Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports
After the Texans selected Lonnie Ballentine as the annual Mr. Irrelevant at pick #256, league-wide roster bolstering transformed from orderly conduct to an outright race to the telephone.
With a boatload of talented prospects failing to hear their names called through seven agonizing rounds, teams required rapid fire commitments from their desired targets. If not, the next player in their phone book was “on the clock”.
Jerry Reese and the Giants scooped up three players almost immediately, and added six more names in the hours that followed. Here’s the Giants’ full list of nine undrafted free agents, with a fine balance of integrity and athletic promise:
1. Kelcy Quarles, DT South Carolina — With the blocking assignments of SEC foes paying particular attention to Jadeveon Clowney, Quarles feasted on the interior with 9.5 sacks in 2013. He recorded only 3.5 sacks in his first two seasons in Columbia, so there are questions regarding his base level of performance. However, his combination of power and agility led many draft experts to tout him as a mid-round choice. Quarles plays low to the ground despite standing 6’4.
2. Emmanuel Dieke, DE Georgia Tech — According to his agent, Marcus Williams, the Giants spoke highly of Dieke entering the draft. He’s a raw pass rusher with the prototype lengthy frame at 6’6 270 — comparable to Jason Pierre-Paul in this regard. With that said, he’s all physical upside at this stage and will require long-term development. Dieke is coming off shoulder surgery.
3. Xavier Grimble, TE USC — Grimble certainly looks the part, so there’s no surprise he was a highly touted recruit to Southern Cal. He possesses natural receiving skills at 6’5, but his lack of athleticism restricts mismatch potential. He ran a 4.90 40-yard dash the NFL Combine. Rob Rang of CBS Sports compares him to… wait for it… Kellen Davis because of “security blanket” qualities.
4. Kerry Wynn, DE Richmond — Again, he’s got the defensive end build you look for (6’5 265). Wynn is a strong kid — 31 bench press reps of 225 lbs. — but that’s essentially where the intrigue ends. He recorded 2.5 sacks in the CAA (FCS), strained his hamstring during his 40 run and his agility testing was poor.
5. Dan Fox, ILB Notre Dame — Despite a dearth of standout traits, Fox led Notre Dame in tackles as a senior (44 solo) and grabbed two interceptions (including a TD return vs. Arizona State). High character kid with a consistent motor, it’s no wonder he ended up with Big Blue. Special teams contributor down the road?
6. Eathyn Manumaleuna, DT BYU — 25-year old served a two-year Mormon mission and redshirted in 2012 following a knee injury. “Manu” is power personified, but the fact is he’s undersized for an NFL tackle. Solid effort is a given.
7. Justin Anderson, ILB Louisiana-Lafayette — If he was a shade taller and tad bit bulkier, Anderson could have been a legit draft candidate. He possesses explosive athleticism, as buttressed by his 37-inch vertical 6.89 three-cone drill, with the on-field production to match. Anderson averaged double-digit tackles per game in the underrated Sun Belt.
8. Thomas Gordon, SS Michigan — Another undersized athlete with elite hops. Gordon jumped 41 inches at the combine, which he claimed to be his “best vertical jump ever”. At 5’10, 215 his options are limited.
9. C.J. Barnett, SS Ohio State — One back line prospect from each side of “The Game”. Recruited as a four-star cornerback, Barnett was quickly converted to safety because of his aggressive brand of run defense. His knee was surgically repaired in 2010 and he weighs 205 lbs. He’s a defensive back position tweener. Oh by the way, Barnett was a team captain.