The New York Giants suffered a major loss in free agency at defensive tackle with Linval Joseph moving on to the Minnesota Vikings. They did little in free agency to offset the loss, only brining back Mike Patterson who was with the team last season. They did make some additions in the 2014 NFL Draft, selecting Jay Bromley out of Syracuse in the third round. They also found themselves a steal in the UDFA pool, signing South Carolina defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles.
It was a rather big surprise that Quarles wasn’t selected in the draft. He was a unanimous top-15 defensive tackle throughout the draft process, and 20 defensive tackles were selected. Bromley was actually rated lower than Quarles on ESPN’s list. The rest of the NFL’s loss is the Giants gain, as Quarles helps fill a need on the Giants’ roster.
The only things Quarles has working against him is a motor that has been questioned at times, as he is susceptible to taking plays off here and there as his motor runs hot and cold. His endurance overall is average at best, causing his play to become less effective as he begins to wear down from being tired.
He performed adequately at the combine, finishing middle of the pack in most of the drills. He produced well throughout his college career, finishing with 36 tackles, 13.5 for loss, and 9.5 sacks in 2013 and 38 tackles, eight for loss, and 3.5 sacks in 2012. Only two defensive tackles finished with more sacks in 2013 than Quarles, Pittsburgh‘s Aaron Donald and Bromley.
Many people will point out that Quarles had quite a helper along the defensive line, as he frequently played next to No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney at South Carolina. Clowney was constantly doubled and even tripled teamed, making things easy for Quarles many pundits say, but Quarles still had to make the plays that were there. He just took advantage of the opportunities given to him.
Quarles has a legitimate chance to crack the Giants’ roster throughout training camp. The only players seemingly with a roster spot locked in are Cullen Jenkins, last season’s second round pick Jonathan Hankins, the re-signed Mike Patterson and Bromley.
Markus Kuhn is a veteran who has stuck around with the Giants, but is squarely on the roster bubble with the Giants, as they have brought in plenty of younger players the last two offseason. It would not be a shock if Quarles performs well in offseason practices and workouts if he replaced Kuhn on the roster.
If he is able to make the roster, Quarles will more than likely have a chance to make an impact from the start on special teams. Like many young players, doing the dirty work on coverage teams will get you noticed for a bigger role on the regular units. The Giants have struck gold with UDFA recently, and Quarles looks to make it another for Big Blue.