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Giants’ 90-man roster: Can Mark McLaurin be Giants’ version of Deone Bucannon?

That might be a lot to ask from this undrafted free agent

NCAA Football: Charleston Southern at Mississippi State
Mark McLaurin
Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

Curious to see if he can fill the “Moneybacker” role Deone Bucannon played on James Bettcher’s Arizona Cardinals defense, the New York Giants are taking a hard look at undrafted free agent Mark McLaurin.

Let’s discuss McLaurin as we continue profiling the 90 players the Giants will bring to training camp later this summer.

The basics

Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 212
Age: 22
Position: Linebacker
Experience: 0

How he got here

Playing safety for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, McLaurin had 224 tackles (114 solo) in 49 games, along with eight interceptions and 18 passes defensed. The Giants signed him as a priority undrafted free agent.

2019 outlook

As I said above, the Giants are experimenting with the possibility of moving McLaurin from safety to 3-4 inside linebacker, the position Bucannon excelled at.

Let’s get something straight, though. These two players are not the same. Sure, physically there is a similarity, with Bucannon checking in at 6-foot-1, 211 and McLaurin 6-1, 215. Bucannon, though, was a 2014 first-round pick by Arizona (27th overall). McLaurin wasn’t drafted at all. Athletically, there is also a difference. Check out the spider charts for the two players:

Those two things are not the same. Still, McLaurin intrigues the Giants. Here are snippets from some of the scouting reports on McLaurin:

Draft Analyst:

“Possesses a closing burst, quickly gets to the ball carrier and gives effort against the run. Sells out to make plays, fires up the field and wraps up tackling. Keeps the action in front of him and displays solid range. Shows the ability to make plays when the ball is in the air. ... Lacks long speed and cannot recover. Neither quick nor fluid in his backpedal or in reverse. ... McLaurin has been consistently productive and has enough ability to line up at strong safety or in a zone system at the next level. He’ll be effective as a dime back, and McLaurin comes with a special-teams mentality.”

The Draft Network:

“Size and length are pluses. Aggressive run defender who processes his keys quickly and won’t hesitate to come downhill. Plays fast and energetic. ... Pretty linear athlete without great speed or athletic tools. No instincts or anticipation in coverage. Range is lacking. Man coverage does not appear to be a viable option.”

“Steps on the field looking like an NFL safety with good height, weight and length, but doesn’t play physical enough for the box and is missing functional speed and ball skills for the back-end. McLaurin has decent instincts and feel for route progressions and quarterback intentions, but he will still be a step slow to the ball. His physical traits give him a chance of finding the back end of a roster or a practice squad as teams often look to develop safety skills around the physical traits.”

The Giants always seem to throw some darts at the linebacker position. Trying McLaurin there is one of those. We’ll see during training camp if this one might hit its target.