1) Draft Pick Number (round) : Name – Position / School – height/weight
2) NFL Comparison (Skill set and style of play – not future projection)
3) Summary from Report (from early spring) + Pre-Draft Giants focus (from early April)
4) Post-Draft focus and my perception of strategy, usage (short and long term), and value
1) #24 (1): Deonte Banks – CB/Maryland – 6’0/197
NFL Comparison: Kelvin Joseph / DAL
Senior entry. Three-year starter but two of those years summed to just five starts combined because of Covid-19 (2020) and a shoulder injury that kept him out of all but two games (2021). Honorable Mention All-Big Ten in 2022. Banks is a bit of an unknown because the lack of experience over that two-year span. That said, he did start as a true freshman in 2019 (11 games, 8 starts) and looked fantastic in 2022 (12 games, 8 starts). The movement traits are nearly off the charts and his aggressive playstyle will be attractive to defensive schemes that want to use a lot of man coverage. His rapid-fire footwork allows him to stay sticky and the long speed pairs with acceleration traits to stay on top of pro deep threats. There are not a lot of plays made on his tape and I’m not sold he completely understands what he is doing yet. Banks is a wildcard that could make a case to be the top corner in the draft because of talent and traits, but there are question marks in a few of the mental areas of the grade sheet.
*Banks tore it up at the Combine and this is a position that everyone wants to see traits at, then gamble. Banks’ movement ability shows up on the film, there is no denying his ability to play against NFL speed. The question will be how quickly he adapts mentally. He simply did not play a lot in college, and he was not challenged often enough. Like a lot of these other corners in the group, this will be a big swing for the fence and his shortcoming centers around size/length.
*A quick note on what I mean by a lack of experience and him not being challenged. Of the first six outside corners taken, Banks played the lowest number of snaps and was targeted the least (by a lot). It is not a negative, and I did not hold it against him in the grading process. I simply believe it should be known there is a rawness to him, a few boxes unchecked. That lengthens the spectrum of what he could evolve into over time. It seems rather clear to me that this was the corner Martindale wanted. He fits the mold of the Baltimore corners that were drafted when he was calling the shots there. Blazing speed, easy turn and run ability, play strength, and ball skills. I expect him to start in year one, possibly as soon as week one if he has a strong camp and preseason. Let’s use Marlon Humphrey as an example. He was a first-round pick in 2017 (16th overall) while Martindale was the linebacker coach (Martindale was also considered assistant DC and took over the DC role a year later). Humphrey, who had a very similar profile to Banks both as an athlete and amount of college experience, began his rookie season in a rotational role. They eased him into more and more playing time and then he ended up starting the final four games. He has been essentially their number one or two ever since. That is where I see Banks heading.
Prior to the draft, I was asked on multiple platforms where NYG would go in round one. My answer was always corner or receiver. Sure, a value could have fallen at another spot but if was going bet money on it, the CB/WR was always option A. Hearing Schoen discuss the mindset as two corners and four receivers came off the board from picks 16-23 caused the trade up one slot with JAX. The value of the trade, by the way, was completely within market value. It was not an overpay. NYG had reason to believe that pick was going to be traded regardless because they likely had intel JAX was going for a tackle (which could be had later in round one). JAX ended up taking Anton Harrison at 27 following another trade down. Year one of this regime was about starting the rebuild of the trenches and enhancing the quality depth. Year two was about getting the explosive playmakers and preventing explosive plays by the opposition. Macro-level, this is the right approach. Micro-level, Banks was the right fit considering what Martindale wanted and the untapped upside Banks has.
2) #57 Overall (2): John Michael Schmitz – OC/Minnesota – 6’3/301
NFL Comparison: Ted Karras / CIN
Sixth year senior. Four-year starter from Flossmoor, IL. Named All-Big Ten three straight years including a first team honor in 2022. Also named a first team All-American in his final season. Schmitz is the point guard of the offensive line, fully capable of making all the calls and directing traffic. He does all the little things right and it adds up to consistent, reliable play. He excels in the running game with his combination of heavy contact and excellent footwork. While he is not the most natural athlete, he makes up for a lot of the shortcomings with proper angles, spacing, and timing. Schmitz has a great feel for when to peel off to the next man and his hands do a lot of damage. The shortcomings as a pass blocker on an island and occasional lapse in body control can cause some concern, but the floor is high for him. Schmitz has the mental capacity and reliable run blocking to fit into any situation right away and compete for a starting job, but this is a low ceiling, high-floor kind of player.
