It’s that time of year where NFL teams cherry-pick discarded players that other teams attempt to stash on their practice squad. General manager Dave Gettleman has done this quite a bit since arriving in New York. The Giants did this with WR Cody Core and OT Eric Smith last season, and they also received tight end Kaden Smith off waivers in the middle of September. It’s a common practice in the NFL, and this season is a bit different.
Due to COVID-19, teams can now stash a half-dozen players of any experience on the 16-man practice squad, which may have been one reason why the Giants signed center Jon Halapio earlier in the week. The 53-man roster was solidified Saturday, and players from around the league were released. Lest not forget, the Giants have David Mayo and Xaiver McKinney on the active roster, but both will be relegated to the IR on Sunday or Monday. There should be at least two available spots for cut players like Ryan Connelly or players released by other teams. Here are some interesting players that the Giants may look to bring on board.
WR Keelan Doss
The 24-year-old receiver didn’t make the cut after the Las Vegas Raiders invested a first-round pick into Henry Ruggs III and a third-round pick on Bryan Edwards, but that doesn’t mean Doss’ dreams of playing in the NFL are through. Doss is a 6-foot-3, 211-pound, wide receiver who caught 11 of his 14 targets, six for first downs, in his two games started last season.
Doss played his college football at UC-Davis and was undrafted in 2019. He’s supposedly a high football character type of player, which would appeal to Joe Judge, but his production was also excellent in college. He finished his time at UC-Davis with 321 receptions for 4069 and 28 total touchdowns. He had more than 100 receptions in two separate seasons. He’s not a burner, but he’s a smooth route runner who has a big body, and he does a solid job at the catch point. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Giants were interested in his frame and competitive toughness.
WR Daurice Fountain
Fountain didn’t do all that much in his rookie year after being selected by the Indanapolis Colts in the fifth round of the 2018 draft, but the buzz surrounding Fountain during the 2019 training camp was ample. The Northern Iowa product seemed poised for a breakout season and was receiving very good reviews from reporters on the beat, but he ended up suffering a season-ending ankle injury and spent the year on IR.
Fountain is 6-2, 210 pounds, and he’s a physical receiver who’s tough at the catch point. He had an incredible pro day in 2018.
He’s only 24 years old and he had elite athletic traits prior to the injury. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him claimed by a team. But if the Colts are lucky enough, they’ll look to stash Fountain on their practice squad.
OC Greg Mancz
Mancz is a player with starting experience at both guard and center. He has 28 career starts in five seasons with the Houston Texans, albeit his injury history is also somewhat extensive. We know Gettleman head coach Joe Judge have preached positional versatility. Mancz has that and he’s only 28.
If the Nick Gates experiment doesn’t work out, then the Giants may only be left with Spencer Pulley, although I believe that Halapio will be stashed on the practice squad, possibly with Tyler Haycraft. Mancz provides both experience and versatility.
EDGE Shaquem Griffin
The 2018 fifth-round pick, who defied the odds and overcame so much adversity, was released by the Seattle Seahawks. Griffin is undersized for an EDGE/LB, but he plays with incredible intensity and is a solid special teams contributor. He was a situational pass rusher and backup SAM for Seattle last season, and the Giants are thin at the EDGE position. The team is high on rookies Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin, but Griffin could intrigue.
EDGE James Crawford
Crawford was brought to Green Bay as a UDFA when Patrick Graham was the linebackers coach and then he followed Graham to the Miami Dolphins last season where he had a very minimal role. The obvious familiarity between Crawford and Patrick Graham could suggest that there may be interest, but there’s no professional production that suggests Crawford is worth a roster spot on the Giants. The former Fightin’ Illini is 6-2, 238 pounds, and he’s 26 years of age. At Illinois, he played safety, EDGE, and linebacker, so he’s versatile, but we haven’t seen that yet in the NFL ranks.
