Wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton leads undrafted free agents likely to stay with Giants


May 16, 2023 | 7:39 p.m.

The Giants’ current roster is not the one they will take in the regular-season opener against the rival Cowboys on Sept. 10.

There will be a lot of changes and modifications by then.

There will be some surprise inclusions and maybe some surprise exclusions.

The list is never a finished product.

“We don’t play until September in terms of the regular season, so if we miss something somewhere, we’ll keep looking,” general manager Joe Schoen said.

The Giants believe in the no-nonsense approach.

The vast majority of players invited to the recently completed rookie minicamp were very long shots to earn the opportunity to return.

It does happen though, although rarely.

Bryce Ford Wheaton
Noah K. Murray – NY Post

“You never know what you’ll discover here,” coach Brian Daboll said.

Of the 73 players in rookie camp, seven were selected in the 2023 draft and nine were signed as undrafted free agents.

There were 57 players invited on a trial basis – an extremely large group – indicating the approach this Giants regime prefers at this time of year: the more the better.

A year ago, defensive end Ryder Anderson attended rookie camp as a tryout.

Edge rusher Tomon Fox was in camp as an undrafted free agent.

Anderson and Fox ended up staying and making the team.

With undrafted free agents, it’s often advisable to follow the money when it comes to evaluating roster opportunity.

West Virginia wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton signed for $236,000, all fully guaranteed.

A freshman who spends all 18 weeks on the practice squad this season will earn $216,000, which means the Giants plan to keep Ford-Wheaton on the program.

There’s room for a big physical target, and Ford-Wheaton, at 6-foot-3, 224 pounds, qualifies from a physical standpoint.

Habacuc Baldonado

He should also have value as a gunner on special teams.

Other undrafted players are receiving higher-than-standard guaranteed money from the Giants: Toledo inside linebacker Dyontae Johnson ($175,000), East Carolina tight end Ryan Jones ($125,000 ), Pittsburgh defensive lineman Habakkuk Baldonado ($115,000) and Michigan cornerback Germon Green ($105,000).

“It starts in the boardroom,” Daboll said, “in terms of how they pick up on things and the things they ask for. You do individual exercises, as if you were going over there and doing a workout for a prospective student. For the big ones, it’s difficult, for the more skilful, it’s a little better to evaluate.

“It’s difficult, to have fifty guys on trial, it’s difficult to do. You don’t have a lot of spots available, so they have to stand out in the class, on the training ground, how they do things. If you see something that catches your eye, you do a little more research on it.”

Anderson played his college ball at Mississippi and then Indiana, was not selected in the 2022 draft and signed with the Giants in mid-May of last year.

He was easy to spot on the field, an impressive 6-foot-6, 276-pound athlete.

Anderson showed enough that summer and, after he didn’t make the final cut, he was immediately signed to the practice squad.

Anderson ended up playing seven games, starting twice. He finished with two sacks and eight tackles and is back on the roster, again looking to make his mark.

“I just remember him in camp as a big, long player and kind of stood out from the defensive staff and worked his way there,” Daboll said. “Again, it’s one in many, 50 or whatever, so it’s hard to do, no doubt. That’s why we bring in a lot of players to [rookie] camp. You can do this in different ways. We like to bring in lots of people and maybe find a guy or two that you think can help you out and work with them. ”

Fox, a burly 6-foot-3, 260-pound outside linebacker, had more sacks (29.5) in his college career at North Carolina than Lawrence Taylor had played for the Tar Heels.

Fox, however, went undrafted and last year was the only undrafted player on the Giants’ roster. He ended up playing 16 games, mostly in a special teams role, and had 24 tackles and a sack.

In the weeks and months to come, others will have the chance to do something to hang around as long as possible.

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