New York Giants: Why Prince Amukamara Will Bounce Back in 2012
Despite being a New York Giants first-round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, Prince Amukamara had a lackluster first season.
He only played in seven games due to a fractured metatarsal in his left foot; Amukamara returned but seemed out of place on the field at times during the rest of the season.
He did not live up to expectations as being the shutdown corner he was while playing college football at Nebraska.
Since this will be his first healthy season, he will have had an offseason of conditioning under his belt as well as more time to study the playbook.
With that and the fact he is a physically gifted cornerback, he will calm down and live up to those draft expectations.
No Lockout This Year
Thanks to the NFL lockout last year, players were barred from using team facilities and speaking to members of the coaching staff.
For rookies, this had a deleterious effect on their development due to the lack of OTAs and minicamps in June and July.
When it ended on July 25, teams had to make up for lost time, but in the scramble, rookies had a severely steep learning curve ahead of them.
With Amukamara hurt the day after signing his contract, he lost valuable time to work with the defense and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.
This time around, the extra preparation time will translate into a better performance for Amukamara.
Standing at 6'0" and weighing 207 pounds, he has a 4.43 40-yard dash speed and a 38 inch vertical leap.
In terms of physical traits, Amukamara is an ideal fit for the cornerback position.
He can play zone coverages or press depending on the situation.
His jumping abilities make him a good player for zone coverage because he has a significant amount of range.
His speed is good enough that he can run with most receivers as well.
But he needs to work on controlling his space around receivers, especially staying in front of them to prevent yards after the catch.
In 2011, Amukamara would jam the receiver at the line of scrimmage but allow him to squeak by, creating enough daylight for the receiver to catch the pass and extend the play by a few yards.
Amukamara was speedy enough to run down receivers, but he could have prevented any pass by staying ahead of them.
He has the capability of being a Darrelle Revis-type player, one who can play on an island and shut down a side of the field.
In order to be this kind of corner, Amukamara needs to use his speed and place himself in ideal positions to make stops and create turnovers.
Playing out of the Nickel Package
While playing at Nebraska, Bo Pellini used the Peso, a nickel defense also known as the 4-2-5 scheme.
Amukamara was a dominant corner in that package because the presence of an extra defensive back allowed him to focus just on his receiver, isolating them from the quarterback.
Last year, you can see Amukamara often gave up a large amount of yards when he stared down the quarterback while giving his receiver a small cushion.
Amukamara is a better corner when he is assigned to press a receiver; he is more comfortable playing man-to-man just like he did in college.
Last year, Amukamara would often twist his hips early and try to run down a receiver because he would defend receivers with a cushion.
Returning to a more physical style of play is the best thing for Amukamara.
As long as he jams receivers immediately off the line of scrimmage, doesn't get his hips turned prematurely and stays low and in line with the receiver, he can control them and make sure the quarterback has one less target.
A Healthy Defense This Time Around
Last year, the secondary was in shambles—coverages were missing or key players were out with injuries.
Injuries were common for the defense and really prevented the Giants from generating momentum until the final part of the season.
Being so young and missing most the season, Amukamara never really developed any chemistry with the defensive unit until the final week of the season.
It was well-timed, and the secondary was a major reason the Giants were able to win another Super Bowl.
Now, the defensive backs have recuperated and will continue being an important aspect of the Giants winning formula.
Terrell Thomas has rehabilitated his ACL, and Antrel Rolle can move back to safety as opposed to playing the slot corner.
Rolle is better at safety since his lack of speed makes him a liability when covering faster receivers. It creates the opportunity for mismatches in favor of the offense.
By establishing a consistent secondary unit, Amukamara can develop chemistry with them and focus on his assignments, using his speed to bolster the secondary.
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