The Giants wanted Madre Harper way back in April when the draft and rookie free agency took place. He wound up signing with the Raiders instead.
But this week, they finally got their guy.
"He’s a guy we have known about for some time now," Joe Judge said on Thursday, shortly after Harper signed his contract to start his first official day with his new team. "Obviously there were no preseason games so the exposure early on at the 53-man cut was a little bit limited and he ended up staying in Vegas and being part of the practice squad, but he’s a guy we’ve had our eye on."
Harper played two years at Southern Illinois after transferring from Oklahoma State. His two-season totals at Southern Illinois included 88 tackles (72 solo), one tackle for loss, a half-sack, two interceptions, 20 passes defensed and one forced fumble.
"We’ve got our college grades on people," Judge said of scouting a player the Giants have not seen in action since last December. "Obviously we haven’t been able to put a pro grade on this guy yet because he didn’t play any preseason games, so with all these rookies you are relying off your college evaluation of them. But you just have to have a good feeling in what you are looking at and the skillset that you can develop."
Judge called Harper "a developing player," but he said he likes the raw skills.
"He’s a good athlete, a long and rangy guy with good speed," he said. "He is definitely somebody that we’re anxious to get on the grass and start moving forward with him."
Harper should eventually compete for playing time at the second starting cornerback spot that has been up for grabs since the start of training camp. Isaac Yiadom will start there this week, secondary coach Jerome Henderson said, but Ryan Lewis will rotate in as well. Harper, who had his first practice with the team on Thursday, may have to wait a bit longer to actually play.
"We’ll see where he goes in terms of his involvement this week, we’ll see how much we can kind of get him going and get him caught up and if there is a role in this week’s gameplan," Judge said. "We’ll probably take that up to the wire and decide what we are going to do with him this week. But we’re excited to have him in the building and get working with him."
Notes & quotes: The Giants will fly to Los Angeles on Saturday for Sunday’s game and try to stay on East Coast time as much as they can, but then, rather than fly back and get home in the middle of the night, they will stay in California until around midday on Monday. They are expected back around 8 p.m. Monday. "We’re going to make sure the guys get a good night’s sleep, we’ll get the film graded that night, watch it with the players the next morning, get that all cleaned up, then we’ll fly back," Judge said. "We’re really looking to avoid some of that jetlag time coming back, trying to keep the players as fresh as possible… This is something we thought could really help our players, not just for this week but also leading into next week’s trip back to Texas."