May 222023
 

Ryan Cowden – © USA TODAY Sports

GIANTS ADD RYAN COWDEN TO FRONT OFFICE…
Although not officially announced, the New York Giants have reportedly hired Ryan Cowden to a senior front office position. Pro Football Talk is reporting that his title will be executive advisor to the general manager.

Cowden’s entire career has been spent with two teams: the Carolina Panthers (2000-2015) and Tennessee Titans (2016-2023). Ironically, in January 2022, he was interviewed by John Mara for the team’s then vacant general manager position that was eventually filled by Joe Schoen. Cowden and Schoen worked together with the Panthers from 2001-2007 and reportedly have remained close friends. In fact, Schoen mentioned Cowden in his introductory press conference with the Giants in January 2022 as someone who has a great influence on him.

With the Panthers, Cowden served as a scouting assistant (2000), area scout (2001-2007), national scout (2008-2012), national scout/senior college scout (2012-2014), and assistant director of college scouting (2014.2015).

With the Titans, Cowden served as director of player personnel (2016-2017) and vice president of player personnel (2018-2023). He also served as the team’s interim general manager from December 2022 until January 2023.

GIANTS SIGN TWO MORE DRAFT PICKS…
The Giants signed cornerback Deonte Banks (1st round) and WR Jalin Hyatt (3rd round), two of their selections from the 2023 NFL Draft.

The team had earlier signed RB Eric Gray (5th round), CB Tre Hawkins (6th round), DL Jordon Riley (7th round), and S Gervarrius Owens (7th round).

Only OC John Michael Schmitz (2nd round) remains unsigned.

CHARGERS SIGN NICK WILLIAMS…
The Los Angeles Chargers have signed New York Giants unrestricted free agent defensive lineman Nick Williams to a 1-year contract.

The Giants signed Williams as an unrestricted free agent from the Detroit Lions in late July 2022. Williams was placed on Injured Reserve in early November with a biceps injury. In 2022, he played in eight games with seven starts, accruing 15 tackles, two quarterback hits, and two pass defenses. Williams played 45 percent of defensive snaps in games that he appeared. The 6’4”, 310-pound Williams was originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has spent time with the Steelers Steelers (2013-2014), Kansas City Chiefs (2014-2016), Miami Dolphins (2016-2017), Chicago Bears (2018-2019), and Detroit Lions (2020-2021).

For an overview of the team’s offseason free agent activity, see the New York Giants 2023 Free Agency Scorecard section of the website.

May 052023
 
Brian Daboll, New York Giants (May 13, 2022)

Brian Daboll – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS ROOKIE MINI-CAMP BEGINS…
The first day of the New York Giants two-day rookie mini-camp was held on Friday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. There were 73 players in attendance, including the team’s seven 2023 draft picks, nine signed undrafted rookie free agents, five players previously on the roster, and 52 tryout players (including a few veterans).

“Had meetings last night with these rookies,” said Head Coach Brian Daboll before practice. “There’s really kind of four groups here, if you will. There are the drafted guys, the UDFAs that we signed, the tryout players, which I’d say there’s a considerable amount of them, and then some of our players who are able to participate.

“We’ll have two days here of work. I wouldn’t say extensive work, just kind of get their feet wet. But it was good to get the players in here yesterday and get to meet a bunch of new guys. Again, you never know what you find out here. Ryder (Anderson) was a tryout guy last year and made our roster. (Tomon) Fox was a UDFA who ended up being on a roster and playing some plays. It’s good to kind of get to know these guys and for them to get to know us. I’d say that’s really the biggest thing is to get to know the player and let them know how we do things. The physical stuff, that’ll all come here in the next few weeks.”

PARTICIPANTS…
Draft Picks (7):

  • CB Deonte Banks
  • OC John Michael Schmitz
  • WR Jalin Hyatt
  • RB Eric Gray
  • CB Tre Hawkins III
  • DL Jordon Riley
  • S Gervarrius Owens

Signed Undrafted Rookie Free Agents (9):

  • QB Tommy DeVito
  • WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton
  • TE/FB Ryan Jones
  • OLB Habakkuk Baldonado
  • ILB Dyontae Johnson
  • ILB Troy Brown
  • CB Gemon Green
  • S Alex Cook
  • LS Cameron Lyons

New York Giants “Veterans” (5):

  • RB Jashaun Corbin
  • WR Kalil Pimpleton
  • WR Makai Polk
  • CB Leonard Johnson
  • S Trenton Thompson

Undrafted rookie and veteran tryout players (52).

GIANTS SIGN THREE DRAFT PICKS…
The Giants have signed the following three of their 2023 NFL Draft selections:

  • RB Eric Gray (5th round)
  • CB Tre Hawkins (6th round)
  • S Gervarrius Owens (7th round)

GIANTS SIGN NINE ROOKIE FREE AGENTS…
As indicated above, the Giants have officially signed nine undrafted rookie free agents:

QB Tommy DeVito, 6’2”, 210lbs, 4.64, University of Illinois (Video)
Transfer from Syracuse, where he was benched. DeVito lacks height, but he is a physically tough quarterback. However, pressure can bother him and he needs to play with more consistency.

WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton, 6’3”, 224lbs, 4.38, West Virginia University (Video)
Wheaton combines excellent size, speed, and overall athletic ability. He can can high-point a ball and win contested catches. However, he is a poor route runner and should be more productive than he has been. Inconsistent hands.

TE/FB Ryan Jones, 6’3”, 247lbs, 4.78, East Carolina University
Jones caught 41 passes for 413 yards and five touchdowns in his final collegiate season.

OLB Habakkuk Baldonado, 6’5”, 260lbs, 4.78, University of Pittsburgh (Video)
Baldonado was born in Rome, Italy. He played defensive end in a 4-3 defense in college, but projects to edge in Wink Martindale’s defense. His best season was in 2021, when he had 9.5 sacks. Baldonado has good size and strength and he plays hard. However, he lacks ideal quickness as a pass rusher.

ILB Dyontae Johnson, 6’2’’, 230lbs, 4.76, University of Toledo
Johnson had 109 tackles, eight tackles for losses, three pass defenses, three sacks, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries in his final collegiate season. He is productive and instinctive, but lacks ideal size and speed.

ILB Troy Brown, 6’1”, 220, 4.69, University of Mississippi
Brown lacks ideal size and and strength, but he diagnoses well and has proven to be productive (93 tackles in his final collegiate season).

CB Gemon Green, 6’2”, 186lbs, 4.52, University of Michigan (Video)
Green lacks ideal speed for the position, but he has experience in multiple coverages, including man. Green does not make many plays on the football. He plays a physical game but needs to be more consistent in run support.

