Obviously, Saquon Barkley is the New York Giants most well known addition from Penn State, but many fans might have missed that the Giants also signed Barkley’s teammate, cornerback Grant Haley. Haley was just as much a part of bringing back Penn State football as Barkley, and he enters the NFL as an experienced player who had game time in all four of his seasons at PSU.
— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) March 5, 2018
In his senior year he appeared in 13 games and recorded 40 tackles as well as two interceptions. The year before, he became an instantly recognizable name after scoring the winning touchdown against Ohio State, following Marcus Allen’s field goal block. The Giants need help in the secondary, and if Haley’s college production is an indication of his talent level, he may be able to make an impact despite his undrafted status.
Let’s consider why he went undrafted in the first place. At 5’9″, Haley isn’t the largest player by any means. His height put off many NFL GMs and, judging from the fact that he wasn’t drafted, removed him from many draft boards completely. While this is a valid concern for a cornerback, height isn’t everything in the NFL and if Haley played as a slot corner, it’s possible that he won’t have to face the largest receivers.
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I think he’s tough and fast. For some reason, nobody talks about this kid. People told me he can’t run and he just did 4.49 and 4.44. All I’m saying is he competes.
Haley makes up for his lack of height in other areas, however. Mike Mayock praised him at the NFL Combine, partly because of his speed and good times on the 40 yard dash. Mayock projects Haley as a nickel corner, and that might be the reason why the Giants brought him in immediately after the draft. But he’s not only a quick player. Haley had 9 passes defended last season in addition to his two interceptions.
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He’s not the flashiest player, but he gets the job done on both defense and special teams. Fans don’t usually consider special teams, but Haley played special teams for Penn State in addition to playing at corner. Special teams coaches sometimes struggle to fill their units with talent, given the expendable nature of players that are primarily used in special teams roles, and Haley would immediately make the Giants better in their coverage in that area.
With the Giants thin at the corner position, expect Haley to make the team and compete for playing time during training camp and the preseason, when his skills at zone coverage are allowed to shine. Size isn’t the most important thing for NFL players these days, regardless of teams leaning towards taller players in the draft, and it looks like the Giants got a steal because of other teams overvaluing size.