James Bradberry sure knows how to make an introduction. After four successful seasons in Carolina, Bradberry signed a 3-year $43.5 million with the New York Giants this past offseason. After getting off to the best start of his career, he is proving to be worth every penny.
This deal came with its share of naysayers. Often, his ability was called into question. Detractors used him never being a Pro-Bowler as the reason he didn’t deserve the number one cornerback money. Claiming that the only reason he saw such a high payday was because of the thin cornerback free-agent class.
Bradberry interpreted this as nothing more than blathering among the uninformed.
He decided to let his play on the field do his talking.
Throughout the course of his career, Bradberry was tasked with covering the opposing teams’ top receivers. A task which the former second-round pick he relished.
In Carolina, he regularly faced some of the very best receivers in the NFL. Six times per year, he went head-to-head with the likes of Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Michael Thomas. Over his first four seasons, Bradberry spent 21 percent of his career snaps covering the aforementioned Jones, Evans, and Thomas.
He continuously faced tough matchups week-in and week-out. Dating back to 2016, he ranks top-12 in both pass defenses and interceptions.
Front Office Familiarity
The Giants wasted no time courting Bradberry. The two sides struck a deal not long after free agency began. Familiarity played a huge role in this signing. Current Giants general manager, Dave Gettleman, drafted him during his time as GM of the Carolina Panthers. This gave the team comfort with the deal, as they knew what type of person and player they were receiving.
New York knew his strengths and weaknesses.
Standing 6’1″ & 212 lbs, the Giants knew they were getting a physical corner who excels in press-man coverage. He was an ideal fit for new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham‘s system.
Bradberry has made the front office look brilliant, thus far.
First Season In Blue
Pro Football Focus named him to their First Quarter All-Pro Team.
Going into week 7, Bradberry ranked as the 5th best cornerback in the NFL. Opponents have only managed 6.5 yards per target with only a 65.5 rating against. He also amassed two interceptions and an NFL-leading ten pass defenses
According to metrics by PFF, Bradberry has a rating of over 80 for the season. Ranking fifth in overall cornerback play and third in coverage.
Bradberry’s excellent play continued during the Giants’ heartbreaking loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. His second-quarter interception of Carson Wentz already tied his career-high of three through only seven games. He also added one pass breakup, extending his league lead to 11.
So far this season, Bradberry has totaled 25 tackles, 11 pass defenses, three interceptions, one forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
Money Well Spent
It looks as if the Giants have finally hit on a couple of their free-agent acquisitions. While many of them have played well to this point, none have played the level of James Bradberry.
He has backed receiving one of the richest cornerback contracts in the league with elite play on the field.
He is on pace to have the best statistical season of his career. Having already tied his career-high for interceptions after only 7-games.
He ranks at or near the top of the league in every single important statistical category for his position. Bradberry appears on track for his first career Pro Bowl.
Optimism For The Future
The season may not have gone the way a lot of fans had hoped. However, there have been a number of bright spots to be optimistic about.
- Blake Martinez has played extremely well and leads the league in tackles again.
- Leonard Williams ranks among the elite pass-rushers among interior defensive lineman.
- Will Hernandez is number one in the entire NFL in win rate percentage on running plays.
- Dexter Lawrence is one of the most un-blockable forces in the game.
- Darius Slayton is proving to be a legitimate receiver and amazing find late in the 5th round.
- The emergence of Kyler Fackrell
- James Bradberry playing like an All-Pro
This team is a couple of bounces away from being 5-2 right now. They could very easily be 3-4 right now- including 3-0 in the division.
They were never expected to win anyway. The Giants boast one of the youngest rosters in the NFL and are coming off a season in which they led the league by a landslide in snaps played by rookies.
This team has shown progression.
The future of this team has a lot to be hopeful about.
It is players like James Bradberry that give Giants fans that optimism for the future.