S Alex Cook, 6’1’’, 196lbs, 4.68, University of Washington
Cook has average size and lacks ideal speed. He is an aggressive player who is better against the run. He does not make many plays on the football in the passing game. Team captain.

LS Cameron Lyons, 6’0’’, 225lbs, 5.00, University of North Carolina-Charlotte

HEAD COACH BRIAN DABOLL…
The  transcript and video of Brian Daboll’s press conference on Friday are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:

May 012023
 
Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee Volunteers (November 16, 2022)

Jalin Hyatt – © USA TODAY Sports

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Apr 282023
 
John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota Golden Gophers (December 28, 2021)

John Michael Schmitz – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS DRAFT JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ AND JALIN HYATT…
On the second day of the 2023 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected:

  • 2nd Round: OC John Michael Schmitz, 6’4”, 301lbs, 5.35, University of Minnesota
  • 3rd Round: WR Jalin Hyatt, 6’0”, 176lbs, 4.4, University of Tennessee

The Giants traded up in the third round, moving from the 26th spot to 10, giving the Los Angeles Rams their 4th-round selection.

Sy’56’s Scouting Report on John Michael Schmitz: 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. He 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 Schmitz. 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 likely 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.

Sy’56’s Scouting Report on Jalin Hyatt: 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.

Media Q&A with General Manager Joe Schoen and Head Coach Brian Daboll (Video):

Q. You’re not shy about making these trades. Can you give us your thought process behind it?

JOE SCHOEN: It was a good player that we liked that was kind of sticking out on our board, so at a position that we thought he could help us at receiver. He ran 4-3 and some change, and you could feel his speed on film. That’s legit. Just a player we liked, and we spent some time with, and we thought the value was good for what we had to give up to go get him.

Q. How much of a priority has it been this off-season to make this offense more explosive?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, I would say both sides of the ball, just team speed in general. O(ffense), d(efense) and special teams. I think we did that with some of the free agents we signed: Parris Campbell can roll, Jeff (Smith) can roll, (Bobby) Okereke runs well. We’ve upgraded the speed in general; (Darren) Waller. So yeah, that’s definitely something watching our team last year, we just felt we needed to get faster in all three phases.

Q. Every time you make a pick, you know that means you might have to not get another guy, right. So when you look at the totality of today, you got a center, who we assume will challenge for a starting job, and one of the fastest receivers in this draft, did you think that was feasible to get these two players today?

JOE SCHOEN: Not really. One of those deals, we were joking around after we took the center (John Michael Schmitz) and were like, hey, wonder if we can get them both. I told the guys, just start making calls when it looks like we’re going to do it for our four, when it comes into range, and we made a couple phone calls and some teams were interested in doing it. We’re ecstatic to be able to get him.

Q. How much of a deep threat guy is (Jalin) Hyatt?

JOE SCHOEN: He can roll. I was at that Alabama game. I can’t remember why I came in late, but I was a little bit late. But I was on the field for the first half. I was coming from another game, landed there, and first half I was on the field, and you could really feel his speed. It’s legit 4-3.

Q. Do you typically watch games from the sideline?

JOE SCHOEN: No, but again, sometimes flight delays and everything else. I had some issues with my travel. I was able to get there for pregame but not enough time to see the body type. So I stayed down there and kind of looked at the guys physically and went up to the press box after that. Yeah, you could see more from the press box. I could see it better.

Q. Why do you think he fell as far as he did?

JOE SCHOEN: I’m not sure. I’m glad he was there, though. Josh Heupel, the head coach at Tennessee is a good friend of mine. We go way back. Oklahoma was my area a long time ago when he was a quarterback coach. I’ve known him for a long time, and he was the head coach at Central Florida when we took Gabe Davis, when we were in Buffalo. There’s some history there. I called him at some point today and just checked on Hyatt. We had him in on a visit. Again, I’m not sure why he was there, but we feel good about him and glad he was.

Q. What’s your impression of Hyatt and how important was it to you to get more of that speed around Daniel (Jones)?

BRIAN DABOLL: I think he’s a good player. I think he runs some of the routes that we run here. You can see, a little bit like Gabe, how it might translate. But again, everything is new for him. He’s a young guy. We’ll throw him in the mix with the other receivers and let those guys compete it out. A good visit here. Definitely has some qualities that you like when you’re watching him. Good young man. So, happy we have him.

Q. Quick follow, everybody always is happy with their draft, nobody walks away saying it sucked, right, but when you look at just what you’ve done so far, you’ve kind of hit on three needs in these three first picks here. Is that something you anticipated being able to accomplish going into this?

BRIAN DABOLL: Well, you never know. We have a lot of meetings, I would say, leading up to the draft and then these last few days and you go through a lot of different scenarios. It’s not an inexact science but I’d say there’s a lot of preparation. I think Joe does a fantastic job working the phones and being prepared, along with, I’d say, Tim (McDonnell) and Brandon (Brown) and Dennis (Hickey), rest of the scouts, they have done a great job. So again, you draft these players. You put grades on them. You come in; you coach them up. But you let them compete it out. That’s what we’re all about. So, it’s just adding new pieces just like we did in free agency. We’ll get them out there on the field and see how they do,

Q. Did what the Eagles did yesterday on their defensive line make the center position that much more of a focus for you today?

JOE SCHOEN: Not really. You know, it was a position we were looking, the entire offensive line. Again, we looked across all of them. You’re always look the in the division, it’s important how you match up. I go back to when he was at New England, and they had the two really good tight ends. You are always trying to figure out who can cover Gronk or whoever it may be. You’re always looking at it. But I think being strong in offensive and defensive line, regardless is always going to be a priority of ours. Schmitz is a great guy, I know we haven’t talked about him, but smart, tough, dependable, played a lot of ball. Had a great Senior Bowl. He’s a good player and a great kid.

Q. What do you like about the pairing of Daniel and — those two together?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, we’ll see how it works out. I know we’ve spent time with him. He’s a great kid and he embodies what we want to be about. He’s a good football player. Again, everybody is going to come in here, compete, earn their spot, and, you know, we’ll see how it falls, but he’s wired the right way.

Q. A couple of the knocks on Jalin, a little bit slight, what people are saying. When you look at the frame and his body type what gives you the confidence that maybe he can grow into it, or he can play with that body type in the NFL?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, I think he’s still young. There’s a similar body type down the road that we play twice a year, that’s a good player. (He) was drafted much higher. But again, you look at it, you look at the group, you know, how tall they are, how long they are, thick they are, and you know, I know the offensive staff and Dabs, they do a great job of putting the guys in the best position to succeed; and what are the routes they run best, how can we accentuate what they do well, and then they will kind of formulate the offense around that. I think he’ll be fine.

