American Football

2023 NFL Draft: New York Giants UDFA roundup


NFL: Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton could be the player to watch

The dust from the 2023 NFL Draft has settled and the frenzy surrounding undrafted free agency has subsided. The New York Giants have garnered wide-spread praise for their work in the draft itself, but what about their work after the draft in attracting UDFAs?

One player, West Virginia receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton stands out among the rest. He was widely predicted to be drafted in the middle rounds and it’s a surprise that he fell out of the draft entirely.

The Giants, of course, have nine other undrafted free agents, several of whom offer intriguing traits and could make things interesting over the coming weeks and months.

The UDFA situation — and the back end of the roster in general — is always very fluid and will remain so for a long while yet. There will still be plenty of churn even after camp starts and into the 2023 season. So for now, let’s take a minute to go over the Giants’ confirmed undrafted free agents, as well as take a look at the players invited to the Rookie Mini-Camp.

We’ll update with any players 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 an modestly-sized (6-foot-1, 210 pound) and relatively old (he’ll be 25 in August) quarterback prospect. He also only has one year of good production, which was his lone season at Illinois after transferring from Syracuse in 2022. Taken together explains why he was passed over on the Day 3 quarterback frenzy.

DeVito does, however, has some intriguing traits that could make him interesting to follow through the offseason and preseason.

DeVito is a timing and rhythm passer who appeared very comfortable in Illinois’ RPO and half-field offense. He has a decently-strong arm and a very compact throwing motion that lead to a quick and efficient release. He had a strong season in 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, accounting for 10 touchdowns on the ground. DeVito will need to work on consistency in his lower body mechanics to help his ball placement, but he has a chance to make the team as the QB3 (or at least earn a practice squad job as such).

Bryce Ford-Wheaton, WR, West Virginia
Frankly, I was surprised to see Ford-Wheaton go undrafted and I had an early Day-3 grade on him. He is a big, physical receiver who manages to look lanky despite his 6-foot-3, 220 pound frame. Ford-Wheaton had himself an excellent combine, testing out as “elite” in pretty much ever area except his 3-cone drill. In fact, his athletic testing was almost as surprising as him 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 41-inch vertical coming.

Ford-Wheaton still needs to work on honing his craft as a receiver, and that could have hid some of his athleticism. He needs to improve his route running and consistency as a receiver, but he seems to have plenty of competitive toughness. It’s entirely possible that Bryce Ford-Wheaton’s best football is still ahead of him and he emerges as a star from this UDFA class.

[Prospect profile]

Ryan Jones, TE/FB, East Carolina
Jones is listed as a “tight end”, but his 6-foot-1, 245 pound frame just screams “fullback” — perhaps a move to “H-Back” is in his future. Jones has an interesting path to the Giants. He started his collegiate career in as a linebacker for Oklahoma in 2018 and 2019, before transferring to ECU and playing tight end in 2021 and 2022.

He was a pretty important part of their receiving game, catching 78 passes for 855 yards (11.0 per catch), and 9 touchdowns over the last two years. He’ll likely need some work to reach his ceiling, though he did show some natural hands and toughness in the tape 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, 287 pounds. His stocky frame, however, belies some impressive athleticism. He’s a sudden athlete with a 1.72 10-yard split and 35-inch vertical leap, as well as pretty impressive lateral agility.

He managed 31 reps on the bench press, though he probably shouldn’t be counted as block-eating run stuffer. Instead, Sanders seems to be at his most effective when using his leverage and agility to get skinny and disrupt behind the line of scrimmage.

Habakkuk Baldonado, EDGE, Pittsburgh
Roman-born (yes, he was born in Rome, Italy) red-shirt sophomore is a good-sized edge defender at 6-foot-4, 251 pounds with 33-inch arms. He’s an impressive linear athlete who flashes a good get-off when he keys the snap well. He is a bit of an upright and stiff rusher, which shows whenever he has to win with speed on the outside or change direction in close quarters. As a result, he plays more like a 4-3 power rusher than the speed-rushing EDGE he resembles.

