Giants: 3 overlooked rookies to keep an eye on as training camp begins

Gervarrius Owens, Giants, nyg, New York Giants
Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

The New York Giants were one of eight teams that had their rookies and select veterans report to training camp early on Monday. The rest of the team will be due to arrive next Tuesday.

In the meantime, the rookies will warm up for camp and prepare for the crucial training camp period and preseason. Some rookies have garnered more attention than others this offseason. The likes of Deonte Banks, John Michael-Schmitz, and Jalin Hyatt will be watched carefully throughout camp.

But fans should keep an eye on three overlooked rookies during camp as they compete to play big roles with the team in 2023.

Could UDFA Bryce Ford-Wheaton make the Giants’ final roster?

West Virginia WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton is easily the most exciting undrafted free agent that the Giants signed this offseason. New York competed with the Eagles and Seahawks to sign Ford-Wheaton, but the rookie ultimately chose to sign with the Giants after speaking with head coach Brian Daboll.

Ford-Wheaton is an athletic specimen, standing in at 6-foot-3, 221-pounds, and boasting an insane 4.38s 40-yard dash time. He posted a perfect 10.0 relative athletic score (RAS), comparing athletically to the likes of Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson.

The Giants gave Ford-Wheaton $236K guaranteed on his contract, indicating a strong desire to develop his talents further than most undrafted rookies. According to Dan Duggan of The Athletic, “That’s a full season salary on the practice squad ($216K) plus a $20K signing bonus. Clearly someone they want to develop.”

Ford-Wheaton will be a fringe roster player come training camp, but his rare athleticism could carve him a path of opportunity to earn a roster spot if he plays well this summer. At the very least, his guaranteed salary will ensure that he at least stays with the Giants on their practice squad this season.

Eric Gray has a big opportunity this summer

With Saquon Barkley unlikely to attend training camp, rookie fifth-round draft pick Eric Gray has a big opportunity at hand. The Oklahoma product will see far more playing time with the first team this summer, filling in for the absent Barkley.

Barkley’s holdout could potentially last into the regular season. It will be crucial for Gray to impress during training camp and develop into a capable NFL player in case he needs to start Week 1 in place of Barkley. Gray rushed for 1,366 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2022. The Giants have high hopes for the rookie.

Gervarrius Owens is a sleeper to become a starter

The Giants drafted Houston safety Gervarrius Owens with their final pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Owens joins a thin safety room that weakened significantly this offseason following the departure of veteran Julian Love. Entering 2023, no clear-cut starter has replaced Love in the lineup; Owens could potentially fill that hole with a solid summer of practices.

The seventh-round pick was active at OTAs and minicamp, getting his hands on a number of footballs during team drills. According to Matt Lombardo of Heavy, an AFC Executive said Owens “has starter ability,” and “will get on the field immediately on third down and special teams.”

Owens totaled 74 tackles, one interception, eight pass breakups, and two forced fumbles in 12 games in 2022. If he keeps making plays this summer, he could find himself on the field sooner rather than later.