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Rookie mini-camp preview: Which New York Giants rookies will have memorable weekends?

Giants get their draft class on the field for the first time Friday and Saturday

NFL: New York Giants Rookie Minicamp
Offensive line work at the 2022 rookie mini-camp.
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants will hold their rookie mini-camp on Friday and Saturday, marking the first time they will be able to get their 2023 draft class on the practice field. Media has access to both workouts. Here are some of the storylines to follow.

First impressions

The first time on the field for these players, even in a relatively low-key setting like rookie mini-camp without pads on, is always interesting. There are almost always things that happen that stick in your memory as you watch, at least it has been that way for me.

These things don’t make or break careers, obviously, but they might be a foreshadowing of some of what is to come. Some examples:

  • I remember watching David Wilson, first-round pick in 2012, do ‘The Worm’ a couple of times after making plays during his first practice and thinking ‘this guy will never fit with Tom Coughlin.’ Wilson, sadly, saw his career end after two seasons due to a neck injury. Honestly, I never got the idea that Wilson was a comfortable fit with Coughlin and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.
  • I remember listening to a very uncomfortable Ereck Flowers barely put sentences together while speaking to media and thinking ‘this guy does not have the personality to handle this market.’ He didn’t.
  • I remember watching Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. in their first practices and realizing how much different it looked when they moved than it did when anyone else around them did.
  • I remember watching Darius Slayton drop pass after perfect pass from Daniel Jones in their first 2019 practice together, and Jones afterwards taking Slayton off the hook by saying he needed to throw him better balls. I remember realizing right then why there were so many Jones-Eli Manning comparisons, because that is exactly what Manning would have done.
  • I remember watching Kadarius Toney not make it through either of the two rookie mini-camp practices and thinking ‘uh-oh, this might be a disaster.’ We know what happened.
  • I remember feeling, seeing and hearing Kayvon Thibodeaux’s presence all over the place during last year’s mini-camp.

Who will make a memorable impression this year? We will find out over the next couple of days.

Matchup I want to see

This one is easy. Cornerback Deonte Banks, the Giants’ first-round pick, against wide receiver Jalin Hyatt, the team’s third-round pick. Both players can fly, with Banks timed at 4.35 in the 40-yard dash and Hyatt 4.4.

Practices are only one-hour and 15 minutes each day, and there won’t be a whole lot of 1-on-1. I will, though, be tuned in if and when those two exciting youngsters are matched up.

Undrafted free agents

Chris Pflum gave you the full list of reported undrafted free agent signings and tryout players, with brief reports on the UDFAs. It is always important to remember that those lists are all ‘reported’ and not official until the Giants announce the signings — which they have not — or we see those players on the field Friday.

Here are a couple of the players to watch:

Bryce Ford-Wheaton, WR, West Virginia — Dan Duggan of The Athletic reported that Ford-Wheaton is getting $236K guaranteed from the Giants, a full season’s practice squad salary ($216K) plus a $20,000 bonus. The Giants obviously think Ford-Wheaton is a player they want to work with. His spider chart tells you why they are willing to take the chance:

Habakkuk Baldonado, EDGE, Pittsburgh — This dude is from Rome, Italy, didn’t know what football was until he became a teen-ager and didn’t try to play it seriously until the age of 16. I need to see this.

Tommy DeVito, QB, Illinois — I have no idea if the Giants think DeVito is a serious candidate to make their practice squad.

What about the invitees?

You can’t run a practice with just eight or nine players. There will be a couple dozen players invited to try out for a spot on the 90-man roster. Inevitably, a couple will be signed.

From the sideline as we watch practice, we alway try to guess who is standing out and who those players might be. Honestly, we almost always get it wrong. It is often impossible to know which tryout player or players the staff is really interested in until we find out which players are signed at the conclusion of the mini-camp.