamping the roster ahead of the 2021 season.
Check out the gallery below to view the entire Giants roster in photos.
View photos of the New York Giants' active 53-man roster as it currently stands.