The dust has settled from the 2023 NFL Draft and the frenzy surrounding undrafted free agency has subsided. The New York Giants drew widespread praise for their work in the draft itself, but what about their post-draft work in attracting the UDFAs?
One player, West Virginia player Bryce Ford-Wheaton stands out among the rest. He was widely expected to be drafted in the middle rounds and it’s surprising that he fell out of the draft completely.
The Giants, of course, have nine other uncredited free agents, many of whom offer interesting traits and could keep things interesting over the coming weeks and months.
The positioning of the UDFA – and the back end of the table in general – has always been very resilient and will be for a long time yet. There will still be plenty of upsets even after camp begins and into the 2023 season. So for now, let’s take a minute to go over the Giants’ confirmed free agents, as well as take a look at the players invited to the Rookie Mini-Camp.
We’ll update with any players who are signed out of the Rookie Mini Camp. Also, keep in mind that these are unofficial as the Giants have not announced any of these reported signings.
Tommy DeVito, QB, Illinois
DeVito is a medium-sized quarterback (6-foot-1, 210 pounds) and relatively old (he will turn 25 in August). He also has only one year of quality production, which was his only season at Illinois after moving from Syracuse in 2022. Our take together explains why he was passed over in the Day 3 quarterback craze.
However, DeVito does have some interesting traits that could make him interesting to watch in the preseason and preseason.
DeVito is a passer with timing and rhythm who seemed very comfortable in the Illinois RPO offense and half the field. He has a decently strong arm and a very compact throwing motion that results in quick and efficient shooting. He had a solid season on that offense, completing 69.6 percent of his passes for 2,650 yards (7.2 per attempt), 15 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions.
He’s also a good athlete who can pick up yards with his legs, which accounts for 10 touchdowns on the ground. DeVito will need to work on consistency in his lower-body mechanics to help with ball positioning, but he has a chance of making the team in a QB3 role (or at least earning a coaching staff job as such).
Bryce Ford Wheaton, WR, West Virginia
Honestly, I was surprised to see an unpolished Ford-Wheaton and got to it as early as the third day. He’s a big physical receiver who can look skinny despite his 6-foot-3 frame and 220 pounds. Ford-Wheaton had an excellent combination, testing as the “elite” in almost any area except its 3 cone auger. In fact, his athletic test was almost as surprising as not being drafted. I thought he was a “good but not great” athlete on his tape and didn’t see a 4.39 40-yard dash or a 41-inch come-back header.
Ford-Wheaton still needs to work on honing his craft as a receiver, and that may mask some of his athleticism. He needs to improve his running and consistency as a receiver, but he seems to have a lot of competitive toughness. It is entirely possible that Bryce Ford Wheaton’s best football is still ahead of him and he emerges as a star of this UDFA class.
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Ryan Jones, TE/FB, East Carolina
Jones is listed as a “tight end,” but his 6-foot-1, 245-pound frame just screams “Defender”—a move to an “H-Back” may be in his future. Jones is an interesting track for giants. He began his collegiate career at linebacker for Oklahoma in 2018 and 2019, before moving to ECU and eventually playing in 2021 and 2022.
He has been a very important part of their receiving game, catching 78 passes for 855 yards (11.0 per pass), and 9 touchdowns over the past two years. It will likely need some work to get to its ceiling, though it did show some natural hand and durability in the bar I was able to get my hands on.
Caleb Sanders, iDL, South Dakota State
Sanders is a compact and energetic defensive tackle at 6-foot-1, 287 pounds. However, his stocky frame belies some impressive athleticism. He’s surprisingly athletic with a vertical leap of 1.72 10 yards 35 inches, as well as impressive lateral agility.
He’s turned 31 reps on the bench press, though he probably shouldn’t be considered a block-eating operator. Instead, Sanders appears to be most effective when using his leverage and agility to get lean and snarky behind the line of scrimmage.
Habakkuk Baldonado, Edge, Pittsburgh
The Roman-born (yes, he was born in Rome, Italy) redshirt sophomore is a well-sized fullback at 6-foot-4, 251 pounds with a 33-inch arm. He’s an impressive linear athlete who pulls off well when he punches well. He’s a bit of a straight, solid snob, who shows when he has to win quickly on the outside or change direction at close quarters. As a result, he plays more like a 4-3 sprint than an EDGE which is more like his sprint.