Q. Schmitz was the one guy you didn’t trade up for. Is that because you felt he was going to fall?

JOE SCHOEN: I wish. I wish. Yeah, I wish I had a crystal ball. It’s hard. Patience, I wouldn’t say is one of my strengths, and I often get tested this time of year because it’s like anything, if you want it and you have the resources to get it, go get it. I’ve been on the other side that when you’re sitting there kicking yourself for not doing something you and don’t like the subsequent result from not doing what you could have done and you were okay with, you know, what it was going to cost you. So yeah, I mean, Chicago jumped up from us, and you thought, okay, who knows what they are going to take. There were a couple of players there that we liked, but you’ve got to be at peace with that if it happens and say, hey, let’s just stay patient and we did that. You know, any type of move-up would have cost us another pick and maybe you don’t end up with Jalin. So, you know, I’m glad it worked out the way it did.

Q. When you say that last year you couldn’t do this to the level you did this year, you needed for picks last year. Is it fair to say you can cherry-pick a little bit more?

JOE SCHOEN: No, that’s a good question. I think we had a little more resources in free agency and so we were able to add more depth pieces in March and April, you know, along with maybe some of that’s practice squad guys we had last year that had developed, or the Isaiah Hodgins’ of the world, so had a little bit more depth. We added some starting pieces in free agency, guys that will compete for starting spots. So maybe you don’t need the depth and the numbers that I felt like we needed last year.

Q. Was Hyatt a guy you considered where you took Schmitz?

JOE SCHOEN: He was in the range.

Q. Just in terms of the complicated nature of the routes you guys run in this offense, for Jalin, I would imagine, he has a diverse game to be able to run what you guys run at different spots in this game?

BRIAN DABOLL: I’d say this: With all the players, particularly, the young ones that come in, you evaluate them on tape, and then you get them here, and you try to do what they do well. You have a good idea watching the tape, but sometimes they come in and they can do a few more things maybe you didn’t want to do as much as you thought you would do with one of them. Our job as a coaching staff, our offensive coaches, whether it’s receivers, tight ends, running backs, is let’s figure out what these guys do well. We have a pretty expansive system, which I’m sure most people do. But once you pare it down and find out who is going to be running those things, you make sure you adapt and make sure there are things your players can do well whether it’s quarterback, receivers, blocking schemes with the line, defensive players. That’s the job of a coaching staff. But yeah, and our other third-round pick was Waller, so we tried to do what we can do with him, too.

JOE SCHOEN: It’s true. Pick’s coming up probably.

Q. I’ll give you the offensive line question then. When you have a young guy coming in like Schmitz, how much of it is, can he handle the physical load but also the mental capacity to be able to do this job?

BRIAN DABOLL: Regardless of if it’s this offense or any other offense, you’re come in from college and you’re playing against grown men up front. I’d say there’s a learning curve mentally, but there’s also a physical curve, too, and we won’t find that out until August. But this guy’s tough. He’s smart. He’s got a good frame. Former wrestler. Good leader. We’ll throw him in the mix, let him compete it out with the other guys and see how it ends up.

Q. Both guys on the offensive line, on Schmitz, when he had him in the conference call, he described himself as “nasty” and he sounded like a polite young man on the telephone. Is that something you have seen on film or noticed when you took him to dinner what’s your take on that?

BRIAN DABOLL: Yeah, you see it on film.

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, you see it on film. Not when you’re sitting across from him but when you turn on the film, you see it.

Q. Nothing bad happened during dinner or anything like that?

BRIAN DABOLL: No. We did a Face Time with him, the whole group and he basically wanted to put his helmet and shoulder pads on that instant, standing with his parents. He loves the game of football and just another good offensive lineman to work with.

Q. So you saw a lot of things where Schmitz and (Joe) Tippmann were almost interchangeable; one could go in front of the — did you like Schmitz more than Tippmann?

JOE SCHOEN: There’s a lot of offensive linemen we liked in this draft, and we went through — I won’t get into how we have them ranked or something. They are both good football players, both in New York and I think they will both have successful careers.

Q. Yesterday we saw Wink (Martindale) give a pretty aggressive hug to the general manager after the cornerback. As the head coach, are you allowed to express that when you get a 4.3 receiver?

BRIAN DABOLL: Sure, I did it with the Tae (Deonte Banks), too. Joe does a great job, like I said, of leading the entire draft. These scouts that are busting their tail and they are gone for six months, they might have, you know, however many people that they want to select, and we don’t select any of them from their area, if you can imagine that, they are gone from their families and working their tails off. They do a great job of setting up the board, communicating with the coaches. It’s a really good process but I’d say this guy leads it up and he does a great job of it.

Q. Asked the wrong question. How did (Mike) Kafka respond to the pick of receiver?

JOE SCHOEN: He’s jacked up, too. Yeah, him, Mike Groh, everybody is excited. Kafka is excited about the center, too.

Q. Schmitz is a center and you guys had talked about maybe having Ben (Bredeson) play a little center, so how does that work? Will Ben compete with Schmitz as center, or do you want Ben as your left guard? How do you see that that? How do you see Ben’s role shaking out now?

BRIAN DABOLL: We’ll find out. Throw them all out there. And again, we haven’t had practice yet. We have selected some new players and some free agents, and we’ll start phase two on Monday, which is a little bit different from phase one, but can’t get out in front of each other until we get to phase three and that’s really a teaching type of camp, if you will.

I don’t think you want to put too much on the rookies early on because, you know, let’s be honest, they have been on the road. Tae has been on the road, however many visits. They have to re-acclimate themselves and you want to be smart with them, and slowly integrate them into the system. But that’s what you do every year. You try to build as much competition for your roster as you can, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

Q. How much of a mind game is it when you’re in the draft room and you are picking second round, saying, well, if I take the center now, am I still going to get the wide receiver or how do you play that? Do you just take the best player or what?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, in that case we did. We weren’t even really thinking about that. We weren’t thinking about the subsequent pick. There’s something out there that you want, or you desire, and you’re waiting and waiting, don’t know if it’s going to be there, it’s tough, and it can be stressful. So that’s why again, sometimes you are aggressive and sometimes you move back. Last year in the second round, we moved back twice. Based on the situation, who is there, where you are as a roster, you’re always taking that into account. We met extensively today and went through different scenarios and the roster and kind of wants and needs on the roster, and you know, I think it worked out well for us this evening.

Q. When you’re talking to so many different teams like you were tonight, looking into trades, how many different people are on the phone at once? Are you on the phone? Is Brandon making some of the calls? How is it all working?