Baldonado suffered season-ending injuries in 2020 and 2022, but was productive in 2021, suggesting that he has untapped upside.

Troy Brown, LB, Ole Miss
Brown started his college career at Central Michigan in 2018 before transferring to Ole Miss prior to the 2022 season. Brown was very productive at Central Michigan, racking up 212 tackles, 32.5 for a loss, 6.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 12 passes defensed, and 5 interceptions in 38 games. His production dipped a bit at Ole Miss, with 93 tackles, 2.5 for a loss, 0.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 5 passes defensed.

Brown is undersized at 6-foot, 220 pounds and has a good burst and short-area quickness. He has very light feet in coverage and is a quick-striding runner. So he’s able to change direction relatively easily, but he can’t really lengthen his stride and slows over a distance. Brown could push for a job on special teams and as a nickel linebacker.

Dyontae Johnson, LB, Toledo
Dyontae Johnson (not to be confused with 2019 3rd round pick Dionte Johnson, also of Toledo) is a very experienced linebacker, playing in 57 games over his 5-years at Toledo. He was also very productive over that time period, though a better run defender than coverage player. He has adequate size for the position at 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, and a strong initial burst.

Johnson appears smart and a quick processor on tape, and is very willing to play downhill and get his hands dirty. That said, he isn’t a great athlete in space, struggling to change direction and run down players in pursuit. As with most of these players, Johnson will need to prove himself on special teams.

Gemon Green, CB, Michigan
Green is a good-sized (6-foot-1, 183 pound) corner with intriguing explosive traits, as evidenced by a 1.50-second 10-yard split, 38-inch vertical, and 10-foot-6 broad jump. He was primarily a reserve corner on Michigan’s deep defense, and could have upside as a special teams player.

As a coverage player, Green is probably best in off coverage. He has limited agility and change of direction ability, and struggles to stay in phase with receivers through sharp breaks. Off coverage will allow him to play to his strengths — as would playing on special teams.

Alex Cook, S, Washington
Alex Cook is a versatile safety with okay size, but poor athletic traits. He played as both a deep safety and near the line of scrimmage in Washington’s defense and was at his best when playing downhill. Cook is a smart safety who’s a willing run defender and tackler, but he’s pretty tight in his lower half and struggles to stay in phase with receivers.

He has enough room on his 6-foot, 195-pound frame to add additional size, which might be his best bet going forward. His willingness and competitive toughness playing downhill could get him a look on special teams, but he might be best as a STAR safety/linebacker hybrid in big nickel or dime sets.

Cameron Lyons, LS, Charlotte
Lyons is an undersized long-snapper at 6-foot, 230 pounds (Casey Kreiter is 250 pounds, Zak DeOssie was 249), however he does have solid speed to get downfield with a 5.01 second 40-yard dash (2.84 20-yard split).

Lyons will likely serve to keep reps off of Kreiter to help ensure the Giants’ starting longsnapper stays healthy through the off and pre-season. If he executes well and allows the special teams to perform well, Lyons could well be one of the favorites to land on the Giants’ practice squad.

Rookie mini-camp invites

The Giants will hold their annual rookie mini-camp this weekend, and there are could be additional signings to come out of the event. We’ll update if there are any surprising or intriguing signings after this weekend, but for now, these are the players who have been invited to the Giants’ rookie camp.

  • Haaziq Daniels, QB/RB, Air Force
  • Hunter Johnson, QB, Clemson
  • Ike Irabor, RB, Union College
  • Peter Oliver, RB, Holy Cross
  • Carlos Carriere, WR, Central Michigan
  • Garett Maag, WR, North Dakota
  • Tarique Milton, WR, Texas
  • Kemore Gamble, TE, UCF
  • Ahofitu Maka, C, UTSA
  • Khalil Keith, OT, Baylor
  • Ami Finau, DL, Maryland
  • Lwal Uguak, DL, TCU
  • Quinn Perry, LB, Colorado
  • O’Rien Vance, LB, Iowa State
  • Morgan Vest, S, Northern Arizona
  • Eli Weber, S, Augustana

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