There is still some time before the New York Giants release their official list of undrafted free agent signings, but we wanted to round up the unofficial list of potential signings. This list can change — there might be some erroneous reporting and some might change their minds and sign elsewhere.
Chad Wheeler (OT, USC)
Jessamen Dunker (OL, Tennessee State)
Armando Bonheur (OL, Samford)
Sam Ekwonike (OL, Coastal Carolina)
Shane Smith (FB, San Jose State)
Colin Thompson (TE, Temple)
Romond Deloatch (TE/OLB, Temple)
Travis Rudolph (WR, FSU)
Virginia WR Keeon Johnson (WR, Virginia)
Jalen Williams (WR, UMass)
Evan Schwan (DE, Penn State)
Jarron Jones (DT, Notre Dame)
Josh Banks (DT, Wake Forest)
Calvin Munson (LB, San Diego State)
Jadar Johnson (S, Clemson)
Felix Menard-Briere (K/P, Montreal Carabins) - Rookie mini-camp tryout
NOTE: Some players get UDFA contracts. Those players will get a small amount of guaranteed money and count against the 90-man roster. Tryout players are those invited to rookie mini-camp with no guarantees.
The Giants routinely find some hidden gems in their UDFA classes, so let’s take a look at some players who have the potential to make names for themselves over the coming months.
Chad Wheeler (OT, USC) - Wheeler started four years at left tackle for Southern California, sports an athletic frame, and looks like an NFL tackle. Wheeler has good, quick feet and plays with a competitive edge, but he has a lengthy injury history highlighed by a torn ACL in 2014. His height and injury history effect his pad level and he can struggle against particularly swift or powerful rushers, but in general he is a capable pass and run blocker. Wheeler likely went undrafted because of his injuries, but if he can overcome that, he has the potential to emerge as a potential player.
Jessamen Dunker (OL, Tennessee State) - I’ll admit, I didn’t know anything about Dunker until the last day of the draft. But as developmental linemen started going off the board and we got into the “who?” stage of the draft, I took a look at him.
Dunker is an intriguing prospect who probably profiles as a guard, but could be athletic enough to try at tackle. Despite being 6’4”, 318 pounds, Dunker turned a sub 5-second 40-yard dash (4.98) at the Scouting Combine and (reportedly) has quick feet on the field. He needs work on both his strength and technique to hang at the next level, but he could be a developmental prospect if he is willing to put in the work.
Jadar Johnson (S, Clemson) - A one-year starter for the Clemson Tigers, Johnson emerged as a play-maker in his final season at Clemson. Initially recruited as an “athlete”, Johnson came off the bench for his first two years but got his chance to be a starting safety when both of Clemson’s starting safeties left early for the NFL after the 2015 season. Johnson is a high-effort, aggressive, and instinctive safety and racked up 65 tackles (two for a loss), two forced fumbles, 12 passes defensed, and five interceptions in his lone year as a starter.
He could stand to add some size at 6’0”, 206 pounds, but is adequate or a free safety. Despite needing to work on his discipline as a defender (which leads to giving up some big plays), Johnson’s play style could appeal to Steve Spagnuolo and he could make a strong push for a roster spot.
Travis Rudolph (WR, FSU) - Rudolph is undersized, lacks long speed, and can drop easy passes — but he is still a player worth keeping an eye on. Rudolph was very productive at Florida State and uses his quick feet and advanced route running to separate from defenders and make things happen after the catch. He also doesn’t hesitate to do the little things and is a willing blocker for his teammates. Rudolph is well-suited to the Giants passing game and could make waves on the practice field during the off-season program. He is also a very high character young man off the field who consistently gives back to the community.
Jarron Jones (DT, Notre Dame) - At 6’6”, 316 pounds with 35 1⁄2 inch arms, Jones looks like a prototypical defensive tackle. At his best he is possibly the most dominant and disruptive interior defender in this draft. Jones has uncommon length for a 3-technique to go along with natural power, quickness, and agility.
The problem is that THAT player doesn’t always show up.
Jones has had issues with injuries (Lisfranc injury in 2014, torn MCL in 2015) and his motivation is inconsistent, at best. His final season at Notre Dame proved to be his best, which is encouraging with regards to his injuries. The inconsistency is another matter that the Giants will have to figure out if they want to unlock his prodigious potential. At the risk of wading into the realm of armchair psychology, Jones’ issues might stem from being the biggest, strongest, most athletic player on the field; and like other players who woke up athletically dominant, never had to develop solid work habits until he arrived in Notre Dame. Once there injuries and being miscast as a nose tackle in the Irish’s 3-4 front might have delayed his development. Head coach Brian Kelly did say after Jones’ dominant game against Miami that his preparation and work habits improved last year.
The Giants have to hope that playing for the always energetic Steve Spagnuolo, and sharing a locker room with Damon Harrison, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Olivier Vernon can motivate Jones to consistently bring his best. As a prospect Jones was considered “boom or bust,” but as a UDFA signing Jones is all upside with no risk.
And that upside is considerable.