JOE SCHOEN: Last night, the first round, it’s a little bit slower. You get more time to turn in your pick. There are so many different scenarios, especially last night. So that was more myself. Then today, it’s a group effort. Dabs, actually, executed his first trade. He initiated the trade with the Rams; so, I congratulate him on that. But no, if you know somebody, hey, why don’t you shoot the Rams a text, or you know, give them a call and again, hey, this is what it looks like it would be, does it make sense and we just call and say, hey, when you’re on the clock, let us know.

Q. Was that a FaceTime trade then?

JOE SCHOEN: That was a test.

BRIAN DABOLL: That was not a Face Time trade.

JOE SCHOEN: We had to type it in his phone for him. He said, “Here, just type it in for me.”

BRIAN DABOLL: I’m a Face Timer, that’s about it.

Media Q&A with John Michael Schmitz:

Q. Do you like being called John Michael? John? What do you prefer?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: Well, I kind of just went along with the flow, but I was always John Michael growing up because I’m a junior and my dad was always John. The name just kind of stuck with me.

Q. John Michael it is. What’s tonight been like for you? What does it mean it get drafted by the Giants?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: Yeah, I mean I’m still shocked right now, just taking it all in with the people that you love and family and friends – it’s been amazing.

Q. What was your experience with (Offensive Line Coach) Bobby Johnson? I know he was at your pro day. What was your vibe with him and your interaction with him in the process?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: I love Coach Johnson. Spent a lot of time with him, obviously with the pro day and a dinner before that. It was amazing to connect with him. He’s a good coach and just what he’s doing with that offensive line, I’m so excited to be a part of it.

Q. What do you feel like your greatest strength is at the position? Do you feel like you’re better at the run, protecting? According to PFF, you only had two sacks allowed in your career.

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: I would just say, my mentality as a whole, my toughness, my grit, the way I finish plays is what sets me apart from other people, so that’s what I’m going to go with.

Q. What did you think when you heard you were going to land with the Giants and how likely did you think it was throughout the process?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: I always thought it was definitely a possibility to go with the Giants, and I’m so happy to be a part of this team. I’m ready to get to work, that’s what I told the coaches when we first talked. I’m so excited.

Q. Were you in Minnesota at all to pay attention to the Giants playoff victory?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: I was actually at the game. That’s the best part, I was at the game.

Q. And? Who were you rooting for?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: You know, I was at the game just watching football, that’s all I’ve got to say (laughs).

Q. Did you know they lost both centers to free agency?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: You know, that’s something that I didn’t really look at. I’m just excited for the 2023 Giants football team and I’m excited to be a part of it and get to work.

Q. (General Manager) Joe Schoen has said recently that this is a complicated offense. What makes you confident that you can come in right away as a rookie and dictate terms on offense?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: Honestly, it’s just my mentality, coming in. (inaudible) good enough, I would just say, I love a challenge, so learning the game even better than I have, and I can’t wait to work with Coach Johnson, pick his brain. I mean, he’s going to help me out a lot. I’m so excited.

Q. How much did you go through some of the intricacies of this offense during your visit with Bobby and the talks that you’ve had with the coaches up until this point?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: They just throw basic things at you here and there, nothing too crazy. So yeah, that’s all I’d say.

Q. Is there anybody you admire at the position?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: What I always said in my interviews with the teams, I really like how (Buccaneers Center) Ryan Jensen plays the game. I mean, he’s one of the nastiest people on the field and just the way he plays, his mentality, you know that he’s going to bring it every play. He’s a tremendous leader, also.

Q. Would you describe yourself as “nasty”?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: Yes, yes, that’s the biggest thing I would say. The nasty, tough, grit factor, definitely.

Q. Has (Quarterback) Daniel Jones reached out to you yet?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: I am not sure if he has.

Q. What do you think that relationship will be like, will you come in here and attach yourself to him at the hip a little bit?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: Yeah, it’s definitely important to have a great relationship with your quarterback, and you guys have to be on the same page. The quarterback and the offensive line, the running back, especially in pass pro, they have to work together. It’s very important to have a great connection with your quarterback.

Q. Some of the scouting reports describe you as, “strong, tough, dependable, his footwork needs work.” How do you respond to that?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: You don’t really listen to everything that’s always out there. You focus on what the guys that I’ve been working with (Guard) Alex Boone, Jeremiah Sirles, my agent, Coach Johnson, and I mean, I’m a very hard ‘critiquer’ of myself. I always want to get better. There’s always stuff to get better at, at the end of the day.

Q. The Giants obviously do need a center. Do you intend to come in here and grab that starting job immediately?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: That’s not my decision. I’m going to be coming in to work and earn the coaches’ and players’ trust to take that role. But that is the coaches’ position to do that.

Q. There was a lot of talk about how you and Joe Tippmann were the top two centers in this draft. What did you think when you saw him get drafted by the Jets and does that — how do you sort of take that in and what’s the thoughts about playing in the same city as him now?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: You always look at other people that got drafted in front of you. I mean, honestly at this point, I’m just focused on the New York Giants and focused on this team and doing everything I can to make this team better and bring it a Super Bowl. I’m so excited.

Q. This division has a lot of strong defensive lines, Eagles, Washington, Dallas. From your vantage point as a center, what does it take to handle an elite defensive line for four quarters?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: I would just say setting the tone from the start. You’ve got to be physical. You’ve got to set the tone from the start, first quarter to fourth quarter. It’s not going to happen right away. We always used to say, if you are going to run the ball, you’re going to have body blows and the body blows turn to like 25, 30-yard touchdowns, and I mean, you just continue to wear those guys down, the defensive linemen, and eventually they’ll break.

Q. What about your personality through the years, it can be intimidating for a rookie to step into a center with a lot of veterans, especially in a big city. Do you relish that opportunity to be able to have that voice in the huddle, have that command when you basically have guys around you who have been in this league and who have done some things in this league, won a playoff game in this league? What’s your expectation from that level?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: I’m very excited to connect with this offensive line group. Just get to know these guys and I feel like I’m a really good leader, a communicator. As a center, you have to be a really good communicator, and a leader position sometimes comes natural to that position because you’re the first one to the line, and you set the calls, you set the protections, and you’re in control of that offense, especially as the center-point of the offensive line. I would just say that.

Q. Do you ever run into (Inside Linebacker) Micah McFadden lately?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: I have not, no.

Q. Where are you, where were you when you found out about the pick?

JOHN MICHAEL SCHMITZ: I was at home in Homewood, Illinois. We’re just with family and friends, about 20-25 people. It was special.

Media Q&A with Jalin Hyatt:

Q. What was this draft experience like for you? Did you expect to still be on the board in the third round? What have the last two nights been like?

