Giants 2021 Position Breakdown: Logan Ryan returns to lead safeties for Big Blue

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Giants' Logan Ryan, Xavier McKinney and Jabrill Peppers Treated Image
Giants' Logan Ryan, Xavier McKinney and Jabrill Peppers Treated Image

Heading into the 2021 season, the Giants have a much-improved roster on both sides of the ball and are looking to finally make their way back into the playoffs to become a Super Bowl contender once again.

In this series, we’ll break down every position group on the depth chart for Big Blue. This time, we’ll go in-depth on the safeties…

Depth Chart

SS: Jabrill Peppers, Julian Love
FS: Logan Ryan, Xavier McKinney

- Top 2020 Performer: Logan Ryan – 94 tackles, one INT, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one sack, nine passes defended

- End of 2020 season rank (via PFF): 18th

What Giants safeties have going for them

This unit hasn’t changed from last season, and rightfully so. They were very solid in Patrick Graham’s scheme.

The addition of Ryan late in training camp was huge once McKinney went down with a foot injury. He brought the veteran leadership on and off the field that the defense quickly loved. And his play on the field was very productive, with Ryan and Peppers almost on every tackle it seemed. There’s a reason the Giants extended Ryan long-term.

Speaking of Peppers, he continues to be a hard-hitting sort of hybrid safety/linebacker for the Giants. With McKinney back healthy heading into training camp, expect him to be in the box and toward the line of scrimmage creating havoc in the backfield and offering his tackling abilities to add an extra threat up front.

McKinney still has more to show the Giants after joining the team late. He secured the team’s final win of the season against the Dallas Cowboys with an interception in the end zone, but there’s more ballhawk tendencies where that came from for the Alabama product.

There’s also Love who can be very versatile as well in the secondary, making this group overall young and impactful on every snap.

Key Concern: Health

Of all the position groups for the Giants, this one from top to bottom is about as solid as it gets. So, if there was a concern for this unit, it would just be staying healthy.

McKinney had the foot injury in camp last season, so he’ll want to avoid anything of that nature before the start of the season.

Other than that, Ryan played all 16 games and Peppers played 15. Keeping this group healthy will be a key for defensive success all season long.

Player who must step up in 2021: Xavier McKinney

We know what Peppers and Ryan bring to the table, but the jury is still out on McKinney after playing just six games.

He was highly touted out of Alabama and Joe Judge even said that McKinney had the potential to be New York’s “quarterback of the defense.” He has the skills to tackle in the box and cover the fastest receiver on the field, so Graham is sure to have three-safety sets that will have McKinney involved with Ryan and Peppers throughout every game.

Stepping up in those moments will do the defense a great service, as it would allow Peppers to play more freely knowing McKinney has the skill to get it done on the back end.

Biggest Camp Battle: Xavier McKinney vs. Julian Love

While all four of the safeties are sure to get playing time this season, this camp battle will be interesting to watch because Love has a chip on his shoulder after making the transition from corner to safety.

McKinney, as we mentioned, needs to show the Giants he is worthy of more playing time in year two.

So, while Ryan and Peppers are certainly the starters in the safeties room, these two will be going at it with each other to see who gets the first call off the sideline on defensive possessions.

2021 Outlook

Collectively, this group should draw the least amount of worry from Judge and Graham. Their versatility with hard-hitting from Peppers and Ryan mixed with the ball-hawking abilities of McKinney and Love should do well for New York once again in 2021.

The only question is how deceptive can Graham be with those three-safety sets, and how often will he be using them. We know he likes to be tricky with his calls and this group is perfect to deploy in different ways as well as others on the field.