With training camp about to open, several unknown New York Giants free agent rookies hope that by the end of the summer, they have become familiar faces, at least where the Big Blue decision makers are concerned. With 90 players vying for 53 roster spots, there are only so many vacancies the Giants are looking to fill.
For most undrafted players, there is hope that they can at least secure a practice squad position, as it could lead to active roster time as injuries hit the team later in the season. The NFL Draft Report has identified six of these rookies to keep an eye on this summer – receivers Darius Powe, tight end Ryan Malleck, defensive linemen Greg Milhouse and Ishaq Williams and outside linebacker/rush end Romeo Okwara.
As an added feature, there is a "plus one" report on French import, wide receiver Anthony "Dabletron" Dable', a high-flying pass catcher certain to make Giants fans smile during his "exhibits" during exhibition play. This article takes a look at those five athletes, their competition for the final roster spots and what they need to do to impress the staff that they are ready to play in the NFL.
Here are snippets of the reports on all six players.
Romeo Okwara, DE/OLB, Notre Dame
Due to his position shift and the nice signing bonus (under $15K) he received to join the team, the Giants might show patience and let Okwara develop on the practice squad. The adjustment back to linebacker might have one drawback - his 4.9 speed is better suited for first level competition. One of the things that he does best is to take on blocks, thanks to his condor-like reach and big, strong hands. As a pass rusher, he plays with leverage and shows adequate-to-good power at the point of attack.
Darius Powe, WR, Cal
He has ideal size for today's NFL receiver with long limbs for his position, showing marked improvement in his route running skills last season. He is a valid deep threat, even though he was used more as a decoy than in that desired role.... He runs with a fluid stride and unlike most tall receivers, he has learned to stay lower in his pads to generate better hip snap when trying to elude. ... he has the athletic skills to develop, but will need patient coaching to teach him the intricacies of the game. He also has the large, natural hands to make touch catches, but must be more alert to the closing defender.
Ishaq Williams, DE, Notre Dame
Williams is a classic "tweener" style of defensive lineman - a bit undersized, but can be utilized in a variety of roles up front. He is not a great athlete, as he lacks suddenness of the edge, but could be utilized as an under-tackle for several snaps, as he uses his hands well to defeat blocks, or to drop back and play the "sam" position with the second level defenders ...
He lacks ideal bulk for a down lineman at his current 253-pound weight and those players usually survive on pass rushing ability - a weakness in Williams' overall game ... Williams is really not ever going to be a great pass rusher - more the type that will pressure the pocket than seal the deal and close on the quarterback. He lacks that explosive first step off the snap.
Greg Milhouse, DT, Campbell
While Milhouse lacks pass rush skills, the 295-pounder demonstrates good quickness off the snap, as he attacks the gaps with aggression, getting skinny to slip past interior linemen when lining up as a defensive tackle ...
As a run defender, Milhouse has good strength, but for some reason, he will struggle with leverage and when this happens, he can be walked off the line, especially vs. double-team coverage, as his frame lacks the ideal width and thickness in his lower body you look for in a typical Giants interior defender. He does appear to have the frame to add an additional 10-15 pounds.
Ryan Malleck, TE, Virginia Tech
He enters training camp knowing that he sits fifth on their current depth chart at tight end, but as we have seen with several college tight ends that lack the ideal size to play that position in the professional ranks, his blocking skills and short area pass catching ability could see him be utilized in motion as an H-Back. His knockdown blocks are so forceful, that he might also see time at the fullback position after recording a total of 189 key blocks during his last three seasons.
Scouting reports on Malleck state that he is never going to excite you as a pass catcher, as he lacks the quickness to stretch the defense or challenge the zone like a Rob Gronkowski. He lacks flashy moves, but always seems to be in position to make the key block or neutralize the edge rushers in attempts to protect the pocket.
Anthony Dable, WR, France
While his "learning curve" adjusting to NFL-style of play will probably see him better eased on to the roster at first (practice squad), Dable knows how to use his size, good strength and a effective jab step to quickly gain clearance against press corners. He won't dazzle you with blazing speed, but does have that build-up with his straight-line charge and he's savvy enough to know how to lull defenders asleep with his long-strides and sneak behind the coverage for the long ball.
Dable is more advanced that most of the free agent rookie receivers the Giants will bring into camp. He possesses a rare combination of hand-eye coordination, body control and hand strength. He earned his nickname - Dabletron - for his ability to make the circus grab look easy and while he is no Odell Beckham, he did bring the German League crowd to its feet with his impressive one-handed grabs, thanks to his ability to flex when extending. He is the type that can pluck the ball high and wide, as well as behind him.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: These short player blurbs were added here with the blessing of NFL Draft Report head honcho Dave-Te` Thomas. They are just to whet your appetite. There is so much more information about these players in the NFLDR post that you really should invest the time to check it out.)