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Can Bryce Ford-Wheaton add missing dimension to Giants’ receiver room?

Ford-Wheaton was the Giants’ biggest UDFA investment this offseason

West Virginia v Texas Tech
Bryce Ford-Wheaton
Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

After a season in which they seemingly couldn’t buy a wide receiver with talent, the New York Giants enter 2023 with a roster crunch at the position. While more doesn’t necessarily mean better, the Giants do have quite a few intriguing names in their corps.

Bryce Ford-Wheaton is of a higher profile than a typical undrafted free agent entering such a crowded group due to the $216,000 guaranteed salary and $20,000 signing bonus the Giants gave him. Still, he has a steep uphill battle ahead to come out of the pack.

By the numbers

Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 224
Age: 23
Position: Wide receiver
Experience: Rookie
Contract: three years, $2,715,000 | $236,000 guaranteed at signing | 2023 cap hit: $756,666

Career to date

Ford-Wheaton was signed by the Giants as a free agent after going undrafted out of West Virginia this year. He was considered a likely late-round prospect prior to the draft, which may be partially why the Giants guaranteed him that much money. He played 38 games over his four years in college, catching 143 passes for 1,867 yards and 15 touchdowns. His best year was as a senior when he nabbed 62 balls for 675 yards and seven scores.

One of Ford-Wheaton’s biggest issues is drops. Those 62 receptions in 2022 came on 105 targets for just a 59% catch rate, in large part due to six drops for an 8.8% drop rate, which ranked in the 32nd percentile among 135 qualified FBS receivers. NFL receivers typically average about a 5.5% rate, per Pro Football Focus’ stricter accounting of what constitutes a drop, and about 4.8% per Pro Football Reference.

The drop issue has continued to plague him during a pair of OTAs witnessed by media, as he dropped easy receptions in each workout.

2023 outlook

Considering that the Giants already have a few receivers who struggle with their hands, including Darius Slayton and Jalin Hyatt, the team is unlikely to go for a fringe roster player with unreliable hands. Ford-Wheaton will need to work on that above all else to have a shot at earning a roster spot.

In an initial assessment of the Giants’ roster, it would appear that Ford-Wheaton is battling with Collin Johnson for a backup outside receiver spot, specifically one for big-bodied targets. Johnson is listed at 6-foot-6 and 220 and also has prior NFL experience with the Giants, but he is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury.

Ford-Wheaton showed some potential as a contested-catch weapon last season, catching 18-of-34 targets (52.9%), which was in the 73rd percentile among FBS receivers. That could be an aspect of his game that will entice the Giants. Additionally, his special teams experience (153 snaps in college) could get him some looks.

It will be a challenge for Ford-Wheaton to crack the roster, but his elite athleticism (9.97 RAS) and superior size could give him a chance to develop with the Giants. If he doesn’t make the roster, look for another team to possibly snap him up before he makes it to the practice squad.