The draft has now come and gone, and New York didn’t invest any of their draft capital into the offensive line. But fear not! The Giants may find a gem in these undrafted free agents. After an NFL draft, teams scramble to sign NFL undrafted free agents.
UDFAs can select their destination and put themselves in an optimal position to earn a roster spot while maximizing their gains from a signing bonus perspective. Teams had just north of $123,000 to allocate for 2020 undrafted free agents as a signing bonus last season.
A highly regarded UDFA could command a $50,000 signing bonus, while others may only earn a $5,000 bonus; it’s a rush for teams after the draft to try and get desired players to latch onto their rosters and the signing bonus is one way to entice them.
New York has had success in recent memory with landing undrafted free agents: Victor Cruz, Kerry Wynn, Mark Herzlich, Jake Ballard, and Nick Gates come to mind. They even had some success with Ohio State wide receiver Austin Mack and Dartmouth defensive end Niko Lalos last season.
Let’s hope the Giants strike gold once again and land someone who can make an impression on this 2021 roster. Here are some of the names that have already been reported as having agreed to terms with the Giants; we'll update this list as we learn of others.
DE Raymond Johnson, Georgia Southern
I like the addition of Johnson as an undrafted guy who can compete for a possible role a la Niko Lalos from last season…
These testing metrics are not a great sight to see, but his production was excellent, albeit at a smaller level of competition. He’s played a lot of football and uses his smaller height to his advantage by playing with very good leverage at the point of attack.
He’s not overly explosive or fluid, but he’s a player that has added a lot of muscle in college while showcasing that with good play strength. The Giants drafted two EDGE rushers in Georgia’s Azeez Ojulari and Northern Iowa’s Elerson Smith; maybe a third rookie will be able to crack the roster.
OC Brett Heggie, Florida
I did not evaluate Heggie, but I’ve seen a lot of Florida film this off-season, and Heggie struggled with stronger SEC defenders who pack a powerful punch. He wasn’t someone that drove defenders off the line of scrimmage - that’s not his game.
However, he was technically sound from an angle standpoint, was really impressive with his processing ability in blitz pickup, and he’s quick when asked to kick out into space. He’s also versatile and has played both guard spots and center.
Heggie may follow the same route that Rhode Island’s Kyle Murphy found himself on last season--a practice squad interior offensive lineman. I would argue that Murphy has more upside, but a smart center with good angles of attack isn’t a bad investment in undrafted free agency.
OL Jake Burton, Baylor
The UCLA transfer played one season at Baylor, predominantly at right guard. However, he played most of his UCLA snaps at right tackle, with a few snaps on the left side at tackle.
Joe Judge loves positional versatility along the offensive line, and Burton, along with his 6’5 305-pound frame, can compete at multiple positions along the offensive line.
His testing numbers were undesirable, and he has sub-33” arms, but depth and competition along the line, even if it’s for the practice squad, is never a bad thing.
Given what he reportedly signed for, it's clear that Burton was a priority undrafted free agent for the Giants.