Rookie CB Love adds versatility to defense

When the second day of the NFL Draft ends, front office members go home and have a night to think about what players they want to target in the fourth round. That’s a lot of time for front offices to consider their options and focus in on a particular player. 

The Giants waited only five selections before they selected sixth in the round, 108th overall, and there was still a player sitting there whom many analysts considered as a potential second-round pick: Notre Dame cornerback Julian Love.

Love was a versatile player for the Irish, playing outside and in the slot. It is something he will be asked to do with the Giants, along with trying his hand at the free safety position. Adjusting to the NFL can be tough for a rookie learning one position, but Love will be learning three.

“It’s definitely tough, but that’s part of the journey and what makes football fun,” Love said. “It’s pieces to a puzzle and you’re putting it all together and then you get it and it is the best feeling. Right now I am putting the pieces to the puzzle together and it’s been great so far. I just want to do whatever I can to help this team win.”

The NFL adjustment for Love doesn’t just come in trying to learn the playbook; it also comes from the increased competition on the field.

“I think you’re going against the best of the best across the board,” Love said. “You have guys who may not be the most athletic but they’re smart which is why they have been around a long time and vice versa. Just being able to complete with all types of athletes is different and getting the playbook down, it’s much wider, that’s part of the excitement and I’m ready to take the next step and learn even more.”

Love has lined up mostly in the slot during spring practice, and has had to match up with the Giants’ top two wide receivers, Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard, on certain reps.

“I’ve learned that they’re the real deal,” Love said. “A lot of pride for Golden Tate, a fellow Notre Dame guy. Both of them, it can be a slant and they’ll run it 20 different ways, the same route. They’re students of the game still and smart, so being able to predict an play the situation has been helpful at times and they’re just two of the best and I’m happy to be practicing with them.”

Love will join a cornerback room led by veteran Janoris Jenkins, but it is filled with a lot of other young cornerbacks, five of whom have never played in a NFL game. The group includes 2019 first-round pick DeAndre Baker, sixth-round pick Corey Ballentine, and 2018 supplemental pick Sam Beal.

While all the youngsters will be looking to Jenkins and the other veterans for support, they will also be depending on one other to help learn the defense together.

“I think when everyone is playing and having fun, making mistakes even, you build on that,” Love said. “So having a lot of young guys and a few older guys has been tremendous so far. You are learning nonstop from the best of the best so we are definitely building and that’s what you want to see early on.”

The Giants are going to rely on young, inexperienced cornerbacks this season. There aren’t enough other options on the roster to avoid it. It will be on Love, and the other young cornerbacks, to learn and develop quickly to make the Giants pass defense effective early in the season.

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