DT Robert Windsor
Windsor was drawing good reviews from reporters on the Indianapolis Colts beat, but he could not crack the roster to help DeForest Buckner and that defensive line this season. Windsor, who’s an ultra-competitive 2020 sixth-round pick out of Penn State, is 6-4, 290 pounds, and had 10 sacks the last two seasons in college as a 3-technique, 4i shade, and even 5-technique in certain circumstances.
At Colts camp, he was reportedly doing well as a 3-technique. The Giants do not necessarily need a 3-technique and are rather deep at defensive line, but Windsor has a history with defensive line coach Sean Spencer. Coach “Chaos” already has one former Nittany Lion in his defensive line room in Austin Johnson. Will the Giants add another?
DT Breeland Speaks
The No. 46 overall pick in the 2018 draft by the Kansas City Chiefs has had a tough start to his NFL career (other than winning a Super Bowl, of course). He’s a 6-3, 285-pound, 24-year-old who played 522 total defensive snaps as an outside linebacker in Bob Sutton’s 3-4 defense in 2018. During that season, he had 1.5 sacks and 23 pressures. He was a better fit for Steve Spagnuolo’s 4-3, defense, but injured his knee and missed the 2019 season.
Although he didn’t make the Chiefs’ 2020 roster, he reportedly slimmed down and was really focused in camp. I believe the Chiefs feel like they can slip Speaks through waivers and stash him on the practice squad. In his final (junior) season at Ole Miss, he had 61 tackles, 8 for a loss, and 7 sacks as a defensive lineman. I wouldn’t be shocked if someone claims him on waivers.
CB Sidney Jones
Jones was the 43rd overall pick in 2017 and would have been a sure-fire first-round selection if he didn’t tear his Achilles during pre-draft drills. A ton of people felt the Philadelphia Eagles received a steal with Jones in the 2017 draft, but it never materialized. The 6-foot, 181-pound, cornerback was never able to live up to his first-round reputation, but it’s hard to think that he’s irredeemable at this point. He’s a 24-year-old with a high pedigree who had to overcome a gruesome injury during his rookie season. He’s also never really been healthy. Jones has played 23 of 54 potential career games so far, and he’s attempted to play through injury.
His 2018 campaign wasn’t great, but he was able to improve in 2019 by picking two passes off (one against Daniel Jones to help seal a victory) and force 5 PBUs, while only surrendering a 55.6 percent catch rate, as opposed to his 2018 67.4 percent catch rate. Jones may just need a change of scenery and some good luck to avoid injuries.
CB Rasul Douglas
Jones wasn’t the only Eagles’ cornerback to be waived this weekend. Douglas, a big, physical 2017 third-round selection out of West Virginia found himself booted as well. Douglas was never excellent in coverage; he’s a bigger cornerback who’s a bit stiff in the hips, but his length is intriguing, as is his age (25).
The issues that Douglas had were mostly due to vertical speed receivers on the outside. Offenses would attempt to mismatch Douglas against receivers with elite speed, and it was tough for Douglas to adapt. Douglas had solid production in Philadelphia with 18 starts in 46 games played, 118 tackles, 25 passes defended, and 5 interceptions, while surrendering 10 touchdowns. It’s tough for cornerbacks who lack deep speed to not be liabilities and that seemed like it was an issue for Douglas, who should still, despite his lack of speed, land on his feet.
CB Ryan Lewis
Lewis is a 26-year-old journeyman who spent some time with Patrick Graham in Miami in 2019. He didn’t make it this summer with the Washington Football Team. He’s a physical tackler who allowed a sub-60 percent catch rate while playing the majority of snaps on the boundary last season for Patrick Graham, after bouncing around on a few different squads before landing in Miami. He’s got good size (6-foot, 195 pounds) and he could provide depth to a cornerback room that still lacks a proven starter opposite of James Bradberry (if we’re under the assumption that Logan Ryan isn’t exclusively used outside).