Eric Galko @EricGalko
Feels like #WVU WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton's dominant #NFLCombine didn't get enough attention.
Overall testing was rare, including a 4.38 at 6'4, 221.
Here's him vs. Christian Watson.
Other comps (per RAS): Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Chase Claypool, Outstanding company.
West Virginia WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton has a similar size and athleticism profile to DK Metcalf.
Ford-Wheaton and Metcalf are the only players at their position to weigh at least 220 lbs, jump more than 40" in the vertical, and run a sub-4.40 40 at the combine since 2003.
Giants signed WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton.
Ford-Weaton (6’4/221) has the size and speed (4.38 40-time) to compete in the NFL. What he lacks is a production profile. Playing in a Big 12 conference that’s largely devoid of defense, Ford-Wheaton never went for more than 675 yards in a season and saw his YPR steadily decline over each of the last four years. The same can be said of his YAC/REC, which topped out at an impressive 8.3 in 2020 only to regress to 4.3 by his senior season. What Ford-Wheaton lacks in ability after the catch he makes up for in contested catches. His size allows him to win contested targets with ease, and he’s shown a good knack for tracking the ball while it’s in the air. Some improved quarterback play at the NFL level could go a long way in Ford-Wheaton’s development. Over the last two seasons, he ranked 120th in catchable target rate (64.9 percent), per Pro Football Focus.
Giants general manager Joe Schoen doesn’t want to sign camp bodies in undrafted free agency. He wants prospects who will compete for a spot on the active roster and at least develop on the practice squad.
The Giants signed 13 undrafted free agents last year. Outside linebacker Tomon Fox was the lone UDFA to make the Week 1 roster, while running back Jashaun Corbin, tight end Dre Miller, cornerback Zyon Gilbert and safety Trenton Thompson spent the season on the practice squad. Additionally, defensive lineman Ryder Anderson made the 90-man roster as an undrafted tryout at rookie minicamp and appeared in seven games after starting the season on the practice squad.
So there figures to be at least a couple of keepers among the nine-man UDFA class the Giants signed this year. Here are their stories as they prepare to hit the field for rookie minicamp Friday and Saturday alongside the team’s seven draft picks and dozens of tryout players:
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Eagles coach Nick Sirianni called Bryce Ford-Wheaton after the draft concluded last Saturday, trying to convince the West Virginia wide receiver to sign with their teams. The crush of undrafted free agency is a frenetic time, especially for a coveted prospect like Ford-Wheaton.
“It was like recruiting,” Ford-Wheaton said. “It was like you had to sign right then. You get 30 seconds to choose where you were going.”
But Ford-Wheaton didn’t jump at the offers from Carroll or Sirianni. Instead, he chose to sign with the Giants, largely due to the bond he formed with coach Brian Daboll during a pre-draft visit.
“I talked to him for a long time,” Ford-Wheaton said. “My phone was blowing up while I was on the phone with him. I was sending everybody else to voicemail because in my head I was already like, ‘This is where I want to go.’”
The Giants made the decision easier with a strong commitment, giving Ford-Wheaton $236,000 guaranteed. He received a $20,000 signing bonus in addition to a $216,000 base salary guarantee, which is the equivalent of a full-season practice squad salary. For perspective, the final pick in last year’s draft, 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy, got $77,000 guaranteed in his contract.
Worst-case, the Giants view Ford-Wheaton as a player they want to develop on the practice squad. It’s easy to see why, considering his 6-foot-4, 221-pound frame combined with a 4.38-second 40-yard dash (fourth fastest among wide receivers at the combine) and 41-inch vertical jump (highest among receivers).
“I already felt good about the Giants, because I had already met them,” Ford-Wheaton said. “I had already learned a couple installs with them and kind of got tested. The determining factor was I had David Sills, one of my old teammates, up there. He’s done what I’m trying to do right now.”
Sills, who starred at wide receiver for West Virginia, signed with the Bills as an undrafted free agent in 2019. After getting cut at the end of training camp, Sills landed on the Giants’ practice squad. He’s hung around for the past four seasons, appearing in nine games with five starts last season.
When selling Ford-Wheaton on signing with the Giants, Daboll pointed out that last season Sills played over Kenny Golladay, who was in the middle of a four-year, $72 million contract.
“(Daboll is) just a real honest, up-front dude. He’s just real blunt,” Ford-Wheaton said. “He’s not going to sit here and lie in your face. I was asking him what he saw my role being, and he just straight up said my role is going to be whatever I make it. I knew that he doesn’t care about where you get drafted or when. He cares more about what you’re about to do and how you’re going to produce. The best man is going to play. The proof is in the pudding.”
That evidence was important to Ford-Wheaton, who had already grown skeptical of promises from NFL brass after being assured he’d get drafted.
“I was thinking anywhere from three to five,” Ford-Wheaton said of his expected draft round. “Worst-case scenario, I was thinking top of the sixth. That’s what we were told by some NFL GMs. Nobody projected me to go undrafted.”
But that’s what happened, ending a trying pre-draft process for Ford-Wheaton, who was told by an NFL wide receivers coach during an interview at the Shrine Bowl that sometimes he looks like Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson and other times he looks like he wouldn’t start on a juco team in Iowa.
“There might have been some truth in it, to what he was trying to say, but he wasn’t really trying to just dag on me,” Ford-Wheaton said. “He was trying to get me to act out, to see how much I could handle. It didn’t really affect me though.”
Ford-Wheaton was productive in college, setting career-highs with 62 catches for 675 yards and seven touchdowns last season. But he wasn’t as dominant as expected for a player with his athletic profile.
“Just having so many different receiver coaches and OCs, I feel like I have a lot to learn,” Ford-Wheaton said. “I know I’m not a finished product yet. But I know that learning from the guys in front of me when I get in there, learning how to be a professional, competition is going to bring my skill level up, too.”
Ford-Wheaton played on the punt, punt return and kickoff return teams in college, and he knows that utilizing his size and athleticism on special teams could open the door to a roster spot. He’s arriving in New Jersey willing to do whatever it takes to make the team after the chip on his shoulder grew from going undrafted.
“I knew at some point in the day I was going to hear my name called. When that didn’t happen, it was rough,” Ford-Wheaton said. “But I had a better opportunity at the end of it all, so it was OK.”
Kent Lee Platte @MathBomb
Bryce Ford-Wheaton is a WR prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 9.97 #RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 11 out of 3062 WR from 1987 to 2023. ras.football/ras-informatio…
He was told he would be drafted anywhere from the 3rd to 5th round. I'm guessing teams didn't like his inconsistency.I am shocked nobody took a flyer on him in the 7th.
Bobby Skinner @BobbySkinner_
People are asking if the Bryce Ford-Wheaton hype train has taken off