*Want a plug and play center that will immediately become the mental leader of your line? Schmitz is your guy. Want a high-upside athlete that is going to eventually be one of the top players at the position in the league? Look elsewhere. Schmitz is a classic “is what he is” type prospect. You know what you are getting, you know what you are not. One negative I could see NYG having on him is the fact he never played a position other than center. In addition, the already-24 year-old simply lacks more area to chew up on the progression curve. Will he provide the best OC play this team has had since…O’Hara? Probably. The question is about positional value, and everyone has an opinion on that. I like Schmitz, as do many in the league. But he only becomes an option for me in round 3, and I think he is gone by then.
This just seemed right. That was the thought that immediately came to mind when the pick was made. Round 1 for Schmitz would have been way too high. Round 3 for Schmitz probably would not have been possible. Schoen opted to stay put, not trade up, and get a starting center that will be in the league a long time. Regardless of what is said by Daboll, I fully expect Schmitz to be the starting center week 1. This locks in four spots along the line with a competition for the left guard job that will be incredible to watch throughout camp/preseason. Schmitz will improve the run blocking and eventually the overall cohesion of this line. While he may not be a star, he is going to be the guy for four to five years, at least. That alone improves chemistry and chemistry alone raises the bar of an offensive line.
As stated above and as I said leading up to the draft, the process of building the offensive line was not over and it had to be addressed in this draft with the mindset of getting a starter in the building. Center was a hot topic, as it was the lone spot where the team did not have a set starter (a case can be made for left guard as well). This prompted many to bang the table for a center in the first round and that is a move we may have gotten used to with the previous three General Managers. This is yet another sign things really have changed inside those walls. The lone question that can be asked here is, what is the gap between Schmitz and another center that could have been had later? Not always a fair question, I know. But Olu Oluwatimi (Michigan) went in round 5, Luke Wypler (Ohio State) went in round 6, Jake Andrews (Troy) went in round 4, Ricky Stromberg (Arkansas) went in round 3. Was the value of Schmitz right? In a vacuum? Sure. When considering the big picture while also knowing they passed on the likes of WR Marvin Mims and OG O’Cyrus Torrence, it can be questioned. But to repeat myself from earlier, NYG seemed to value him and there was not shot he would have been there round 3. He likely would have come off the board to Houston or Buffalo just a few picks later.
3) #73 (3): Jalin Hyatt – WR/Tennessee
NFL Comparison: Will Fuller / RET
Junior entry. One year starter from Irmo, SC. First Team All American and SEC honors in addition to winning the Biletnikoff Award. Hyatt was one of the country’s breakout performers in 2022, leading the power five conferences with 15 touchdowns. Coming into the year, he had just 502 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He nearly tripled that in his junior season alone. This is the kind of speed that changes how an opposing defense plays. There is a lot of unknown in his game, however. He is inexperienced in contested situations, he rarely lined up outside, and the route running on anything besides vertical-routes needs a lot of refinement. While the speed is next-level and he will immediately become one of the best deep threats in the NFL early in his career, there is a lot that needs to be gained for Hyatt to be considered a formidable number one threat.
*The one prospect in this group that I would label THE swing for the fence is Hyatt. If you can recall my comparison for him, Will Fuller, and what he did for the Houston offense pre-injury (#1 in NFL in yards per target in 2020, #3 in 2018) you may want to consider taking him in the first round. Even though he is such a one-dimensional guy, his ability within that dimension is potentially special. And that dimension is also what every team in the league wants on offense and fears defensively. Credible deep speed that can get over and stay over the top of the defense. Throw in the fact he tracks and catches the ball at a high level and yes, he could easily end up a first rounder. Personally, I struggle with number of boxes that remain unchecked. The route tree, strength against contact, sudden change of direction, yards after contact. There is a lot to unwind here but I would be lying if I said he doesn’t excite me.
How does a guy like this fall out of the first two rounds? If you asked me to bet on him being taken in round one or round three, all my chips would have been put on the former. While almost all of his production in college came in one season and there are several boxes unchecked, speed kills in the NFL. Everyone wants it. Hyatt’s elite movement was the easiest thing to scout in the world. Watching him separate vertically in such a hurry and then lengthen that space with each step against SEC defenses really was something. He has a standout trait that nobody in this NYG position group has. Sure, Campbell and Slayton can get downfield, but Hyatt is on a different level. In addition, the trait he has but very few talk about because they are obsessed with the speed centers around his ball skills. Hyatt can track the ball over his shoulder, and he snags it with his hands. It is one thing to be a burner that gets over the top, but not everyone can track the ball with balance while maintaining speed. That is why I am optimistic about his upside.
