With some uncertainty surrounding the health of Darian Thompson and Nat Berhe, and with Mykkele Thompson having been moved to cornerback, the New York Giants recently added veteran safety Duke Ihenacho to the roster.
Does Ihenacho have a legitimate chance to stick around as a reserve safety? Let’s take a closer look as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the Giants’ 90-man roster. By the way, today is Ihenacho’s 28th birthday. So, happy birthday, Duke!
2016 Season In Review
Ihenacho is a 6-foot, 212-pound safety who started 10 games for the Redskins in 2016. Pro Football Focus gave him a grade of 62.7, 78th out of 90 qualifying safeties. Ihenacho has 25 NFL starts in 36 career games. He spent three seasons with the Denver Broncos before joining Washington.
2017 Season Outlook
Landon Collins will be one of the Giants’ safeties, of course. Darian Thompson and Andrew Adams will also be part of the 53-man roster, barring injury. Ihenacho is part of a group fighting for a roster spot that includes Nat Berhe, Eric Pinkins, Ryan Murphy and undrafted rookie Jadar Johnson.
Ihenacho is the most accomplished of the group, with 25 NFL starts over 36 games. Considering that he has played mostly at the free safety spot, he could fit nicely as a backup for the Giants.
#Giants new safety, Duke Ihenacho has played mostly deep FS in his career thus far. pic.twitter.com/jXFvNgFJHk— Ryan Smith (@RSmithNFL) May 25, 2017
You have to wonder how many safeties the Giants will keep. I have them with four in my most recent 53-man roster projection, and I have Nat Berhe edging Ihenacho for a spot. That, though, could easily change.
One issue will be how quickly Ihenacho learns Steve Spagnuolo’s complicated defense and displays the ability to make calls from the back end of it. Spags admitted recently that his returning defenders are at a grad school level, while it is “challenging” for the new players to catch up.
If Ihenacho can get caught up we could certainly see him on the 53-man roster when the season begins.