JALIN HYATT: Yeah, you know, definitely something where you’re just waiting for your name to be called. Really for me, I don’t care where it was, what round, what team. I just wanted to be on team. New York came and they really blessed me and my family and I’m forever grateful for it and I just can’t wait to do what I have to do when I get there and meet my new teammates. Get there and be competitive and do what I have to do.

Q. Given your speed, how dangerous of a deep threat are you?

JALIN HYATT: Yeah, I feel like I’m probably the best deep threat receiver in the draft. I really do believe that, and Giants they really got a playmaker, they got a dynamic playmaker, an explosive playmaker – and that’s what I want to bring and add to the team.

Q. Is there part of you that always spends time wanting to show that you’re more than what the speed game is in your arsenal?

JALIN HYATT: Oh, yeah, yes, sir. Yes, sir. I mean, I love it when I’m counted out and the Giants, they took a chance on me. So, I’m forever grateful but at the same time, I know now it’s time to put in the work and now I know it’s time to go. Like I said, I was never picked first for anything. I’m grateful for the Giants giving me an opportunity and I can’t wait to go and show and do what I have to do.

Q. Some scouting reports have mentioned your size and slender build as a possible concern and can you hold up in the NFL, is the question. What’s your response to that?

JALIN HYATT: Like I said, that’s something that I feel comfortable in. Now I’m around 188, 189, getting to where I want to get to my goal weight of 190. I still have a lot of things to work on but at the same time, definitely work on that with the Giants and I definitely know what I can do and what I’m capable of it and what type of player that I am. I really believe the Giants added somebody who can change the game and I can’t wait to do that and show that.

Q. What do you think you can get up to weight-wise?

JALIN HYATT: Yeah, I want to play at 190. I want to play at 190 this year, something I’m now feeling comfortable around just gaining weight and being in the weight room and doing a lot of work after the pro day. I’m really pleased with where I am now as far as training and I can’t wait to go to the Giants, I can’t wait to move and get the show moving.

Q. What did you play on last year?

JALIN HYATT: I played at around 175, 176.

Q. How much do you know about (Quarterback) Daniel Jones and how do you think your game will mesh with his?

JALIN HYATT: Yeah, Daniel, he already texted me. I can already tell he’s the leader of the team. Like I said, by the time I get up there, that’s one of the first things I’m going to meet with to understand what he does, what he likes in games, what his best throws, what’s he wants me to do for him. I think when you build that connection with a quarterback, you can go as far as you want to go.

Like I said, I’m going to be consistent, I’m going to be consistent in the facility and meeting with him and doing what he wants me to do for him, because I’m here to help him out. That’s why I can’t wait to do it.

Q. One of the questions is how the offense you play in college for wide receiver, the transition to the NFL, like when you look at NFL games or what you’ll be asked to do, how different do you think it will be?

JALIN HYATT: We did run a little different things offense, but at the same time, I played in pro-style offense before. It’s not like I always play spread my whole – I’ve played pro-style offense. I understand what I have to do and the roles to it.

But you know, that will be something that I will consistently learn from the playbook, from my old playbook, and I just can’t wait for the journey.

Q. What does it take to score five touchdowns in a game against Alabama and what do you think that did for you?

JALIN HYATT: Yeah, you know what it takes for that, you have to be consistent. You have to be consistent getting open and I really believe that’s one thing I’m very consistent on. When I get to the league, I want to be consistent in getting open and be consistent in the quarterback trusting me and making plays. That’s what I’m here for, so just here to show consistency, show a guy that’s willing to work, show a guy that’s hard worker but at the same time ready to prove his moment.

Q. Were you aware the Giants GM Joe Schoen was at that game?

JALIN HYATT: He told me. I wasn’t aware at first. I think when we went out to dinner or something, he told me about. It’s just crazy, you know how much Tennessee brings and a lot of people that comes to the games. I never thought a person, a guy like that will be at the game and later on down the road he’ll draft me. It’s crazy how things work but like I said, I’m blessed.

Q. What did Daniel say to you in his text?

JALIN HYATT: Yeah, he just said, “Are you ready to go”? Like, are you ready to go. Obviously, the Giants, we already are a playoff team and know what we have to do. I’m just here to add that other asset to it, and I just can’t wait to do what I have to do and meet with him and understand what he likes and what he wants to do. I’m just going to be there with him.

Q. You came up here for your visit, meeting with them, what was that like coming in the facility and everything?

JALIN HYATT: Oh, yeah, it was amazing. Never been to New York before in my life. Came up, my first time in New York was to meet the Giants and I really loved the coaching staff up there. Love everything that they are doing. I just love what they are doing and what I can be a part of, so there are already great players there. I’m here to learn and develop and at the same time prove why the Giants drafted me. I’m ready to do what I have to do.

Q. The Giants fans have looked at the receiver room and said, we don’t really have a target No. 1 receiver here. Do you think you can be an elite No. 1 receiver in the NFL and what gives you that confidence?

JALIN HYATT: Oh, yeah, 100 percent. My confidence comes from my hard work. It doesn’t matter what pick, what round it was going to be; and when I saw the Giants called me, I knew what I had to do and I knew what I’m capable of; I’m going to be learning from the players there, the receivers there, developing a bond with them, understand their style of football, getting plays down, understand the playbook, but at the same time I’m there to show my opportunity and show why I should be here.

Q. Did you mostly play in the slot in college and do you believe you can play outside, or do you think of yourself more as a slot?

JALIN HYATT: Yeah, I played slot in college mostly just based on what we did, a lot of motions and me going left to right side. I’m comfortable wherever they want to put me at. If that’s outside receiver, then that’s something I’ll be comfortable with. If it’s slot, that’s something I’ll be comfortable with.

I’m here for the team. I’m here for the coaches. I’m here for Daniel Jones and what he wants to do. They brought a great asset and I’m just here to prove why I’m here.

FRIDAY PRESS CONFERENCE WITH DEONTE BANKS…
Cornerback Deonte Banks, who the Giants drafted in the 1st round on Thursday, held a press conference at the team’s facility on Friday. The transcript and video are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube.

Apr 282023
 
Deonte Banks, Maryland Terrapins (October 22, 2022)

Deonte Banks – © USA TODAY Sports

With the 24th pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected cornerback Deonte Banks (University of Maryland). The Giants traded up one spot with the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchanged for their 25th pick in the 1st round, the 160th overall selection in the 5th round, and the 240th overall selection in the 7th round. Banks is 6’0” and 197 pounds. He has run a 4.35 40-yard dash.