The trade value chart I use says this was a dead-even exchange. NYG gave up their 3rd and 4th to move up 16 spots. This is an evaluation I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for. I discussed (and so has everyone else) the upside and element he brings to the table. Hyatt truly is the most exciting player in this NYG draft class. But there is no denying the risk. Hyatt has been thrown the ball 151 times over his career. Jordan Addison was targeted 144 times in 2021 alone. Zay Flowers, 124 times in 2022 alone. Just 14 career starts for a kid that played in an offense that almost never had guys change sides of the field or alter alignments. There were passing plays where he did not even have to run a route because of the half-field concept. The 176-pounder rarely dealt with contested situations. According to PFF, he had a grand total 13 of them his entire career. Addison? 49. Flowers? 41. Johnston? 54. Mims? 30. Tillman? 39. Now, perhaps it is unfair to throw some of those names in there because all of them besides Tillman were taken way ahead of Hyatt, but the point is that Hyatt is such an unknown. After a year of the Daboll/Kafka offense, however, I feel optimistic this is going to work out. Hyatt can change this offense. Both the trade up and selection were undoubtedly warranted.
4) #172 (5): Eric Gray – RB/Oklahoma – 5’9/207
NFL Comparison: Mark Ingram / NO
Senior entry. Three-year starter from Memphis, TN. Spent two years at Tennessee before transferring to Oklahoma for his final two seasons. Second team All-Big 12 in 2022. Ended his career with almost double the usage and production of any other season in his career, finishing with the ninth most single-season rushing yards in Oklahoma history. Gray brings a tremendous physical profile and body to the table. He looks like he is manufactured in a running back factory and has the quality tape to back it up. He can fit into any running scheme but will be best suited for action between the tackles. There is where he can truly maximize the plus-burst, balance, and strength. Gray also has proven to carry a pair of elite hands as a receiver. While he may not end up with the best long speed in the group, Gray will create explosive plays with how decisive and violent he can run downhill while always maintaining the ability to abruptly stop and change direction. Gray is an ideally-built, versatile team player that fits into the every down role at the next level.
*Gray was a favorite of mine when it came to the surface level scouting. He is not a very big guy, but he is huge in the right places. His lower half is put together almost like Saquon. His short limbs work well with the kind of movement we need to see out of running backs. Short, choppy, balanced movements that can get in and out of small spaces in a hurry. When he reaches the open field, he can be caught from behind but do not overlook just how much his burst can create initially. Gray is a guy that, if he hooks up with the right team (SF, PHI, BAL) – he is going to be a 1,000-yard rusher. An overlooked attribute in his game shows up as a receiver. He was targeted a lot (102 times last three years combined) and dropped just two of them, a very good number for anyone let alone a back with power.
It was a long start to day three for NYG. Because of the two trade ups, they had to watch 99 players come off the board before selecting again. Because of the difference in values from team to team, this is the area of the draft where players “drop” frequently. It must have been hard for Schoen to see so many guys go, some of which I am sure they had high value on. #128 overall and #160 overall formerly belonged to them but they had to watch other teams make those picks because they wanted Banks and Hyatt. Many speculated NYG taking a running back at some point in this draft. In a 7-round mock I did with one of the other scouts from Ourlads for the Draft Guide, I took Jahmyr Gibbs for NYG in round two (who ended up going #12 overall Thursday). I bring that up because I think the position was on the table all weekend. The long-term status of Saquon Barkley is very much an unknown. My gut is leaning toward 2023 being the final year we see him in blue.
This selection gives NYG a solid year to find out what Gray can be at the next level. I have long viewed him as a pro back, a guy that will outlast multiple running backs drafted ahead of him. Seeing him on tape and you think he is a 225 pounder. The lower body is thick, almost Saquon-thick. But the lower-than-perceived weight stems from the fact he is not a broad guy at all. In fact the sub 72” wing span was the fifth smallest of all the backs at the Combine. He has short limbs and a specific body type. It helps him with power production and short area burst but will cap his long-stride speed and ability to pass protect and keep tacklers away from his frame via the stiff arm. Very similar body type to Ahmad Bradshaw. Gray can take Gary Brightwell’s spot on this depth chart by the end of 2023, but it will not come easily. His receiving skill set is an overlooked component to his game but then again, those short arms will pop up on third down the most. And Brightwell will not be giving anything up without a fight. I see Gray as the second-best pure runner on this team and even if he isn’t THE guy long term, I trust his skill set and its ability to translate to the league a lot. NYG fans will love the natural ability to see and cut like a classic ideal zone runner. Great value here at the end of round five.
5) #209 (6): Tre Hawkins III – CB/Old Dominion – 6’2/188
NFL Comparison: Greedy Williams / PHI
Fifth year senior from Temple, TX. Spent two seasons at Trinity Valley Community College before transferring to Old Dominion. Had his first season there canceled due to Covid-19. He started two years on the outside and produced across the entire stat sheet. He puts together an impressive blend of tools catapulted by elite vertical speed and burst. Once he diagnoses the route, his reactionary skill are sudden, twitchy, and explosive. He does not hesitate against the run and will attack the ball carriers hands, forcing fumbles (six over his career). Hawkins III lacks the feel in zone coverage and is late to notice underneath routes, but the tools are all there to develop him into a quality backup down the road. PFA.
