Giants’ UDFA defensive tackle gem could sneak his way onto the roster

Syndication: The Record, Elijah Chatman, new york giants
Credit: Chris Pedota, / USA TODAY NETWORK

If there is one position to question in the New York Giants’ defensive lineup, it would be the depth on the interior of their defensive line. Dexter Lawrence leads the unit as one of the best interior defenders in the league. However, who will be starting alongside him on the defensive line is very much in question.

The Giants’ lack of depth on the defensive line could create a rare opportunity for unlikely players to sneak their way onto the roster. Chief among those underdog candidates could be rookie undrafted free agent Elijah Chatman.

Could Elijah Chatman sneak his way onto the Giants’ roster?

Elijah Chatman, Giants
Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Chatman appears to be one of those undrafted rookies with a higher ceiling than one would expect. The SMU product attended the Giants’ rookie minicamp earlier this offseason on a tryout basis before being signed to the roster.

Standing in at 6-foot, 278 pounds, Chatman is undersized for his position. But along with his decreased frame comes increased athleticism. He possesses a quick first step and has plenty of explosiveness coming off the line of scrimmage — and in the weight room:

Despite his size limitations, Chatman was an effective player for SMU’s defense. He had his breakout as a junior in 2021, totaling 40 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks. He backed that up with 39 tackles, four tackles for loss, and three sacks as a senior in 2022, and rounded out his collegiate career with 33 tackles, nine tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks as a graduate assistant in 2023.

Chatman’s five years in collegiate football ended with him reaching the second most games played in SMU’s program history with 60. He was named second-team All-AAC in 2021 and 2022.

The Giants need more depth on the interior and Chatman could fit the bill. He will have the summer to soak up as much coaching as possible from one of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL, Andre Patterson. With Chatman’s rare explosiveness being honed in under Patterson’s guidance, an opportunity could arise for the undrafted rookie to sneak his way onto the Giants’ roster in their thing defensive interior.

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