Baldonado struggled with season-ending injuries in 2020 and 2022, but has been productive in 2021, suggesting he had an untapped upside.
Troy Brown, left back, Be a miss
Brown began his college career at Central Michigan in 2018 before transferring to Ole Miss prior to the 2022 season. Brown has been very productive at Central Michigan, tallying 212 tackles, 32.5 for loss, 6.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 12 passes defensed, And 5 interceptions in 38 games. His production fell slightly at Ole Miss, with 93 tackles, 2.5 for loss, 0.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 5 passes defensed.
The Brown is smaller than 6-foot 220 pounds and has good burst speed and short area. He has light feet in coverage and is a fast paced runner. So he is able to change direction relatively easily, but he can’t really lengthen his stride and slow down for a distance. It could pay the Browns to get a job on special teams and as a nickelball captain.
Deontay Johnson, LB, Toledo
Dyontae Johnson (not to be confused with 2019 3rd round pick Dionte Johnson, also from Toledo) is a very experienced player, playing in 57 games over 5 years in Toledo. He was also very productive during that time period, although he was a better defender than cover player. He has a decent size for the pose at 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, and a powerful initial blast.
Johnson looks smart and a quick handler on the tape, very willing to play on the slopes and get his hands dirty. However, he is not a great space athlete, struggling to change direction and frustrating players in pursuit of him. As with most of these players, Johnson will need to prove himself on special teams.
Jemon Green, CB, Michigan
Green is a good-sized angler (6-foot-1, 183 pounds) with intriguing explosive attributes, as evidenced by his 1.50-second 10-yard split, 38-inch vertical, and 10-foot-6 wide jump. He was primarily a backup cornerback in Michigan’s deep defense, and he could have had an upside as a special team player.
As a coverage player, Green is probably best at coverage outside of coverage. He has limited agility and ability to change direction, and struggles to stay in sync with receivers through sharp breaks. The outside coverage will allow him to play to his strengths – such as he would play on special teams.
Alex Cook, S, Washington
Alex Cook is a versatile safety tackle with a good size, but bad sporting traits. He played a deep safety close to the line of scrimmage on the Washington defense and was at his best when playing on the slopes. Cook is a smart safe who is a defender and a willing running back, but he’s very tight in the lower half of his body and struggles to stay in phase with the receivers.
He has enough room on his 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame to add extra bulk, which might be his best bet for the future. His desire and competitive toughness to play on the slopes could get him a look at special teams, but he might be best as a hybrid star safety/linebacker in big nickel or dime combinations.
Cameron Lyons, LS, Charlotte
Leon is a 6-foot-1, 230-pound snapper (Casey Kreiter is 250 pounds and Zach DeOssie was 249), yet he’s got plenty of speed to get down with a 40-yard dash of 5.01 seconds (2.84 20-yard split).
The Lions will likely work to keep the cast away from Kreiter to help ensure the Giants’ starting longtime player stays healthy during the hiatus and pre-season. If he performs well and allows the special teams to perform well, Lyon could be one of the favorites to join the Giants’ coaching lineup.
Rookie mini-camp calls
The Giants will hold their annual rookie mini-camp this weekend, and there may be additional signings out of the event. We’ll update if there are any surprising or interesting signings after this weekend, but for now, these are the players invited to the Giants’ rookie camp.
- Hazek Daniels, QB/RB, Air Force
- Hunter Johnson, QB, Clemson
- Ike Irabor, RB, Union College
- Peter Oliver, Right Back, Holy Cross
- Carlos Carrier, WR, Central Michigan
- Garrett Fall, WR, North Dakota
- Tariq Melton, WR, Texas
- Keimore Gamble, TE, UCF
- Ahovito Maca, C, Utah
- Khalil Keith, OT, Baylor
- Ami Finau, DL, Maryland
- Lwal Uguak, DL, TCU
- Queen Berry, LB, Colorado
- O’Rien Vance, LB, Iowa State
- Morgan Vest, S, Northern Arizona
- Eli Weber, S, Augustana