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Giants bolstering secondary a good move in pass-happy NFC East



Dak Prescott has a 12-2 career record against the Giants, and he has CeeDee Lamb as an elite go-to guy. Jalen Hurts will now be throwing to a pair of well-paid young receivers who earned their big tickets. Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels was drafted second overall to be a dual-threat franchise quarterback for Dan Quinn and the Commanders.

Brian Burns will help Dexter Lawrence and Kayvon Thibodeaux rush the passer for new Giants defensive coordinator Shane Bowen.

But Xavier McKinney taking his talents to Green Bay left a hole in a secondary that still lacks a CB2, and Giants GM Joe Schoen is betting he filled it with second-round pick Tyler Nubin.

Giants drafted safety Tyler Nubin in the second round of the NFL draft. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

And with Adoree’ Jackson on the outside looking in, Schoen grabbed 5-foot-10, 191-pound CB Andru Phillips out of Kentucky with the 70th pick following a run on corners he did not value enough to go up and get just in front of him.

Secondary was primary on Friday night for Schoen and the Giants, as well as it should have been.

The Giants have too many needs and owned too few picks (six) to go the “best available player” route, so WR1, and safety and cornerback depth at the very least have been checked off.

I asked Schoen what he likes about his defense after the moves he made in free agency and the draft.

“I’m excited about the young core that we have together and the guys that are under contract for multiple years,” he said. “I do think we have pieces in place.”

Andru Phillips could compete for immediate playing time with the Giants. AP

Nubin was crying when Schoen and coach Brian Daboll broke the dream news to him that he was now a New York Football Giant.

“Y’all just made the best decision in the whole draft,” a sobbing Nubin told his new head coach,

Schoen called Nubin — 6-foot-1, 199 pounds — a leader and culture-changer. He was the first safety drafted.

“I would say he takes the ball away,” Schoen said.

Phillips (zero career interceptions) did not.

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“He’s in position, he’s just got to finish a little bit harder,” Schoen said.

The Giants liked enough of his traits just the same.

“He’ll bring the wood now,” Daboll said.

The Giants were highly impressed that Nubin had played six games with a meniscus that required surgery after the season.

Giants general manager Joe Schoen Noah K. Murray / NY Post

“All three of the players that we’ve acquired so far really fit that mold in terms of mentally tough and physically tough.” Daboll said.

Schoen had no stomach to pay a safety — even a talented 24-year-old homegrown safety such as McKinney — anywhere close to the four-year, $68 million deal the Packers did, so he waited for a cheaper option that the second night of the draft offered with the 47th pick. A cheaper option and ballhawk (a school-record 13 interceptions at Minnesota) who could very well emerge as a Day 1 starter.

“Younger and cheaper, yes,” Schoen said and chuckled.

The second round is where the Giants historically have stalked safeties. In 2015, the Tom Coughlin-Jerry Reese regime traded to the top of the second round for Landon Collins, who was bitter that he was not selected in the first round.

“[It] couldn’t be a better situation for us, I’m sure, about how motivated this young man is,” Coughlin said. “He will compete for a starting job. He is a smart guy. He has contributed at Alabama in many different ways, as a leader and as a guy in the secondary making the calls. We are excited about the pick.”

Reese: “e’s very accomplished at a very high level of competition, the highest level of competition. He’s been very productive there. He’s smart. We interviewed him. This is what I think is going to motivate him. I think a lot of people had him projected to go in the first row, so I think we’re going to get a very, very motivated player coming in here to prove some people that didn’t take him in the first row. They missed out on a good player.”

The Giants did jumping jacks when McKinney fell to them at 36 in 2020.

“We had a first-round value on him, and we’re absolutely thrilled to get him,” then-GM Dave Gettleman said. “He’s a great kid. He’s smart, he plays smart, he lines up the back end for us, he’s versatile, you can put him down low, he can cover tight ends, he’s got ball skills, and he’s a good tackler. … One of the important things for us this year was getting a safety that could play the deep part of the field. Xavier has certainly played back there enough that we feel very comfortable about that part of his game.”

Both Collins and McKinney lasted four years with the Giants before getting the bag in free agency.

A running back, defensive tackle and developmental quarterback should be at or near the top of the checklist for Saturday.

Bowen’s defense is driven by the defensive front. But that doesn’t mean that in the NFC East, in this league, Schoen could consider the secondary, secondary.

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