*I did not write more than that on Hawkins III leading up to the draft. I had three Old Dominion tapes, and I left the scouting process with a PFA grade on him. His name came back across my email after an alert that comes from a certain echelon of Pro Day workout performances. I gave the numbers a look and while they did boost his overall grade on the stack, it kept him below the mark. Apologies if that isn’t enough on him.
There was something interesting I noted, however. The 4.40 surprised me. One of my game notes says “Potential move to S”. The school at him listed at 6’3”. The scouting list I get over summer had him as a projected 4.60 forty (that is from a pro scout). His tape then showed some lack of lateral fluidity, but he was obviously a physical kid that played downhill with violence. He was good tackler, and I trusted his ability to catch up to receivers vertically. All of that and his name was introduced as a “defensive back”. This has me wondering if he is the guy they play to move into the hybrid CB/S role or even someone they will try to develop as a straight safety. On paper, it makes sense to me. The film backs it up, too. Regardless, this was a traits-led selection that also brings a physical/aggressive approach to the table. Remember that day three is also about building special teams (returners and coverage units). That is where Hawkins III will start off and he has a path to the 53-man roster.
6) 246 (7): Jordon Riley – DT/Oregon – 6’5/338
NFL Comparison: Jonathan Ford / GB
Sixth year senior from New Bern, NC. One year starter that arrived at Oregon (his fourth stop) after stints at North Carolina, Nebraska, and Garden City Community College. Riley is a mammoth-sized interior defensive lineman that played his best football in his final year of eligibility. The natural bender shows an accurate punch with quality lockout. The ball location skills need work, and he does not have much of a pass rush repertoire. He is overly reliant on the bull rush because of past knee issues, there is not much drive behind it. He is a long-term project that is older than the average prospect and will not offer a lot of versatility. The lack of baseline athleticism will limit the ceiling beyond a camp body.
*I can see what NYG liked in Riley. He is a massive body in every direction. He will fit right in next to the likes of Dexter Lawrence and A’Shawn Robinson. The initial hand strike and lockout strength will look good, and he is simply a hard guy for linemen to get movement on. This is a classic 3-4 nose tackle all the way. Remember last year’s 5th rounder DJ Davidson was the emerging backup interior run defender before he tore his ACL. Riley could be a safety net for that role, but my guess is he will stick to the practice squad while this defensive staff tries to enhance his pass rush repertoire. Where is the upside? It will stem from the power, length, and technique because his athletic ability is bottom of the barrel.
7) 254 (7): Gervarrius Owens – S/Houston – 6’0/195
NFL Comparison: Kerby Joseph / DET
Fifth year senior. Four-year starter from Moore, OK. Spent three seasons at Houston after transferring from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M where he also started and was a JUCO All-American. Owens was a cornerback for a year before transitioning to safety in 2020. His size and movement traits better with what we see in the middle but there is enough speed and fluidity to occasionally play a corner role here and there. Owens is an explosive, well-built missile from the back end that can really put his foot in the ground and go. His closing speed gets him to where he needs to be in a blink. Owens will flash big play ability but he also flashes big mistake potential. He sells out on his initial read and will get caught by looks-offs and double routes routinely. The missed tackle rate also strengthens the “all or nothing” feel to his game. If he can channel some of the aggression and improve his ability to finish plays, Owens can be a starting caliber safety. If not, he will be a special teamer and quality backup. 4th-5th round.
*Owens is a guy I remember first watching in November. As I have said a few times, my focus had to be majority offense this year and I was forced into playing some catch up on the defensive guys. Anyway, I watched two plays of his and immediately put him in the draftable tier of the my safety stack. Two plays. I think he could have gone a lot higher than this too but the numbers game caught up to him. Owens could have easily been a 5th round pick. The trait I like the most is ball tracking and it is easy to see the former receiver/corner in him. The safety group now has a lot of competition and I would say Owens will fit right into the tier of the guys that hope to be backups and special teamers. He is just as talented. This will breed the best results from these guys throughout preseason.
Overall, this seven-player draft class was simply the next step in their rebuilding plan. As I said earlier, this is a front office and coaching staff with a real plan. Both from the personnel side and player development side. They came into the draft knowing they would not be able to solve every issue. This was and is a roster with several holes and it was not realistic, considering the resources available, to patch them all up with a few picks. They have had two drafts together so far and it included 8 draft picks in rounds one through three combined. 3 offensive linemen. 2 wide receivers. 2 cornerbacks. 1 outside linebacker. Assuming their key picks pan out, expect year three to continue the trend of those premium positions (pass rusher would be next). Start prepping for the 2024 Draft!
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