The Giants could get tremendous value from their seventh-round rookies in 2023

New York Giants safety Gervarrius Owens (31) somehow got a mouth guard stuck into one of the ventilation holes in his helmet during their game against the Detroit Lions in the second quarter at Ford Field

The New York Giants held two draft picks in the seventh round of this year’s draft. Rather than trading those picks away, New York used both of them, landing two developmental prospects on the defensive side of the ball. The Giants drafted DL Jordon Riley and S Gervarrius Owens in the seventh round, who both stood out this summer and earned their way onto the final 53-man roster.

As seventh-round draft picks, roster spots are no guarantee. Late-round picks still need to earn their stay on the active roster, and many times they wind up on the practice squad. But both Riley and Owens proved that they can provide value on Sundays and seem to be prepared to perform this regular season.

Jordon Riley looks like a force on the defensive interior

Riley was the first of the Giants’ two seventh-round draft selections. The interior defensive lineman out of Oregon has quickly stood out this summer, garnering praise from the team’s front office and coaching staff.

“He’s got some gifts that you can’t give him as a coach. You know, he’s 6-5, he’s 325 pounds. He is a big, strong man. The gifts he has, a coach can’t give you that.”

Giants defensive line coach Andre Patterson in the spring via The New York Post

Riley is a freakishly athletic defensive lineman considering his massive stature. But after totaling five tackles and two tackles for loss in the preseason, Riley has proven he can be a capable run defender in Big Blue’s defensive front.

Adding depth to the Giants’ secondary

Owens earned himself a roster spot this summer despite competing in a crowded defensive backfield. This preseason, the rookie totaled 14 tackles and two pass breakups, nearly coming away with an interception on one of them.

During his time at Houston, Owens was a four-year starter and team captain. In 2022, he totaled 74 tackles, one interception, eight pass breakups, and two forced fumbles in 12 games. Owens has a knack for getting his hands on the football; a valuable trait entering the next level.

According to Matt Lombardo of Heavy, an AFC Executive said post-draft that Owens “has starter ability,” and “will get on the field immediately on third down and special teams.” Considering New York’s struggles on special teams last season, it is likely Owens will receive playing time in that facet of the game as a rookie.

It is rare to see seventh-round picks offer such immediate value to a team, let alone two of them. But the Giants have seemingly landed two underrated talents in the final round of this year’s draft. Riley and Owens appear to be impressive young players who could contribute to the defense’s success as early as their rookie season.

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