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Mailbag: Expectations for undrafted rookies

Shamsi in Midwood, Brooklyn: How many undrafted free agents do you think will make the roster this season?

John Schmeelk: This is a difficult question to answer since we haven't seen any of the 17 undrafted free agents on the field yet. The one thing we do know is that Joe Judge and the new coaches on the staff will not have any personal biases, good or bad, for any returning players on the roster. Judge hasn't had to make any roster decisions on those players previously. We don't know how much Dave Gettleman and Judge will want to keep younger players to fill out the back end the roster, though Judge has referenced youth as being a strength. Most years, anywhere from 0-3 undrafted free agents make the regular season roster. The fact the team drafted 10 players, including four in the seventh round, may keep the number of UDFA's down on the final 53.

We'll continue this mailbag with two good questions from the same reader.

Michael in Pennsylvania: Given Joe Judge's special teams expertise, what new wrinkles can we expect from the Giants new & improved special teams?

John Schmeelk: There are only so many different things a team can do on special teams, but I do expect Joe Judge to bring some new ideas, formations, and maybe some return and blocking schematics with him from New England. It is important to note that Thomas McGaughey, who coached one of the better units in the league last year, returns as special teams coordinator. He will handle the day to day running of the unit, but as head coach, Judge will contribute as he deems appropriate. One focus of New England special teams every year has been to find weaknesses in an opponent's schemes week to week and exploit them, especially on block attempts. An extra set of eyes from the head coach might help McGaughey excel in that area.

Questions 2: Will the Giants carry two QBs this season, with the UDFA out of Northern Arizona on the practice squad for emergency call up? What's the chance that Alex Tanney sticks around as an assistant QB coach?

John Schmeelk: Right now, the Giants have a very full quarterback room with Daniel Jones, Colt McCoy, undrafted free agent Case Cookus, Alex Tanney and recently added Cooper Rush. They can carry so many quarterbacks right now because the team doesn't have to worry about having depth at certain positions for on-field spring workouts. Once training camp starts, it will be impossible to find enough snaps for all five players during practice every day and fill out the depth chart at other positions. It would not surprise me if the room is thinned out before practice starts.

There has been no indication how many quarterbacks they intend to keep on the roster when they cut down at the end of training camp. It wouldn't surprise me if they keep only Jones and McCoy, or if they added a third player to the room. They could also make their third quarterback a practice squad player. Rush and Tanney are young veterans who are both known for their encyclopedic knowledge of offense, while Cookus would be more of a young and developmental player. Until we get a better idea of what Dave Gettleman and Judge believe is the ideal roster construction, it is mostly a guessing game.

Bobby in New Jersey: Do you think Andrew Thomas will play left tackle with Nate Solder moving to right tackle, or will Solder remain on the left side and Andrew Thomas move to right tackle?

John Schmeelk: It is important to remember that Thomas started his entire freshman year at Georgia at right tackle. He has experience there, so I wouldn't consider it a "move" for him. It would be more of a return. Solder, meanwhile, played only one year at right tackle in his collegiate and pro career: 2011. There will be an open competition at both offensive tackle positions, but if I had to wager now, and given Solder's comfort at left tackle, I think he remains there this year, and Thomas starts at right tackle (assuming he beats out Nick Gates and Cameron Fleming).


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