Nat Berhe entered the Giants off season program penciled in as one of the starting safeties next to rookie Landon Collins. When the dust settled after mini camp ended, Berhe missed the Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and mini camp practices with a calf injury, surrendering his edge to third year player Cooper Taylor.
The 6’0″, 194 pound Berhe was a frequent contributor on special teams in as a rookie 2014 after being selected in the fifth round out of San Diego State. He played just 32 snaps on defense, despite the Giants glaring need at safety, but the coaching staff had been raving about his progress since December. The only thing that appeared to be holding him back is his similar playing style to this year’s second round draft pick, Collins, but as both safeties play similar roles in defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defense, Berhe was candidate for the second safety spot. Then he hurt his calf, and the competition opened up again.
Taylor, also a fifth round pick from Richmond, in 2013, missed all of the 2014 season with a foot injury. at 6’4″ and 228 pound, he is the biggest of the safeties on the team, but has struggled to stay healthy during his short NFL career. He missed 6 games in 2013 with shoulder and hamstring injuries, the latter ending his season with a stint on injured reserve. When healthy, Taylor has shown flashes, and his strong play continues this spring as he teamed up with Collins to form an inexperienced but promising safety duo.
Selecting safeties in the fifth round seems to be a pattern for Jerry Reese, as Mykkele Thompson from Texas was the third straight such pick, in the 2015 draft. A surprise to the Giants faithful and television pundits alike, Thompson, 6’0″, 193 pounds, has impressed in early returns. A coach at Texas noticed that Thompson was not wearing his glasses on the field and inquired, turning his career around. Once his vision improved, his confidence and play improved, resulting in his surprise draft position. Thompson now breaks on the ball better and is in better position to make plays, both of which improved immediately upon his vision correction. He and Collins could form the Giants starting safety tandem for the next half decade.
Justin Currie, an undrafted free agent from Western Michigan, is a hard hitting 6’2″, 210 pound safety who started 37 games in his Broncos college career. While intercepting just five passes, Currie made plays from sideline to sideline, and often took over games, dominating from his third level position. At mini camp, Currie was given snaps with the starters and could be a dark horse for a roster spot in September.
Josh Gordy is a 5’11”, 195 pound journeyman who most recently played for the Indianapolis Colts. He’s also spend time with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Green Bay Packers, and St. Louis Rams. Playing both cornerback and safety, Gordy would seem best suited for a backup role with the Giants in 2015.
Bennett Jackson was drafted in the 6th round in the 2014 draft as a cornerback out of Notre Dame. He spent the 2014 season on the Giants practice squad until a knee injury ended his season. Converted to safety this year, Jackson is learning the nuances of the position and could wind up back on the practice squad this year.
The only certainly at safety for the Giants is that one of the starters will be Landon Collins. Training camp will feature an open competition for the second starter with Cooper Taylor opening as the leader. Nat Berhe, if healthy will have the first opportunity to unseat him, with Mykkele Thompson and Justin Currie needing to impress the coaches in both practice and preseason games in order to earn more regular season playing time.
Gians360 sees Taylor holding on the the second safety position as long as he remains healthy. The backup positions will go to Berhe and Thompson with Currie landing a spot on the practice squad. Seen as a position of weakness before the draft, Reese solidified it with two quality picks. These young players will grow together, mesh with Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and form a strong New York Giants secondary.