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Cover 4

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Cover 4: Biggest takeaway from draft weekend


The crew breaks down the seven-man draft class and the biggest takeaways from the weekend:

John Schmeelk: Teams have limited control over how successful their drafts can be. They can select the best player available when their turn comes, but what position that player plays is not something a team can impact. But teams can do one thing: trade up. General manager Joe Schoen did take matters into his own hands in two rounds this year by trading up twice in the draft to get the player the Giants coveted.

But fortune also favored the Giants. In each round, there was a player left on the board that not only fit a need, but was also excellent value. Schoen's trades sealed the deal, and the Giants walked away with four players in their first four selections that filled needs and were of tremendous value.

We also get calls from Giants fans on Big Blue Kickoff Live throughout the offseason that presented us with mock drafts from various draft simulators. Often times in those simulations, fans came up with players for the Giants that make me roll my eyes as they seem completely unrealistic. If a fan called in and told me the Giants would have been able to draft Deonte Banks, John Michael Schmitz and Jalin Hyatt in the first three rounds, my eyes would have rolled so far back in my head I would have fallen out of my chair.

I would have been wrong.

What I would have considered a fantasy just a week ago turned into reality for the Giants this weekend. They acquired a big, fast cornerback in Deonte Banks that fits Wink Martindale's scheme perfectly and is used to playing press coverage at Maryland. John Michael Schmitz is a six-year center from Minnesota that shows steady tape and potential NFL starter on Day 1. Jalin Hyatt might be the best deep threat in the entire draft that will make opposing safeties pay attention to him and leave open the middle of the field for players like Darren Waller to thrive.

The weekend could not have gone better. Now it is time to see these players on the field and determine if they can deliver on all their talent for the New York Giants in the National Football League. I can't wait.

Dan Salomone: A wink wasn't enough. Don Martindale had to hug Joe Schoen. The general manager broke in the new draft room on Thursday night by trading up one spot with the Jaguars to select Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks with the 24th overall pick. Martindale, a grizzled defensive coordinator known for his cutoffs, responded by going in for a full bear hug with the fully-suited Schoen.

"You guys know Wink's defense and what he likes, and Deonte fits that mold to a T," Schoen said. "He was ecstatic."

It was the payoff to something Schoen said early in the draft process. While he had previous experience with Brian Daboll in Buffalo, neither of them had worked with Martindale. But after going through a full season together – and a successful one at that – Schoen said he has a higher comfort level with what Martindale is looking for and how he utilizes players on first, second, and third downs.

Much is made about the offense – rightfully so given the head coach and new contract for Daniel Jones – but the defense should only improve in Year 2 for a variety of reasons. One of which is getting Martindale the right ingredients as four of the seven picks were physical defenders who are not afraid to tackle.

"You see a trend with some of these guys that we took," Schoen said.

Step into the new draft room as the Giants make their picks for the 2023 class.

Lance Medow: If you would have told the Giants they'd walk away with three players that most projected to go in the first two rounds of the draft, something tells me Joe Schoen and company would gladly sign up for that. It took a pair of trades to accomplish that feat, but New York ultimately added three players that matched up well in the need/value territory. It's more than fair to say most considered Maryland corner Deonte Banks, Minnesota center John Michael Schmitz and Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt to be one of the top five players at their respective positions and they were all tested on the collegiate level as they're products of Power 5 programs. It would have been hard to believe that had the Giants made their original 10 picks, all of them would have made the roster. So to use some of those resources to move up and go after a pair of players you really like makes too much sense.

Banks is an ideal fit for Wink Martindale's scheme given his experience as a press-man corner with length and won't need time to adjust being thrown out on an island when Wink dials up the blitz because that's what he was asked to do in college. He's coming off his most impressive season with the Terrapins and proved he can bounce back nicely after missing the bulk of 2021 due to a shoulder injury. You can never have enough of any position in the NFL, but let's also not overlook the fact that Aaron Robinson, Cor'Dale Flott and Rodarius Williams have all battled injuries during their young careers. Banks add more youth to a position that will continue to take shape in 2023. With Jon Feliciano and Nick Gates leaving in free agency, there was clearly room to add a young center to the mix and Jalin Hyatt provides another vertical threat in the receiving corps, who can help the team increase its volume of explosive plays. Case in point, last season, he led the FBS in 30+ yard receptions with 38.

As far as the rest of the group goes, fifth-round pick Eric Gray out of Oklahoma adds another running back to the depth chart, who also has the potential to contribute on special teams as well as the passing attack given his 99 career receptions. Sixth round corner Tre Hawkins out of Old Dominion along with Oregon defensive tackle Jordon Riley and Houston safety Gervarrius Owens, who were selected in the seventh round, will have the opportunity to compete for roster spots and carve out roles on the depth chart. Those three players moved around during their collegiate careers, but Hawkins set the single-season record for tackles by a corner at Old Dominion, Riley established himself as a run stopper and Owens made his presence felt on defense in a free safety role and on special teams. Late-round picks are all about projection.

Matt Citak: It's rare to emerge from draft weekend with three players taken in the first three rounds that could realistically be Day 1 starters. Yet Joe Schoen accomplished just that, while also landing depth at several positions. But let's focus on the first three selections, all of which addressed areas of the roster that needed some attention.

Not only did the Giants draft a player at a position of need in the first round, but they also secured a guy that fits perfectly into what Wink Martindale wants to do on defense. Banks has some size, coming in at 6-foot, 197-pounds, to go with outstanding speed (4.35 40-yard dash). More importantly, he's a skilled press corner who is going to get physical with opposing wide receivers at the line of scrimmage.

Schoen then got cooking on Friday with his selections of John Michael Schmitz and Jalin Hyatt. Schmitz was widely considered the top center prospect in the draft and will compete for the starting role on Day 1. Hyatt's fall to the third round was one of the bigger surprises of the weekend, as many NFL analysts had the 2022 Biletnikoff Award winner ranked as a borderline first-round pick. The former Tennessee Volunteer brings elite speed to the offense with the capability of taking the top off of opposing defenses. He averaged a whopping 18.9 yards per reception last season while boasting a 156.5 passer rating when targeted. While the draft can't truly be judged until regular season games begin (at the earliest), it would be difficult to classify Schoen's second draft as anything short of a success.

View photos of the Giants' draft picks touring the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.


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