The University of Pittsburgh sent six draftees to the NFL, highlighted by defensive lineman Calijah Kancey, in the 2023 NFL Draft. One of their undrafted free agents, Habakkuk Baldonado, will try to add to his alma mater’s NFL presence by finding a role with the New York Giants. He’s looking at a tall task, though.
By the numbers
Position: Outside linebacker/edge defender
Contract: Three years, $2,695,000 | 2023 cap hit: $750,000
Career to date
Originally from Rome, Baldonado was a fifth-year senior with Pitt in 2018. His first season as a full-time starter did not come until 2021, as injuries caused him to miss eight games in 2020. He also missed another three in 2022. In that first full-time season, Baldonado was named a second-team All-ACC player after posting 11.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks.
Baldonado was not as successful in 2022, as his numbers declined to five TFLs and two sacks. He was named to the All-ACC Academic Football Team. He posted a Pro Football Focus grade of 70.3, including 75.3 in run defense and 69.6 as a pass rusher.
Baldonado went undrafted and was subsequently signed by the Giants as a free agent.
Baldonado lined up at the traditional edge position for most of his snaps in college, but he is primarily an even-front defensive end. He is listed as an outside linebacker on the Giants’ depth chart and is fighting for an edge spot in Wink Martindale’s 3-4 defense.
However, with Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari entrenched at the starting edge spots and Jihad Ward figuring to garner a chunk of snaps on run defense, there isn’t a ton of room on the depth chart. Oshane Ximines was also re-signed recently for depth, narrowing the spots even further.
Baldonado will be competing against players like Tomon Fox and Elerson Smith. With a likely five-man rotation on the defensive line, it’s not entirely certain that the Giants will even carry a fifth edge defender.
According to Baldonado’s NFL.com pre-draft scouting profile from Lance Zierlein, he needs some more urgency and motor on a play-by-play basis.
Baldonado is likely seeking to earn a practice squad spot.