Sy’56’s Scouting Report on CB Deonte Banks: Senior entry. Three-year starter but two of those years summed to just five starts combined because of Covid-19 and a shoulder injury that kept him out of all but two games. Honorable Mention All-Big Ten in 2022. Banks is a bit of an unknown when because of the lack of experience over that two-year span. That said, he did start as a true freshman in 2019 and looked fantastic in 2022. The movement traits are nearly off the charts and his aggressive play style will be attractive to defensive schemes that want to use a lot of man coverage. His rapid-fire footwork allows him to stay stick 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 tape, 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.

Media Q&A with General Manager Joe Schoen and Head Coach Brian Daboll (Video):

Q. On the decision to trade up to pick 24.

JOE SCHOEN: The way it went down and the way the board fell, we were getting depleted.

So it was the right thing to do for us. We do a lot of research on team needs, and what people need behind us, and including the team that we traded with. So that was a scenario we put together early in the day if we got there, and we were worried about anybody else coming up to that position. We had something in place with Jacksonville and it worked out.

Q. As it was unfolding today, maybe until about pick No. 19, it looked like it was playing out well for you. Even if you were looking at receivers, how tense does that start to get once it got to like 20, 21, 22?

JOE SCHOEN: I would say it got pretty tense. We had a lot of irons in the fire, whether it’s moving up, moving back. We had a lot of opportunities to move out of 25 if we would have stayed there.

So trying to manage phone calls with teams in front of us while also keeping track of options if we decided to move back. Then the other option was staying, make the pick at 25.

Q. The TV shot that caught Wink (Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale), looked like he might tackle you. Can you speak to what that was all about?

JOE SCHOEN: You guys know Wink’s defense and what he likes, and Deonte fits that mold “to a T”. He was ecstatic.

Q. What is it about him specifically that attracted you to him?

JOE SCHOEN: He’s a prototype from a size standpoint. He’s athletic. He’s physical. He can run. He ran 4.32 at the Combine. He has arm length, big hands. He’s been a four-year starter. He was hurt a year ago but he has played a lot of ball there at Maryland and schematically, he’s a good fit. And we spent a lot of time with him. Met with him at the Combine. He’s a guy that, you know, we went down to the pro day, and we spent a good amount of time with him, and again we felt comfortable with him.

Q. Are you surprised, you mentioned you were worrying about teams jumping in front of you. Did you think Jacksonville, maybe they could take him?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, if you look a lot of the mocks and just like you guys track the 30 visits, we track the 30 visits, and the reality is, the last four or five teams in a line there, when things looked like they were lining up for us, he visited a lot of those places. So you take a lot of that into account, risk versus reward. Didn’t want to get greedy. Hey, this is a player we like, we covet, don’t get cute. Let’s just take him, and then we’ll move on to day two of the Draft.

Q. When the receivers started, they were done for a long time, and then bang, bang, bang. How much did that affect this pick here?

JOE SCHOEN: You mean that the receivers started to go?

Q. Like four in a row.

JOE SCHOEN: That was part of it. There’s some receivers that were going off the board and some corners, typically there’s a lot of corners that go, and once Gonzalez went, we were wondering what was going to happen next and Forbes went. Getting Banks is a guy that we liked, we spent a lot of time with and we’re ecstatic to get him.

Q. You talk a lot about the traditional value stuff and knowing premium spots. Were you locked into a couple different positions in that spot? Obviously wide receiver and corner. How important was that for you knowing in that spot that you wanted to take a premium pick rather than lean towards a perceived need in another area?

JOE SCHOEN: In an ideal world, that’s how that works out. You know, on the open market these players are getting at their position, and some of the positions continue to ascend up, and some have went the other way. But corner is one that’s going to continue to ascend. You take that into account.

But when you’re picking at 25, we had multiple, multiple positions and it may not be a popular first round position but best player available we were prepared in different situations, scenarios that we went through that we would take one of those players.

Q. You said you met with him at the Combine; what do you remember about the meeting?

JOE SCHOEN: Just personality. He’s a personable individual. Football intellect was good. Very good understanding of their defense. You know, made a good first impression at the Combine, and I’ll give our scouts the credit, you know he was hurt in 2021 and one of our guys was in there in August, and he wasn’t really on our radar because he didn’t play a lot in 2021 and so our scouts were on him early.

So he is somebody that we were able to get out and see and we had several looks throughout the fall, live looks, whether it was at the school, games or at practice. So you know, we had very good coverage on him.

Q. How much last year as the whole season went on did you get a sense that you — cornerback, you had some guys hurt, Adoree’ (Jackson) got hurt a little bit; that that was a position that you had to manufacture things there?

BRIAN DABOLL: You can never have enough good corners. This is a passing league. We have a tough division and Te, he’s a tall, lengthy, press, man-to-man corner who we had graded high, and happy we have him.

Q. Joe, you were talking about how the variables were a lot different than last year and you knew a handful of guys. Was this, like, something you expected he’d be there? Were you surprised? Did you think about moving up sooner when you saw him maybe falling further than your projection?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, we had a group of players that ended up being in the same range. Again, all the mocks, if it’s a player you covet, you naturally think everybody else may, too. So a lot of mock drafts guys are gone and we went through different scenarios, and it played out pretty darn close to some of the scenarios that we went through. We weren’t sure he’d be there, and we also were surprised maybe a couple other place were still available as the Draft went on. Yeah, you try to go through as many of those scenarios as you can, and you know, you make the phone calls with the other general managers throughout the league and you have good dialogue and conversations, where if you get on the clock and there’s an opportunity. Again, I had talked to Trent Baalke down in Jacksonville earlier today and said, ‘hey, I don’t know if there may be a scenario where I’m worried about somebody coming behind us to this position, would you be open to it, these would be the parameters,’ and we stayed in communication throughout the Draft.

Q. Is this guy a cover corner or is he a press guy or what?

BRIAN DABOLL: Yeah, he’s played a lot of press man-to-man. Again, we play a variety of defenses with our system but he’s played a heavy amount of man-to-man coverage and press and he’s strong. He’s got good length. He’s got good quickness, good speed. And now we’ll just throw him in the mix with our guys and good to have him.

Q. The knock that people seem to have on him was the lack of interceptions. What do you guys make of that, if anything?

BRIAN DABOLL: Look, he was around the ball quite a bit. There was a lot of pass breakups. He can match receivers. Again, it’s new for all these young guys coming in, but I think he’s a good player. I’m glad we got him.

Q. Do you think he’s ready to come in and be a year one starter?

BRIAN DABOLL: We got a lot of work to do, so you know, with us, everybody has got to earn their role. Come in, throw him in the mix. Again we think he’s a good player. Obviously we drafted him in the first round, but everybody here has to earn their role and come in there and compete.

