The New York Giants have a great history with undrafted free agents.
Everybody remembers Rex Ryan wondering who “number three” was, as he torched the Jets for three touchdowns in a preseason game. But many of the “glue guys” that have held Giants’ teams together have been UDFAs. Rich Seubert, Shaun O’Hara, Henry Hynoski, Jake Ballard, Mark Herzlich, Spencer Paysinger, Chase Blackburn, and the returning Andrew Adams all started their careers as undrafted free agents.
So this begs the question: Who’s going to be the next UDFA to make the Giants’ roster, and make them better?
Bleacher Report singles out safety Yusuf Corker in a piece that tries to identify the UDFA most likely to make each team’s final roster.
They cite the injury to fellow rookie safety Dane Belton as opening the door for Corker to survive final cuts and make the 53-man roster.
Corker certainly does have a path to the final roster. We’ve already seen that defensive coordinator Wink Martindale intends to use a lot of sub-packages in the Giants’ defense, and has already made heavy use of nickel and dime packages with three safeties on the field. The Giants are going to need significant depth if they’re going to rely on their secondary as much as it appears they will.
However, Corker doesn’t have a perfectly clear path to the roster. He’s in competition with Andrew Adams and former Jaguar Jarrod Wilson at the safety position. Both veterans far outclass Corker in experience with 68 NFL starts between them (33 for Wilson, 35 for Adams). The Giants have a relatively young roster and they might value veteran depth more than youthful enthusiasm.
Corker also has some intriguing competition elsewhere on the roster, namely in H-Back Jeremiah Hall.
Hall has several things going for him in his pursuit of a roster spot. Foremost, he has a relatively unique skillset among the Giants’ skill position players. He has a compact, powerful build and experience lining up as a tight end and fullback. He can effectively block from both alignments and give the Giants the ability to change looks on the fly, which is useful for an offense that wants to make use of motion and deception.
Hall also has surprising ability as a receiver, particularly in catch-and-run situations. He isn’t a dynamic athlete, but he has soft, reliable hands, runs solid routes, and his 6-foot-1, 240 pound frame makes him hard to bring down in the open field. Hall finished his college career at Oklahoma with 12 receiving touchdowns and an average of 11.1 yards per catch. His build and experience allow him to be used in ways that pass coverages tend to overlook, and that could be exploited by Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka.
Of course, there’s no reason why both UDFA’s can’t make the roster. As noted above, the Giants’ defense will likely need a bunch of defensive backs — both to execute Martindale’s schemes and to weather the attrition at the position. At the same time, the Giants’ depth at tight end isn’t inspiring, they lack a “power” option in their backfield, and Hall’s versatility seems to fit what the team wants to do on offense.
We could see both undrafted players make the Giants roster and be valuable contributors.