Although on paper the Giants seem set at the safety position for the coming year, it’s the future that is a concern.
The ridiculously talented Will Hill is facing his third league-imposed suspension for consuming something that he shouldn’t have.
Antrel Rolle, who is coming off a Pro Bowl season, is in the final year of his contract and is due to make a $7 million base salary in 2014, per Over the Cap.
Rolle might still be able to play at a high level this year and beyond, but he’s certainly not going to come cheaper—nor is he getting any younger.
Quintin Demps and Stevie Brown are both on one-year contracts. One or both could earn a longer deal with solid play, but that remains to be seen.
Then there’s Cooper Taylor, a fifth-round pick himself last year, who is hoping to put an injury-filled rookie campaign behind him and contribute.
In a nut shell, the Giants’ picture at safety beyond this year doesn’t look rosy.
San Diego State’s Nat Berhe (5’10”, 190 pounds) is hoping to change all that. A team captain, Berhe led his team in tackles (99) and solo stops (60) in 2013 and also recorded 5.5 tackles for losses, one sack, six passes defensed and two fumble recoveries en route to achieving first-team All-Mountain West honors.
Berhe, who said he didn’t play much special teams as a junior or senior by the coach’s design, brings a great deal of flexibility to the pros.
At San Diego State, he said he played the “Aztec” position, a role that the coaching staff initially created for former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher when they had him at New Mexico—and a role that sounds like it requires a high level of intelligence.
“It’s like a hybrid linebacker/safety,” Berhe said. “You can use them in different ways, you can blitz him off the edge, you can bring him down the box as an extra linebacker, you can play deep pass, safety, lineup in the slot (and) play man-to-man. He can do it all—he has to be a smart guy.“
Besides intelligence, Berhe also brings some intangibles to the game.
“I have great eyes,” he said. “You watch on film and I’m able to dissect plays and get to the ball. I led the team in tackles two years in a row, so (I can) get to the ball and (be) very disruptive.”