EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP)Despite having late-round picks in the 2023 draft, the New York Giants made the most of them based on what has happened in training camp.
Cornerback Deonte Banks, center John-Michael Schmitz, wide receiver Jalin Hyatt – their picks in the first three rounds – and sixth-round choice Tre Hawkins, another cornerback, may start or play a major role when New York opens on Sept. 10 at home against Dallas.
Running back Eric Gray, the fifth-round pick, could be the No. 1 returner. Jordon Riley, the first of two seventh-round choices, has made a big impression in camp, while cornerback Gervarrius Owens is in the mix for a roster spot.
Assistant general manager Brandon Brown talked about the draft on Monday and gave a little more insight on why certain players were taken, and when.
“When you go back to June when we talked last, we talked about adding more guys that are smart, tough, dependable,” Brown said Monday. “It doesn’t guarantee them success, but it gives them an opportunity and a platform for success. So, I think when you look at the draft class, we added explosiveness, we talked about making a conscious effort of adding generators on the offensive side, getting more explosive on the defensive side, guys that fit our brand.”
Banks and Schmitz seemed no-brainers in the opening two rounds. The speedy Hyatt dropped in the draft despite catching 67 passes for 1,267 yards and 15 touchdowns for Tennessee, including five in a single game against Alabama.
The Giants didn’t hesitate when he was available in the third round. Some draft experts had New York taking him in either the first or second round.
Brown said the team studied Hyatt before the draft, going over the film and talking to him, but they also reached out to his coaches.
“He has more talent in his body than the role he was asked to play at Tennessee,” said Brown, now in his second season with the Giants.
While Hyatt played in the Southeastern Conference against top-level talent, Hawkins spent last season at Old Dominion of Sun Belt Conference, a non-Power Five league.
Brown said the first thing that stood out about Hawkins was his size. He’s 6-foot-3, long, fast, tough; the type of player defensive coordinator Wink Martindale wants. He also played well against the bigger schools such as Virginia and Coastal Carolina and has a chip on his shoulder coming through the JUCO ranks early in college.
“He doesn’t just like ball, he loves ball, and that he’s going to be a student of the game for us and those smart, tough, dependable mantras that we give, he’s another guy that embodies it,” Brown said. “He’s been taking to the coaching and we’re going to keep putting more on his plate.”
Riley wasn’t on the Giants’ radar until October, and Brown credits his scouting staff with finding the Oregon product. His size – 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds – got the scouts attention. He also was able to get a push against opposing offensive lines and he was a raw talent.
The North Carolina resident didn’t start playing football until he was a sophomore in high school. He was a power forward up to that point.
Brown admits there are some inconsistencies in Riley’s game.
“We see flashes, but you can’t replicate Jordon’s size,” Brown said. “There’s not just that many men walking on the world that have his size. So, it’s on us to kind of bridge that gap.”
NOTES: Veteran receiver Sterling Shepard handled some punt returns on Monday. The 30-year-old said the previous time he had done that was in college at Oklahoma. … Offensive linemen Tyre Phillips and Jack Anderson, receiver Cole Beasley, running back Gary Brightwell, tight end Tommy Sweeney, LB Cam Brown, DL Ryder Anderson and defensive backs Nick McCloud, Cor’Dale Flott and Jason Pinnock did not practice.
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