Q. Not too long ago in this league it was the idea of rookie corners weren’t able to come in and make that impact unless they were really that elite guy. Did what happened last year in the league with guys coming in like Sauce (Jets CB Sauce Gardner) and some other guys change maybe the way you think corners can transition maybe a little quicker than they have in the past?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, that’s one of the hardest positions in football. You’re moving backwards, away from the ball, trying to cover elite athlete. So it’s one of the most difficult positions, I think, in the NFL.

Like Dab said, everybody is going to come and compete. Nobody is going to be given anything. So he’s going to have to come in and earn his stripes and he’s got a lot to learn in terms of scheme and our defense. So looking forward to getting here and get to go work.

Q. Does trading the picks make you less likely, or your want to of maybe trading up in, like the second or third round, because now you do have a little less draft capital?

JOE SCHOEN: No. I’d still go up. No, it’s not going to effect. We’ll still move. We still have, like, our premium, second, third, fourth. We are in good shape from that standpoint if we want to move around.

Media Q&A with Deonte Banks:

Q. Can you describe what your interactions were like with the Giants leading up to the Draft, when you met with them and what those meetings were like?

DEONTE BANKS: I met with them a bunch of times. They took me out to dinner when I went out for a visit. I met with all the coaches when I was there and I also met with the db coach (Jerome Henderson) a week after that, he came to me, and we went out to eat. We also met in the meeting room.

Q. What’s your confidence level that you can come in and not only be a Week 1 starter, but do something special, maybe like Sauce Gardner did last year?

DEONTE BANKS: It’s really high. I’m just ready to get to work.

Q. What did you think of the Giants coaching staff, the new guys you’ll be working with when you had those dinners?

DEONTE BANKS: I like them. They cool. They have a unique kind of character. I loved them. It was a great meeting.

Q. How did they pitch you on your fit for the Giants?

DEONTE BANKS: When I came out here, it felt like it was my home. I felt like that. Everybody was cool. It just felt like my home. It felt like family.

Q. When you’re watching all the wide receivers go before you, did you think the Giants were going to be the team, baud they had had some interest in wide receivers, too. Did you think it was a good chance it was going to be the Giants?

DEONTE BANKS: I already knew if I made it to 25, it was going to be the Giants. I already knew.

Q. How likely did you think you were going to go before 25 entering today?

DEONTE BANKS: I wasn’t high on it, but I had a chance to.

Q. How would you describe your game and who are some of the guys that you modelled your game after through the years?

DEONTE BANKS: I like Jalen Ramsey and Marshon Lattimore. I love how they play.

Q. And how would you describe your game and what you bring to the table?

DEONTE BANKS: It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be real fun.

Q. Where are you now and who is with you?

DEONTE BANKS: I’m in Baltimore. I’m in a suite with my family.

Q. How familiar are you with Wink Martindale’s defense?

DEONTE BANKS: I’m very familiar, actually. They talk to me when I was down there for the meeting, so I kind of got a feel for that, and I like it. I love it, actually.

Q. Being from Baltimore, did you watch a lot of the Ravens when Wink was the DC down there?

DEONTE BANKS: Yes, I did.

Q. Did you ever meet Wink while you were at Maryland?

DEONTE BANKS: No, sir.

Q. What do you think of the cornerback room now with Adoree’ (Jackson) and what you can do?

DEONTE BANKS: It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be tough but we’re going to compete.

Q. Do you think your battles last year when you went up against Ohio State against (Marvin) Harrison (Jr.), it seemed like that opened some eyes for people with you coming back from your injury?

DEONTE BANKS: I think it opened a lot. I played really well against it.

Q. What does today mean for you to get drafted, or tonight, I should say?

DEONTE BANKS: I couldn’t even tell you. Like, I don’t know, it means so much to me. I couldn’t even tell you how much it means to me. That’s how much it means to me. I can’t even express how good this feels.

Q. The Giants general manager mentioned that you had that year with injuries, so you weren’t necessarily high on the radar at that point.

DEONTE BANKS: Right.

Q. How much do you feel like this year, you had a lot to prove to the NFL and to prove to these teams that, you know, you were that top prospect?

DEONTE BANKS: I played against Ohio State. It was a good game to watch from a scouting perspective, and it was a real good year for me personally. I played well and I just got hurt. The injury, it shouldn’t be any problem, you know what I’m saying.

Apr 272023
 

New York Giants 2023 NFL Draft Review

Round Pick in Round Overall Selection Player Selected Video
1 24 24 CB Deonte Banks (Video)
2 26 57 OC John Michael Schmitz (Video)
3 10 73 WR Jalin Hyatt (Video)
5 37 172 RB Eric Gray (Video)
6 32 209 CB Tre Hawkins III (Video)
7 26 243 DL Jordon Riley (Video)
7 37 254 S Gervarrius Owens (Video)

2023 Draft Pick Scouting Reports

1st Round – CB Deonte Banks, 6’0”, 197lbs, 4.35, University of Maryland

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Senior entry. Three-year starter but two of those years summed to just five starts combined because of Covid-19 and a shoulder injury that kept him out of all but two games. Honorable Mention All-Big Ten in 2022. Banks is a bit of an unknown when because of the lack of experience over that two-year span. That said, he did start as a true freshman in 2019 and looked fantastic in 2022. The movement traits are nearly off the charts and his aggressive play style will be attractive to defensive schemes that want to use a lot of man coverage. His rapid-fire footwork allows him to stay stick 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 tape, 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.

Joe Schoen’s Take: “You guys know Wink’s defense and what he likes, and Deonte fits that mold “to a T”. He was ecstatic… He’s a prototype from a size standpoint. He’s athletic. He’s physical. He can run. He ran 4.32 at the Combine. He has arm length, big hands. He’s been a four-year starter. He was hurt a year ago but he has played a lot of ball there at Maryland and schematically, he’s a good fit. And we spent a lot of time with him. Met with him at the Combine. He’s a guy that, you know, we went down to the pro day, and we spent a good amount of time with him, and again we felt comfortable with him… Getting Banks is a guy that we liked, we spent a lot of time with and we’re ecstatic to get him… He’s a personable individual. Football intellect was good (at the Combine). Very good understanding of their defense. You know, made a good first impression at the Combine, and I’ll give our scouts the credit, you know he was hurt in 2021 and one of our guys was in there in August, and he wasn’t really on our radar because he didn’t play a lot in 2021 and so our scouts were on him early. So he is somebody that we were able to get out and see and we had several looks throughout the fall, live looks, whether it was at the school, games or at practice. So you know, we had very good coverage on him.”

