Earning a spot on an NFL roster is challenging enough, especially with the evaluation processes used by teams. Ending up on a 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent is an even more difficult task.
The New Orleans Saints have had success in finding undrafted players, guys that went unnoticed, that can perform at a high level on the field. The Saints finished last season with 18 undrafted players on the 53-man roster. Five of those 18 served in starting roles.
This offseason, the Saints have been looking at a new crop of undrafted free agents and evaluating their skills through a rookie minicamp, OTA’s and a June minicamp. One player who has impressed the coaching staff in the meeting room and on the field is wide receiver
Givens attended Miami University (Ohio) and recorded 157 receptions for 2,121 yards and 15 touchdowns in his five-year career. He missed the 2009 season with a shoulder injury and was granted a medical redshirt. In his redshirt senior campaign, Givens was able to register 57 catches for 1,118 yards and 11 touchdowns. The former Redhawk now ranks seventh in Miami record books in both catches and yardage.
Givens joins the Saints in a very crowded wide receiver competition, one of the deepest positions on the team. Headed towards training camp, the team currently has ten other receivers on the roster, including last season’s starters
For now, as he continues to work out and learn the Saints playbook, Givens is thankful that he was given a shot, especially from a team with prior success finding undrafted talent.
“I am very thankful for the organization giving me an opportunity. That is first and foremost,” said Givens. “They value some guys that (a lot of people think) don’t have a chance. It shows that if you are willing to be tough, work hard, and minimize your mistakes that you have an opportunity to contribute and play for this organization.”
For OTA’s and the minicamps, the Chillicothe, Ohio native has stayed focused and worked hard on the practice field and in the weight room, while paying close attention to offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. and wide receivers coach Henry Ellard in meetings. Givens has talked about his work ethic stemming from the mentality of being an undrafted player.
“You feel like you have a chip on your shoulder. You feel like you have to work twice as hard as anybody else because you are on the bottom of the totem pole,” said Givens. “If you are given an opportunity, you want to do the best you can. I want to continue to be consistent once we get to training camp and throughout the entire evaluation process. I want to seize my opportunity.”
His hard work has not gone unnoticed. Both Carmichael and Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt have praised Givens’ performance this offseason.
“Givens has been really impressive. We are very happy with him. He seems very comfortable, it is not too big for him,” said Carmichael. “He has been able to pick it up and stand out.”
Going forward, Givens looks to continue to work hard no matter what his role will be.
“My biggest goal is to help out the team as much as possible. I want to continue to be consistent in everything I do, do what my coaches are asking me to do, and continue to make plays at my position.”