James Bradberry Has Exceeded Expectations

James Bradberry

The New York Giants have turned their defense from the team’s biggest weakness to its greatest strength in just one offseason. This was largely due to free agent signings, and none bigger than James Bradberry. The 27-year-old cornerback was brought in to shut down elite wide receivers and has exceeded all expectations through five weeks.

James Bradberry Defying Lofty Expectations

He has racked up 17 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble, and a league-leading nine passes defended. By the metrics of Pro Football Focus, Bradberry ranks second in cornerback play overall, and third in coverage. He has been able to completely lock down some of the league’s most dominant wide receivers and is performing at an All-Pro level. Below are statistics from two of Bradberry’s matchups this year against two recent Pro-Bowl receivers and their average numbers in the other four weeks.

Player:                              Allen Robinson:                             Amari Cooper:
vs. NYG:                           3 rec, 33 yards (JB INT)                 2 rec, 23 yards
other 4 weeks avg:        8 rec, 97 yards, 0.5 TDs                9.25 rec, 100.25 yards, 0.25 TDs

Secondary Needed Him Bad

Clearly, Bradberry is looking like the player the Giants hoped he would be when they signed him. It became even more crucial that the defense could lean on him when the secondary lost Deandre Baker to legal issues and Sam Beal chose to opt-out of the season. He has played all but one of the defensive snaps and even on special teams as well. It is terrifying to imagine what the team might look like had they not been able to acquire him this offseason.

Bradberry will be a Giant through the 2022-23 season and is certainly a piece that the team will build around. And there are already some young talent in the secondary that Big Blue will look to develop into great players. Rookie Darnay Holmes has seen time at cornerback already this year and has improved week to week. Jabrill Peppers is a 25-year-old safety that has shown his athleticism and physicality through the early part of the year and will be spelled by a promising rookie out of Alabama, Xavier McKinney. These are players that will benefit greatly from having a guy in his fifth year like Bradberry around.

Can Cover Anyone Right Now

Bradberry’s four years of experience in the NFC South has given him a sense of familiarity going against the best of the best. There he matched up with Michael Thomas, Mike Evans, and Julio Jones twice a year. The Giants have a guy who can cover anyone in the NFL right now. He will likely go head to head with Terry McLaurin in week six as the Giants take on Washington on Sunday. “Scary Terry” has over 400 yards receiving already this year and will certainly be a matchup to watch this week.

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