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Giants’ roster battles: UDFAs with the best chance to make the 53-man roster

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There are always a handful of surprises on the season-opening roster

NFL: JUL 26 Giants Training Camp
C.J. Conrad
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New York Giants have to trim their roster from 90 players to 53 by 4 p.m. ET on Saturday. That means, of course, that this is a nervous time for a number of veterans and rookies who know they are not guaranteed of making the roster.

“Right now, we really don’t have a depth chart, so I wouldn’t say who’s at the bottom of the roster,” coach Pat Shurmur said on Monday. “I will say this. We sort of know who’s at the top of the roster. Everybody beyond that, and especially all of the guys that play in Thursday’s game, certainly have a chance to impress us in a way where they can make our football team. I think that’s still where we’re at roster wise. We have a lot of guys competing for the 53 spots.”

Let’s look at the undrafted free agents with the best chances of making the season-opening roster

C.J. Conrad (TE)

I’ve been on the Conrad bandwagon since the spring. I was a bit miffed that the former Kentucky Wildcat played only eight snaps last week vs. the Cincinnati Bengals. In retrospect, though, I think that might be because the Giants have seen what they needed to see from Conrad and wanted extended looks at Garrett Dickerson and Scott Simonson as they fight for the fourth tight end spot.

Josiah Tauaefa (ILB)

Tauaefa leads the Giants in tackles with 12 after three preseason games, and has done well in the Pro Football Focus grading system. We know the Giants like him because they guaranteed him $110,000 at signing, the most of any of their undrafted free agents.

We also know that the Giants’ backup linebacker situation is in flux. Beyond Alec Ogletree, Tae Davis and fifth-round pick Ryan Connelly the remaining roster spot or spots is uncertain.

Tauaefa has spent most of his time playing with the third team this summer. That might not matter, though. Recall last year when wide receiver Jawill Davis made the roster after spending preseason with the third team.

Reggie White Jr. (WR)

White, out of Monmouth, has made some splash plays during the first three preseason games. He has six catches for 100 yards, including a 36-yard grab. That’s 16.7 yards per catch.

The difficulty for White is that the Giants have a deep, veteran group in front of him. As perhaps the last receiver on the roster he would need to play a critical special teams role, and he hasn’t really shown any aptitude for that thus far. Russell Shepard is one of the best in the league in that area, and Alonzo Russell has made a number of noticeable special teams plays. Skills in that area are necessary for a youngster like White trying to make the roster.

Other notables

Edge Jake Carlock made a big impression in the first preseason game with an interception return for a touchdown. He hasn’t beeen able to build on that, though, and is probably a practice squad candidate.

Running back Jon Hilliman has flashed, but it’s doubtful he has pushed past the veterans in front of him. He’s another practice squad possibility.

Offensive tackle Paul Adams and center James O’Hagan are two other names to know. It’s doubtful either makes the roster, but both could land on the practice squad.