New York Giants sign Italian DL Habakkuk Baldonado

The New York Giants have signed Italian defensive end and five-year senior out of the University of Pittsburgh (NCAA, DI) Habakkuk Baldonado as a free agent. 

Baldonado was one of the few international prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft who also attended the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Indiana. The 6 ‘5, 260 pound Italian stacked up well against other prospects clocking a 4.78 40-yard dash as well as a 35” vertical, 10” broad jump and 21 reps on the bench. Despite Baldonado’s showing at the 2023 NFL Combine and many expecting him to go on Day 3, he slipped out of the draft. 

Before joining the Pittsburgh Panthers, Baldonado first played football with the Lazio Marines in his hometown of Rome. In 2017, Baldonado made his way to Florida’s high school football scene, joining Clearwater Academy International as an exchange student. In his lone season of high school football, Baldonado put up a staggering 30 sacks in only seven games. Baldonado’s size and skills earned him scholarship offers from blue-chip programs like Michigan State, Nebraska, Syracuse, and his eventual home Pittsburgh.

Baldonado was a key fixture on the Pitt Panthers’ defense and in 2021, he recorded nine sacks, 12 tackles for a loss, 41 tackles, and earned All-ACC Honors. This year, the Rome native notched two sacks, five tackles for a loss, 25 tackles, and a blocked kick in only nine games. Baldonado was also a standout at the East-West Shrine Bowl All-Star game.

The 23-year-old will now have to compete for a roster spot as a free agent in mini-camp, a significantly tougher challenge than if he were drafted. What Baldonado does have on his side however is age, an ability to produce at a high level on special teams and a rare mixture of size and athleticism.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.