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Can Makai Polk stand out among Giants’ WRs?

Polk has yet to take an NFL snap

NFL: International Series-New York Giants Practice Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In his final college season, Makai Polk was arguably the best wide receiver in the SEC. His record-breaking year did not lead to his name being called on draft day. It does, though, mean Polk could still be harboring some unseen talent as he enters his second NFL season. What will he have to do to stick around with the New York Giants for another year?

By the numbers

Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 197
Age: 21
Position: Wide receiver
Experience: 1
Contract: One-year, $750,000 deal | 2023 cap hit: $750,000

Career to date

Polk’s breakout college season came in 2021, when he transferred to Mississippi State. He broke single-season school records with 1,046 receiving yards and 105 catches, the latter of which led the SEC. He’s one of only four players in the SEC since 2000 to top 1,000 receiving yards, 100 receptions and nine touchdowns in a season.

NFL Draft Buzz had Polk graded as a sixth-round pick. They evaluated him as a versatile player with potential to play in the slot or as a vertical threat, though noted that his lack of speed and wiry frame could keep him from excelling in any one area.

Polk also had a strong Relative Athletic Score as a prospect, though some of that stems only from his 6-foot-3 height.

Polk signed with the Baltimore Ravens in 2022 as an undrafted free agent. He began the season on their practice squad but was cut in late September. The Giants signed him to their practice squad one day later, where he spent the rest of the season. He was elevated to the main roster for the Giants’ Divisional Round game against the Philadelphia Eagles but did not see the field.

2023 outlook

We’ve talked a lot over the past few weeks about the Giants’ depth at wide receiver this year, which will likely leave inexperienced players like Polk on the outside looking in.

Polk at least has one year of experience with the Giants as part of their practice squad, which is one of the biggest things he has going for him. His height also helps him stand out from the team’s surplus of shorter, speedy receivers. He’s also known for having good ball skills and natural instincts for the receiver position.

However, the number of options at wideout might make it hard for Polk to even stay on the practice squad. Kalil Pimpleton offers more special teams utility, including his potential ability as a punt returner. Rookie undrafted free agent Bryce Ford-Wheaton arguably offers more upside than Polk, if only because the Giants have yet to see what he can do in the preseason.

Still, Polk is only 21 years old. He’s still learning the game. It’s possible he flashes something in training camp after a year of development in the NFL that makes the Giants’ brass keep him on the practice squad in hopes of unlocking untapped potential.