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LB Mark McLaurin getting second chance with Giants

Can former UDFA find way to stand out in crowded field?

TaxSlayer Bowl - Mississippi State v Louisville
Mark McLaurin
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Mark McLaurin is one of those players who can easily get lost in the NFL shuffle, never really getting an opportunity to show whether or not he belongs in the league. An undrafted free agent linebacker a season ago, McLaurin spent the year on IR after breaking his foot early in training camp.

Now, with a new coaching staff and a number of players added at his position, McLaurin faces the daunting task of proving he belongs. Let’s take a closer look as we continue profiling the players the Giants will bring to training camp.

The basics

Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 212
Age: 23
Position: Linebacker
Experience: 1
Contract: Year 2 of three-year, $1.765 million undrafted free agent deal | Guaranteed: $30,000

How he got here

A safety at Mississippi State, the Giants signed McLaurin as a UDFA hoping he could learn the ‘Moneybacker’ position in then-coordinator James Bettcher’s defense. That did not materialize as McLaurin was injured in one of the first practices of training camp.

2020 outlook

The first question is what position will McLaurin play? He is listed as a linebacker, but the team’s official website has him at just 212 pounds. Bettcher is, as we know, gone. Does the ‘Moneybacker’ position or something similar exist in Patrick Graham’s defense? Would McLaurin transition back to more of a traditional strong safety role, the position he played at Mississippi State?

Before the 2019 Draft, Draft Wire called McLaurin “a lean, long limbed defensive back prospect that’s going to make his money by coming up and making plays.”

Here’s more from Draft Wire:

“McLaurin is an aggressive safety that can set a tone with his hard-hitting presence. He is much better when the play is in front of him, he shows awareness and ability to diagnose routes and set his sights on receivers. He has ideal size for an NFL strong safety and can play in multiple coverage schemes.

“He does well to pick up tight ends in the shorter areas of the field. Can make an impact in the run game with his aggressive, downhill, attack style. He locates run lanes and fills them with speed. Has some limitations on the back-end and isn’t great when asked to turn, and run vertically.”

Could McLaurin compete for a role as a backup to Jabrill Peppers? There, his competition might be a player like Sean Chandler or seventh-round pick Chris Williamson.

Could the Giants still consider McLaurin a linebacker? There, the deck is stacked with players like Ryan Connelly, David Mayo, sixth-round pick Cam Brown, seventh-round picks T.J. Brunson and Tae Crowder, and perhaps others.

McLaurin would seem to have a tough road to making the roster. He does seem to fit the mold of the potential coverage linebacker/special teams player that seems to appeal to the new Giants regime, so let’s not count him out.