Giants: An unlikely undrafted free agent may crack the 53-man roster

nfl: preseason-carolina panthers at new york giants, bryce ford-wheaton
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants‘ wide receiver lineup is currently a hotbed of competition. While the first couple of preseason games have been instrumental in evaluating depth and talent at the receiver position, an undrafted free agent is making waves in a slightly different area: special teams.

Decisions Looming Large

The Giants are at a crossroads where they must make some challenging roster decisions, especially concerning Cole Beasley and Collin Johnson. Both have the potential to shine as primary receivers, yet neither contributes value to Special Teams.

Joe Schoen, the Giants’ General Manager, shed light on this puzzle by hinting at the possibility of Bryce Ford-Wheaton, the undrafted free agent from West Virginia, securing a spot in the 53-man lineup. The reason? His standout performance as a gunner on the punt team.

[su_posts template=”templates/list-loop.php” posts_per_page=”3″ tax_term=”151323″ offset=”1″ order=”desc”]

Ford-Wheaton: The Collegiate Years

Looking back at Ford-Wheaton’s college career, his senior year was impressive. Over 12 games, he amassed 675 yards, celebrating seven touchdowns. Standing tall at 6’4″ and weighing 221 pounds, Ford-Wheaton’s athleticism is commendable. He boasted the best athleticism score in his draft class, showcasing a swift 4.38 40-yard dash and a remarkable 1.54 10-yard split.

Potential Over Experience: A Smart Bet?

With such tangible assets and the potential to evolve into a significant NFL asset, the Giants might be tilting in favor of Ford-Wheaton’s potential over the experience of some veterans. His physical stature, combined with an enviable wingspan, suggests that he might grow into a dependable pass catcher. However, it’s essential to note that he’s still far from realizing this potential.

In the current preseason, his involvement has been varied: seven snaps in punt coverage, 44 snaps as an external receiver, and 20 in the slot. Out of five targets, he managed to secure two, covering a distance of 14 yards.

The Giants’ strategy appears to be putting Ford-Wheaton to the test, gauging his adaptability and resilience. With his evident speed and clear potential, betting on him to hone his skills, especially with contributions to the punt team, seems plausible. Some of the concerns surrounding him stem from his limited production at West Virginia and an underdeveloped route tree. However, with time, practice, and mentorship, these are gaps that can be filled.

For Ford-Wheaton, his rookie season comes with minimal expectations. Yet, the world of the NFL understands the importance of competent special team players. If the Giants recognize his potential impact, Ford-Wheaton might just sidestep the practice squad and carve a niche for himself.