With the ink barely dry, Eathyn Manumaleuna will quickly be on a plane to New York to meet his new teammates and coaches. As an undrafted free agent he will need to work even harder to make an impression on everyone, but I wouldn't bet against him. So what kind of uphill battle is he facing? What are his chances of making it on the Giants roster?
Let's start by looking at the Giants roster as it stands right now. Because Manumaleuna has the skill set to play anywhere on the defensive line, we will take a look at the roster spots for both the defensive end and the defensive tackle. The Giants picked up two players from each position, not including Manumaleauna, via the draft and undrafted free agents. Already on the roster are four players at each position. Below is a list of these roster spots:
Robert Ayers (6 years)
Mathias Kiwanuka (9 years)
Damontre Moore (2 years)
Jason Pierre-Paul (5 years)
Emmanuel Dieke (Undrafted Free Agent)
Kerry Wynn (Undrafted Free Agent)
Johnathan Hankins ((2 year)
Cullen Jenkins (11 years)
Markus Kuhn (3 years)
Mike Patterson (10 years)
Jay Bromley (Round 3 pick)
Eathyn Manumaleuna (Undrafted Free Agent)
Kelcy Quarles (Undrafted Free Agent)
As always, there is a tremendous amount of competition that he will have to face with a mixture of veterans and newcomers. Logic dictates that the starters will not be in danger of losing their jobs to a rookie, let alone one that was not drafted. So with that in mind, four of the spots are filled with Kiwanuka and Pierre-Paul anchoring the edges and Hankins and Jenkins filling the middle.
With the starters being safe, this means that there will nine players fighting for four or five spots on the roster. If the players impress enough, it might be a stretch to keep six of the nine, but it is not a given. Either way, this means that Manumaleuna will need to be more impressive than three to for players. These spots will not be won on talent alone as character and cohesiveness will play a role as well. If a player will not gel with his teammates, chances are he won't stay in the locker room for very long.
This is one area that could give Manumaleuna a leg up. He is an older player due to his LDS mission. Not only has he needed to get along with people, he is also married and has started a family. This stability in his personal life could provide a more focused player on and off the field. The downside to his age is that he will not have as much time catch up to speed. If the Giants keep him on the roster, he will need to be ready to contribute quickly in order to keep his career from being cut short.
Manumaleuna knows that he has been given a chance to continue his career with the Giants, but he should also have a chip on his shoulder as he knows that he should have been drafted. He will use this fire to prove his critics wrong for passing on him in the draft. Together with his ability to play Defensive End, Defensive Tackle, and Nose Guard in the Giants system will make him appealing to the coaches. The danger in this is that he will need to make sure he masters the position instead of just being good at them all. With his drive and determination, this shouldn't be a problem.
So in a nutshell it comes down to seeing if he has the drive, the determination, and the talent to become a solid backup for the Giants in the next couple of years. The answer is yes. Manumaleuna does have the skill set and does the drive to make this Giants roster. Will he receive much playing time if he makes it? Barring injuries, probably not. He will have to put in his time and pay his dues in order to get on the playing field, but he is very capable and it will be fun to watch him work for it.