EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Logan Ryan believes Adoree' Jackson is the final piece to what could be a super secondary for the Giants.
"You need to be an alpha in your self-belief and we're going to put out a talented secondary," Ryan said. "We have a lot of confidence in our secondary. But we all have to play together, we all have to use our skillsets together and sacrifice for one another. It's going to take practice and it's going to take preparation to see how it all works together."
But with the addition this week of Jackson – the 18th overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft – the Giants seem to have the pieces to field a defensive backfield that can compare favorably with any in the NFL. Jackson will team with Pro Bowler James Bradberry to give the Giants a pair of cornerbacks that will leave opposing wide receivers confused as to which side they would prefer to line up. Ryan and Jabrill Peppers give the Giants a strong safety tandem. Second-year pros Xavier McKinney and Darnay Holmes are versatile players who can play in the slot. Julian Love and Isaac Yiadom are among the reserves who will compete for playing time. And the Giants still have opportunities, including the draft, to add more skilled defensive backs.
Ryan's belief that Jackson's presence will elevate the status of the secondary is rooted not only in the newcomer's talent, but in familiarity. The two defensive backs were Tennessee Titans teammates for three seasons, when Ryan was an eyewitness to what makes the 25-year-old Jackson special.
"He has elite speed," Ryan said. "There are a lot of guys that run fast 40s, but he knows how to play with it as well. He gives you the ability to match up with the faster receivers in the league. That allows your defense to do a lot of things. You don't worry about him getting beat deep too often. He can hold his own with the true speedsters in this league.
"We went through a playoff run in Tennessee and he was matching up with Tyreek Hill a good bit, he matched up against Hollywood (Marquise) Brown in Baltimore, and when we played the Patriots he was matched up against Phillip Dorsett. Those are all legit 4.2 guys and Adoree' takes those matchups on and he handles them. That allows your defense to not worry about that speed as much. Very few corners on the planet have that skillset. He's a young football player and he's a proven football player as well, because he doesn't just run fast. He's an elite corner, because he has some things that a lot of corners don't have – that elite track speed."
Ryan played his first four NFL seasons with New England and helped the Patriots win two Super Bowls before signing with Tennessee as a free agent on March 11, 2017. Six weeks later, Jackson joined him in Nashville as the Titans' first-round draft choice.
"We came in together and started every game next to each other," Ryan said. "We played in many battles together. We played in the AFC Championship Game, played in playoff games, played in preseason games. I love everything about him. He's a really good friend and I'm happy he ended up here, because I know what he brings to the table and he'll be a huge help for us."
When Jackson was released by the Titans last week the first person to check in with him was Ryan.
"It's a good feeling, it just shows you what type of guy he is and just wanting to see how I was doing personally, not even talking football, just checking up on me," Jackson said. "Just to be back reunited playing football with him, I'm just excited because he's a smart guy, he's a good guy and I just speak highly of him because he did a lot for me in Tennessee and I'm just thankful for him."
Ryan's primary motive for calling was to monitor the wellbeing of his friend after the sudden loss of his job. While doing that, why not raise the possibility of coming to the Giants?
"If there was an opportunity to make it happen, I wanted to make it happen right away," Ryan said. "I would love for him to come here; I told him that. Those chips have to align, though. The organization has to feel the same way, the money has to make sense. It's not as easy as people think to just recruit guys. The pieces of the puzzle have to fit. But it looked like it was a good fit for both sides and it made a lot of sense.
"I have a lot of friendships in the league, but Adoree' is a special one. I reached out to make sure he was okay, to make sure he's doing well. I've been in a situation where I played for a franchise and I thought it was a match made in heaven and they didn't think so. I had to pack up, take my talents elsewhere and fell in love with the Giants. I understood where he was at and wanted to reach out to him personally, make sure he's good. I really hope it works out for Adoree', because we're getting a great player and a great person."
Jackson's acquisition is one transaction in a busy and productive Giants offseason that includes re-signing defensive lineman Leonard Williams, adding the best free agent wide receiver in Kenny Golladay and bringing in important pieces like two-time Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph, running back Devontae Booker, defensive end Ifeadi Odenigbo and linebackers Reggie Ragland and Ryan Anderson.
"Seeing the front office go get the talented players, seeing them go get some of the best players at their position and bringing them in, it shows you they're serious about winning, it shows you they're willing to put talent in the locker room," Ryan said. "It's up to us as players to bring it all together and to play well together. I think it should be exciting for the fan base. I know it's exciting for the locker room. I just can't wait to see what those practices are going to look like, with Golladay going against Adoree' Jackson and Bradberry and Shep (Sterling Shepard) and (Darius) Slayton and Saquon back. You have a lot of talent there at the skill positions. I can't wait to battle those guys, because I feel like championship teams are born in practice. I encourage all the fans to come to training camp if it's open and I encourage them to pack the stadium, because I think we're going to have a talented team out there that's pretty hungry."
The Giants have signed free agent cornerback Adoree' Jackson.