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90-man roster preview: Could CB Grant Haley reinforce the Giants’ secondary?

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Undersized Penn State cornerback might be an undrafted contributor

NFL: New York Giants-Rookie Minicamp Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY SPorts

The New York Giants have gone to great lengths to remake their roster during the the 2018 offseason. While they have almost completely remade their offensive line, linebacker and running back positions, the team’s defensive secondary has become thin compared to previous seasons.

While Janoris Jenkins looks to rebound from an injury-plagued 2017 campaign, and Eli Apple hopes to put the disastrous year behind him completely, the Giants don’t have many other obvious starting-caliber cornerbacks. But while that might be a concern, it also presents an opportunity for under-the-radar players to secure a starting role. Among the players vying to take one of those open spots is undrafted Penn State cornerback Grant Haley.

Does Haley have a shot at making the final roster?

Let’s take a closer look.

Measurables

2017 season in review

Haley put together a strong senior campaign, recognized as an honorable All-Big Ten selection. In his final year at Penn State, Haley posted 40 tackles (3 for a loss), two sacks, two interceptions, and 10 passes defensed.

Haley had a strong combine, posting a 4.44 second 40 yard dash, as well as the second fastest 3-cone drill and fastest short shuttle among defensive backs.

Haley was generally considered to be a draftable prospect and was expected to be drafted somewhere between the fifth and sixth rounds. About Haley, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein said:

Slot corner who plays with good anticipation from zone and who has adequate athletic ability and foot quickness to compete in man coverage. Haley’s lack of size and inconsistency as a tackler will be a concern for teams. Haley has enough twitch and cover talent to offer up competition at the slot and his four years of experience on Penn State’s special teams units could help his cause.

Meanwhile, Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst said of Haley,

Haley lacks next-level height but has the speed and ball skills to line up in dime packages. Very effective facing the action, he’s best backed off the line of scrimmage.

Ultimately, Haley went undrafted — likely because of his modest height — and he signed with the Giants as a free agent.

2018 outlook

While the Giants have a number of cornerbacks behind Jenkins and Apple, they are, by and large, journeymen.

Haley is undersized by NFL standards, with his height coming in at the 13th percentile and arm length at the 3rd percentile among NFL prospects, but he posted elite quickness numbers.

Haley will likely be a slot corner in the NFL, a position where the Giants have limited depth after cutting Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. William Gay, 33, seems like the front runner to secure the starting slot corner job, but there are nothing but questions behind him.

Haley’s athleticism, awareness, ball skills, and experience on special teams — as well as the Giants’ lack of true depth at the slot corner position — should give him a legitimate path to the team’s 53-man roster.