Which Giants Undrafted Free Agent Could be the Next Victor Cruz?

Jason Keidel
May 26, 2020 - 12:48 pm
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What do Lou Groza, Marion Motley, Willie Wood, Larry Little, Warren Moon, John Randle and Kurt Warner have in common? 

Other than being great players from all over the gridiron and members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, all were undrafted free agents. 

A long time ago (1948), the New York Giants took a flier on defensive back Emien Tunnell, who was undrafted and wound up joining the aforementioned greats in the Hall of Fame. More recently, they gave a wide receiver the jersey No. 3 and some preseason snaps. He scorched the Jets on a summer day and soon Victor Cruz was a household name with a signature, salsa TD dance.

Though big-ticket players from big-time schools get all the ink, it's not uncommon for NFL roster to be littered with undrafted players. A Sept, 2016 tweet from ESPN's Adam Schefter, quoting stats from Elias, asserted that there were more undrafted free agents on NFL clubs (481) than first and second-round draft picks combined (480). 

With the underdog in mind, let's take a look at trio of undrafted free agent Giants who may make the squad this season. (As always, these arguments presuppose there will be a season.)

1. Derrick Dillon,WR, LSU

Since it seemed like LSU had a pro player at every position — especially at wideout — Dillon didn't get much pub behind first-round pick Justin Jefferson and sizzling sophomore Ja'Marr Chase. But Dillon pounded out a 40-yard-dash time of 4.29 seconds. Seriously. You can't teach speed. And Dillon has all kinds of it. Plus he came from a blue blood program program that will go down as one of  the best in college football history. 

2. Austin Mack, WR, Ohio State

Like Dillon, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Mack got a bit buried in a deep OSU roster. While Mack ran an average 4.59 time in the 40-yard-dash, his skills as a route-runner are unquestioned. If he can overcome injuries and a cut back on dropped passes, he has an excellent chance to be with Big Blue. 

3. Oluwole Betiku, Edge, Illinois

It's no secret the Giants defense was horror-movie bad last year. They ranked between 25th and 30th in nearly all salient stats. Among the unit's biggest problems was finding the opposing quarterback. The G-Men posted a paltry 36 sacks on the season, led by Markus Golden, who had 10. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound Betiku ran a 4.7 in the 40-yard-dash. He was good enough to be recruited by USC before transferring to the Fighting Illini. He's got the skills and size, but lacks experience. 

4. Kyle Murphy, OL, Rhode Island

Yes, the Giants drafted PFF's top-rated tackle coming out of college (Andrew Thomas), and keep throwing people and paychecks at their woeful offensive line. But this should really be Big Blue's best offensive line in a few years. It has to be. Too many resources have blanketed the unit. Still, the 6-foor-3, 316-pound Murphy - who grunted his way to 19 reps on the bench press - could make a solid addition to the squad, pitching in at guard or center

5. Javon Leake, RB, Maryland

Granted, Maryland may be in the Big Ten, but they're no Ohio State. Still, the 6-foot 215-pound Leake averaged nearly eight yards per carry, and scored a TD on nearly 12% of his rushes. Since he only carried the ball 145 times in college and ran a pedestrian 4.65 time in the 40-yard-dash, Leake still has much to prove. And it won't be easy for Leake to crack a lineup that features fellow Bronx native Saquon Barkley and heady veteran Dion Lewis. 

Overview

The Giants are pretty deep at wideout, so don't expect them to keep two undrafted free agents on the 53-man roster. They also have Benjamin Victor, another in a conga line of gifted Ohio State pass-catchers. Figure they keep one on the roster and try to sneak one or two on the practice squad, provided another team doesn't snatch them up. Just remember that today's NFL is freckled with undrafted players who are leaving major NFL footprints. One year ago, Sports Illustrated listed an All-Undrafted Team from current NFL rosters. It featured Phillip Lindsay, Chris Harris, Austin Ekeler, Adam Thielen, Tyrell Williams, Adam Humphries, Cameron Brate, Alejandro Villenueva, Shaq Barrett and Tashaun Gipson, among many others. 

Twitter: @JasonKeidel