Dave Gettleman opted to go light on the team’s undrafted free agent class this season, inking just three players to deals thus far. Yet, that’s not to say the New York Giants won’t have their fair share of intriguing prospects when the team takes the field for rookie minicamp.
Per Justin Dunk of 3downnation.com, Ohio University quarterback and Canadian Football League draft pick Nathan Rourke has earned an invitation to the Giants’ mini-camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, NJ.
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Rourke Led Ohio to 3 Straight Bowl Wins, Owns School’s TD Record
Rourke is not a 2021 prospect. Instead, the 22-year-old failed to hear his name called in the 2020 NFL Draft. Yet, with COVID-19 restrictions axing rookie mini-camps around the league last season, he’s been gifted with an opportunity to earn an NFL contract with the Giants during their rookie mini-camp that will span from May 14-16.
While Rourke certainly has an uphill battle to earn a deal — let alone an in-season roster spot — the British Columbia native certainly has a tantalizing bag of traits and accolades to intrigue.
Taking over as the Ohio University starting quarterback in 2017, Rourke went on to flash dual-threat capabilities from the get-go. Over 39 games, Rourke rushed for 2,634 yards and a whopping 49 touchdowns on the ground. Not to be overshadowed by his feet, the signal-caller also tossed 60 touchdowns over his three seasons as the starter, posting a career TD-to-INT ratio of 3.0. As a senior in 2019, Rourke amassed a total of 3,456 yards from scrimmage and 32 combined touchdowns. His 110 total touchdowns are a program record.
Rourke’s stat-sheet stuffing production carried over to team success, as the team bolstered a 24-13 record with him under center. Prior to his arrival at Ohio, the Bobcats had captured just two bowl victories over the last 55 years. Yet, once inserted as the starter, Rourke led the Bobcats to three straight bowl victories, matching a Mid-American Conference record for most consecutive bowl wins.
Rourke Was a Highly-Touted CFL Prospect
While Rourke failed to latch on with an NFL team last season, he did catch the eye of another professional football league. Ranked as the seventh-overall prospect in the CFL’s Scouting Bureau, Rourke was selected in the second round, 15th overall by the BC Lions. Interestingly enough, his draft slot made him the highest-drafted Canadain quarterback since ex-Giant Jesse Palmer was selected 15th-overall by the Montreal Alouettes in 2001.
Unfortunately for Rourke, the CFL had to cancel last season due to COVID-19, not allowing the 6-foot-2-inch, 210 pounder a platform to showcase his skillset. Now, eight months after the league’s announcement to cancel the season, Rourke will get a chance to strut his stuff for the Giants.
New York does currently bolster four quarterbacks on their roster: starter Daniel Jones, backup Mike Glennon, the ever-versatile Joe Webb and former fifth-round pick Clayton Thorson. With that said, Rourke’s well-rounded game could potentially help earn him looks at other positions.
“Some teams may look at his athleticism and say, ‘he can join our roster and fulfill some other roles,’” said Dave Naylor of TSN.ca when Rourke was entering the CFL draft. “Either on special teams or maybe out of the backfield while he’s developing as a quarterback and maybe be that emergency third quarterback.”
Naylor’s colleague David Sanchez added, “If you can get this guy on your roster you get another quarterback in there and he can be a Wildcat guy and create problems for defensive coordinators around the league.”