The New York Giants selected Houston safety Gervarrius Owens with the 254th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Owens was a team captain for the Cougars who started 42 of 46 games after arriving on campus as a JUCO transfer from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
Owens has utility as a defensive player, specifically in coverage, but he must improve his pursuit angles and tackling to earn a role on defense. However, he does have 361 collegiate special teams snaps under his belt, with two blocked punts. Owens’ ability to positively affect the Giants’ special teams may be his least hindered path to the 53-man roster.
Giants’ special teams' coordinator Thomas McGaughey’s son Trent is a tight end at the University of Houston and was a teammate of Gervarrius Owens. When asked if he knew Thomas McGaughey before the draft, this is how Owens responded,
“I had some people definitely tell me he was up here,” Owens said. “He came over there after practice and talked to me, just letting me know everything. But yeah, his son, Trent, is one of our tight ends at Houston, definitely good people, too. But yeah, Coach came over there, spoke to me. He told me he played safety, too, at Houston, so yeah, I’m going to definitely be talking to him a lot.”
That’s an interesting connection for McGaughey and Owens. Not only was McGaughey’s son a teammate of Owens, but McGaughey was also a safety for the Houston Cougars in the mid-nineties.
Owens later stated that he can play any special teams role and that he used to play on kickoff, punt, and punt block early in his Houston career - a career where the coaching staff stressed attention to detail.
When asked if what he learned in Houston is translatable to the NFL, Owens responded, “Yes, sir, just priding ourselves on being able to make plays in the back end. If we mess up, then that shows up on the scoreboard, so just trying to be as detailed and polished as possible. That’s kind of what Coach (Doug) Belk and Coach (Brian) Early and Coach (David) Rowe and all of them preached at Houston so just being able to transition, talked to the coaches a couple times. They seemed like some real detailed guys, so I felt like we could take advantage of it.”
The 23-year-old is embracing a blue-collar mindset. “Somebody that’s willing to come in from day one, a hard-hat guy,” Owens responded when asked what kind of player the Giants were getting. “Do the work every single day, making corrections, cleaning up footwork and things like that. Just learning the defense and stuff and just getting everybody ready.”
That’s the desired mindset that NFL coaches and fans want in every player on the roster. For a seventh-round pick, the battle uphill is steep; Owens will have little room for error to earn a 53-man roster spot. Still, the departure of Julian Love left a possible long-term role on the defense open if players like Dane Belton can’t A7X the job and Seize the Day.
As of right now, Owens is reveling in the moment. He deserves A Little Piece of Heaven, but having the Giants say Welcome to the Family at the end of training camp would be his Sunny Disposition.
“It was just crazy,” Owens said of his first day of rookie mini-camp, “just first day, like I said, you dream of this moment so long, then it hits you. Like the first day, me, (Deonte) Banks, and Trey Hawkins running out to the field like, man, it’s time, we’re really here. Just trying to soak everything in, but at the same time everything is so fresh, so it’s just kind of all over the place.
The first day was definitely a blessing. Got in, got some good work together, so kind of just getting acclimated to everything, but it’s a blessing. That’s all I can really say.”
Owens was also asked about relationship with fellow rookie DBs Deonte Banks and Trey Hawkins III. He said, “We already kind of got a good relationship Me and Trey actually trained together, combine prep and stuff like that, down in Fort Lauderdale, so we’ve kind of been knowing each other over the past months. Tae, he’s just one of those guys you can just walk in day one and he’s just good vibes, good people. There are no egos or nothing. You can just tell you’re around good people for sure.”
It appears like Owens is dialed in and ingratiated himself well with his surroundings. He has a long summer of work ahead of him. Let the competition begin!