The first round of cuts took place on Tuesday, with NFL teams reaching the current 85-player limit. The New York Giants said goodbye to tight end Jeremiah Hall, guard Josh Rivas, defensive back Gavin Heslop, DB Jarrod Wilson, DB Michael Jacquet, and wide receiver Austin Proehl.
GM Joe Schoen did not take long to add a player of interest; former 2021 UDFA out of USC, Olaijah Griffin, was claimed off waivers after Schoen’s previous employer - the Buffalo Bills - released him.
Griffin is the son of famous rapper Warren G. I love the rolling of the dice on a player like Griffin, who is a former five-star recruit with upside. He was the third-ranked cornerback coming out of high school in the 2018 recruiting cycle. Griffin does have durability concerns with surgeries on both shoulders in his past. He is only 5’11, 176 pounds, with just under 32-inch arms.
The Giants jumped at the opportunity to claim Griffin off waivers. There were multiple players released from every team, so Schoen and the Giants could have interest in several other players who now find themselves unemployed.
Here are five recently waived players that could interest the Giants:
Waived/Injured players are omitted.
Ross Cockrell, CB
So we meet again? Cockrell played well for the Giants in 2017, and his name’s been superficially linked to the Giants every time he was a free agent. The 6’0, 190-pound, 30-year-old cornerback played 475 snaps for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. He was a surprise cut.
Cockrell played man coverage on 27.5 percent of his snaps in 2021. Pro Football Focus ranked him as the 28th-best cornerback in man coverage. He was targeted 15 times, surrendering nine catches for 93 yards with only 20 yards allowed after the catch.
Cockrell recorded 26 tackles with seven passes defended while surrendering three total touchdowns in coverage. He blitzed 31 times from the cornerback spot, a career-high; he had four pressures and two quarterback hits. Cockrell’s ability to play man and his solid blitzing nature make him an interesting target to compete for a roster spot on a team that lacks depth and experience in the secondary.
Chris Westry, CB
The Carolina Panthers released Westry, a 6’4, 197-pound, 25-year-old outside cornerback who spent the 2021 season with Wink Martindale in Baltimore. Westry played 183 snaps for Martindale. He’s a sure tackler with tons of length who has enough fluidity considering his size. Westry was originally a 2019 UDFA signed to the Dallas Cowboys out of Kentucky.
Westry has 33¾-inch arms, an 81¾-inch wingspan, with a timed 4.36 40-yard dash and a 1.55 10-yard split at his pro day in 2019. He also jumped 38 inches in the vertical. The Giants should look to add Westry with their current secondary depth.
Jalen Wydermyer, TE
The Bills cut ties with the productive rookie Texas A&M product. The 6’5, 255-pound player had 118 receptions for 1,468 yards and 16 touchdowns through three seasons. Many projected Wydermyer as an early dDay 3 selection before an abysmal pro day drastically sank his draft stock and he went undrafted.
He’s not a great athlete, nor was he a dominant blocker; however, he’s faster and more explosive than his 5.03 40-yard dash would indicate, and he can lose slow enough as a blocker.
The Giants aren’t solidified at tight end, and Wydermyer is only 21 years old. Schoen knows the front office in Buffalo; if there’s something wrong with Wydermyer’s character, he’d be privy. If not, why not see what he’s got? He ultimately may not crack the roster, but he’s worth a look.
Jason Spriggs, OT
Spriggs was a second-round selection by the Green Bay Packers in 2016. Known for his athletic upside and height, Spriggs entered the NFL running a 4.94 40-yard dash at 6’6, 301 pounds.
He’s played 968 career snaps, never fully earning a starting spot. He has surrendered 49 pressures and 10 sacks in 647 pass blocking reps during his career. Spriggs bounced around after the Packers released him in 2018; he wasn’t on an NFL roster in 2019 but signed with the Bears in 2020 and the Falcons in 2021. The Colts most recently cut ties with Spriggs.
Spriggs hasn’t come close to living up to his second-round draft selection, and it’s possible he never will. However, after Matt Gono’s retirement, the Giants need players to compete for depth spots at tackle. New York’s discussed the importance of using quickness on the offensive line to dictate terms to the defense. Spriggs is a good athlete, so maybe the Giants can find some use for him.
Vernon Butler or Jaleel Johnson, DT
The Giants added Nick Williams to their defensive line room at the start of training camp, but there’s no reason not to breed competition behind Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence. Butler was a 2016 first-round pick by Dave Gettleman in Carolina and spent the last two seasons with Joe Schoen in Buffalo.
Over the last two seasons, the now 28-year-old played 713 snaps in Leslie Frazier’s defense, recording 24 pressures and zero sacks. Butler is 6’4, 330 pounds, and he predominantly plays nose, 1-technique, 2i-shade, and sometimes 3-technique. Butler offers more pass-rushing upside than a player like Justin Ellis.
Pro Football Focus did not look at Butler’s 2021 season favorably. His best season to date was 2019, his last year in Carolina in Eric Washington’s defense. Washington now serves as the Bills’ defensive line coach.
Johnson was known for significant impact plays at Iowa (see Iowa’s upset victory over Michigan, 2016), but his NFL career hasn’t been smooth. He has 37 career pressures and seven sacks to his name; not terrible at all, but he hasn’t maximized his 6’3, 316 pound frame as a run defender.
Johnson has some upside as a 28- year-old, and he played four seasons under Giants’ current defensive line coach Andre Patterson. He was most recently released by the New Orleans Saints. If something happens to any of the Giants current defensive lineman, Johnson isn’t a bad fall-back option to bring in for depth.