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Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham talks James Bradberry’s and Leonard Williams’ struggles, ‘elite’ Devonta Smith

Patrick Graham before a game at MetLife close up

Patrick Graham before a game at MetLife close up

It wasn’t a well-kept secret that the Giants wanted to take wide receiver Devonta Smith with the 11th pick.

But then, just about four months after tanking to knock the Giants out of the playoffs from the season before, the Philadelphia Eagles traded up to No. 10 to snag the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner right from Big Blue’s lap.

Now, the Giants are faced with the task of halting Smith for the first time in the next however many years.

“The way he was advertised coming out of college, he’s an elite-level player,” Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham told reporters on Friday. “He’s really, really good. I remember the not being the size [of a typical NFL WR], but there’s probably two or three touchdowns where people bounce off of him, and he scored. His toughness shows up on the tape, whether it’s in the pass game, run after catch, gadget plays that they give him, but also his blocking…

“He’s tough, he’s physical, and then his receiving skills are up there with anybody in the league that we’ve seen so far. I’ve been very impressed with him, and unfortunately, we’re gonna have to deal with him for however many years on his contract in this division.”

The Giants aren’t going to be stopping Smith if James Bradberry has another bad game, however.

Bradberry and Co. had a couple of decent outings against the Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Oakland Raiders, but the defense struggled again in Tampa Bay against the Buccaneers.

Bradberry is the highest cap hit for the Giants this season – last year, that seemed reasonable. But that hasn’t been the case for the majority of this season, so the Giants need him to do well.

“The way the NFL is set up…your best players have to play well,” said Graham. “When we’re going good, our best players are playing well.”

Leonard Williams also has struggled after signing a big deal in the offseason, and while Graham said the defense’s struggles aren’t “all on them,” they have those contracts for a reason.

“Guys that you see are the star players,” Graham said, “they have to play well… in order for us to be successful.”

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