Brian Daboll’s Take: “You can never have enough good corners. This is a passing league. We have a tough division and Te, he’s a tall, lengthy, press, man-to-man corner who we had graded high, and happy we have him… He’s played a lot of press man-to-man. Again, we play a variety of defenses with our system but he’s played a heavy amount of man-to-man coverage and press and he’s strong. He’s got good length. He’s got good quickness, good speed. And now we’ll just throw him in the mix with our guys and good to have him.”

Media Q&A with Deonte Banks: (Full Transcript)


2nd Round – OC John Michael Schmitz, 6’4”, 301lbs, 5.35, University of Minnesota

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: 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. He 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 Schmitz. 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 likely 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.

Joe Schoen’s Take: “Schmitz is a great guy… smart, tough, dependable, played a lot of ball. Had a great Senior Bowl. He’s a good player and a great kid.”

Brian Daboll’s Take: “This guy’s tough. He’s smart. He’s got a good frame. Former wrestler. Good leader. We’ll throw him in the mix, let him compete it out with the other guys and see how it ends up.”

Media Q&A with John Michael Schmitz: (Full Transcript)


3rd Round – WR Jalin Hyatt, 6’0”, 176lbs, 4.4, University of Tennessee

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: 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.

Joe Schoen’s Take: “He ran 4-3 and some change, and you could feel his speed on film. That’s legit. Just a player we liked, and we spent some time with, and we thought the value was good for what we had to give up to go get him… He can roll. I was at that Alabama game… You could really feel his speed. It’s legit 4-3.”

Brian Daboll’s Take: “I think he’s a good player. I think he runs some of the routes that we run here. You can see, a little bit like Gabe, how it might translate. But again, everything is new for him. He’s a young guy. We’ll throw him in the mix with the other receivers and let those guys compete it out. A good visit here. Definitely has some qualities that you like when you’re watching him. Good young man. So, happy we have him.”

Media Q&A with Jalin Hyatt: (Full Transcript)


5th Round – Eric Gray, 5’10”, 207lbs, 4.55, University of Oklahoma

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: 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.

Joe Schoen’s Take: “Eric Gray is a guy we liked. He was at the Senior Bowl. Played at Oklahoma and transferred from Tennessee. Super productive. Really good hands out of the backfield. Also has some elusiveness to him inside. Like what he brings. He also has done some returns in his past; he did some at Tennessee, comfortable catching punts at Senior Bowl. So again, he’ll come in and compete with our group. ”

Media Q&A with Eric Gray: (Full Transcript)


6th Round – CB Tre Hawkins III, 6’2”, 188lbs, 4.4, Old Dominion University

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: 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. Priority free agent.

Joe Schoen’s Take: “Tre Hawkins, we took him late in the sixth. From Old Dominion corner, height, weight, and speed prospect that has high upside. He’s a physical kid, not afraid to tackle. You see a trend with some of these guys that we took at that position. Good developmental prospect for Wink’s defense and projects well to special teams due to his physical traits and toughness.”


7th Round – DL Jordon Riley, 6’5”, 338lbs, 5.31, University of Oregon

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: Sixth-year senior from New Bern, NC. One-year starter who 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 who 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 who is older than the average prospect and will not offer a lot of versatility. FA/Camp Body

Joe Schoen’s Take: ” Jordon Riley, again, big body guy. It’s hard to find these guys. When you get into the 7th round, you are looking for guys that maybe it will be hard to get at different areas. And another guy we spent time with, big run stopper in there, 6’5, 330. He’ll compete for a depth role there… He’s at Oregon. You walk out to practice and there’s this 6-5, 330-pound guy, who piques your interest right there. Again, some of these guys in different schemes may not have the production, the tackles, the sacks. But for what Wink looks for in terms of size, length, knock back, he possesses those traits.”


7th Round – S Gervarrius Owens, 6’0”, 195lbs, 4.57, University of Houston

Sy’56’s Scouting Report: 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.

*Similar to a player discussed above, Owens passes the initial test but once you watch a lot of his tape, it is easy to tell there is a lot of guessing in his game. If he can truly process the information and play at his highest rate of speed, he can be a player. Watch out for guys like this coming from a program that does not exactly invest in defensive resources. First exposure to high quality coaching could turn a light on. Owens has that kind of untapped upside. I like him a lot as a day three prospect.

Joe Schoen’s Take: “Gervarrius Owens, another guy we like, a tall, long, athletic safety from the University of Houston, was out at the East-West Game. Another physical kid. Projects well to special teams and also compete for a depth role.”


Rookie Free Agent Scouting Reports

QB Tommy DeVito, 6’2”, 210lbs, 4.64, University of Illinois (Video)
Transfer from Syracuse, where he was benched. DeVito lacks height, but he is a physically tough quarterback. However, pressure can bother him and he needs to play with more consistency.

WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton, 6’3”, 224lbs, 4.38, West Virginia University (Video)
Wheaton combines excellent size, speed, and overall athletic ability. He can can high-point a ball and win contested catches. However, he is a poor route runner and should be more productive than he has been. Inconsistent hands.

TE/FB Ryan Jones, 6’3”, 247lbs, 4.78, East Carolina University
Jones caught 41 passes for 413 yards and five touchdowns in his final collegiate season.

OLB Habakkuk Baldonado, 6’5”, 260lbs, 4.78, University of Pittsburgh (Video)
Baldonado was born in Rome, Italy. He played defensive end in a 4-3 defense in college, but projects to edge in Wink Martindale’s defense. His best season was in 2021, when he had 9.5 sacks. Baldonado has good size and strength and he plays hard. However, he lacks ideal quickness as a pass rusher.

ILB Dyontae Johnson, 6’2’’, 230lbs, 4.76, University of Toledo
Johnson had 109 tackles, eight tackles for losses, three pass defenses, three sacks, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries in his final collegiate season. He is productive and instinctive, but lacks ideal size and speed.

ILB Troy Brown, 6’1”, 220, 4.69, University of Mississippi
Brown lacks ideal size and and strength, but he diagnoses well and has proven to be productive (93 tackles in his final collegiate season).

CB Gemon Green, 6’2”, 186lbs, 4.52, University of Michigan (Video)
Green lacks ideal speed for the position, but he has experience in multiple coverages, including man. Green does not make many plays on the football. He plays a physical game but needs to be more consistent in run support.

S Alex Cook, 6’1’’, 196lbs, 4.68, University of Washington
Cook has average size and lacks ideal speed. He is an aggressive player who is better against the run. He does not make many plays on the football in the passing game. Team captain.

LS Cameron Lyons, 6’0’’, 225lbs, 5.00, University of North Carolina-Charlotte