1. Terrell ThomasMuch like Hakeem Nicks was on the offensive side of the ball, Terrell Thomas was the breakout star of the Giants’ defense.
It’s hard to imagine that going into the season, some Giants fans wanted Aaron Ross to start over Thomas opposite Corey Webster. Thomas showed promise in his rookie season as a second round pick out of USC, and established himself as a starter in the NFL in his second season, but some still favored Ross’ superior raw skills.
In his third season, Thomas took a giant step forward, improving in almost every aspect of his game. He led the Giants with five interceptions, and his 21 passes defensed were third in the NFL. Most impressively, he led the Giants with 101 total tackles, which is most in the NFL for a CB. His four forced fumbles were tied for tenth in the league.
Thomas was one of the brightest bright spots for the 2010 season, and an argument could be made that he was the team’s defensive MVP. Antrel Rolle made the pro bowl, but anybody who watches the Giants can tell you that Thomas had the bigger impact this season. Thomas was one of the bigger pro bowl snubs, but if he keeps playing the way he did this season, he will be playing in Hawaii before long (although I’d rather him have to skip the game to prepare for the Super Bowl).
Like everyone on the Giants, Thomas had some ups and downs. The Giants struggled against some top tier passing offenses, and while Thomas is not above all criticism for these deficiencies, the problems certainly would have been far worse with out him. He is one of the best tacklers on the team (not too often a cornerback leads a team in tackles), and he has great playmaking abilities.
As far as I’m concerned, Thomas is now the Giants’ best defensive player that does not play on the defensive line. He’s not in the same class as guys like Revis or Asomugha, but he has established himself as one of the better starting CBs in the NFL.