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Fact or Fiction: OTA predictions, players to watch


The crew is presented with four statements and must decide whether they are Fact or Fiction.

Cornerback Deonte Banks is the defensive player you'll watch most closely at OTAs

John Schmeelk: Fact – With no pads on and no meaningful work being done in the trenches, the focus will be on the perimeter and Deonte Banks. With limited contact allowed at the line of scrimmage, let's see how he plays off-coverage, which is something he did earlier in his Maryland career but not as much in 2022. And will watch his speed and how will he run against a much faster Giants wide receiver corps.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Wink Martindale didn't nearly break Joe Schoen's back just for fun the night of the first round. The defensive coordinator gave the general manager a great, big bear hug after the selection of Banks because it's important to have two good corners in his scheme. "I think the defense has taken a little bit more shape in terms of what he wants it to look like," Schoen said on the "Giants Huddle: Front Office Edition" podcast. "But Tae Banks was one of his favorite players in the draft, and when we were able to get him, he was obviously very excited. My back is still a little bit of sore from that bear hug he gave me."

Lance Medow: Fact – It's very important to note there's no contact allowed during OTAs so if you're going to pay attention to a player, it must be someone you can still learn a little about even though he can't be physical with an opponent. The corner position comes into play because you can still evaluate whether a player at that position has the speed to keep up with receivers, can handle change of direction and effectively track the ball. Also, Banks is this year's first-round pick and has high expectations, so he tops the list. One other player worth mentioning is linebacker Darrian Beavers, who missed all of last season due to a torn ACL. How will he bounce back from that injury?

Matt Citak: Fact – It's hard to garner much from OTAs as players are on the practice field without pads and live contact is not permitted. However, for the first time this off-season, teams are allowed to conduct 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, meaning we should see some great wide receiver vs. cornerback matchups. Banks has an opportunity to take the spot starting outside opposite Adoree' Jackson this season, but the rookie corner will have to earn it. OTAs will serve as his first chance to show the coaching staff what he can do on the field.

Wide receiver Jalin Hyatt is the offensive player you'll watch most closely at OTAs

John Schmeelk: Fact – Much like with Deonte Banks, the fun at OTA happens far away from the line of scrimmage. Jalin Hyatt is fast. We saw him in college. We saw him run his 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. We have not seen him run with other NFL players. How fast will he look against the Giants' defensive backs and how quickly he can become an upper-echelon NFL route-runner?

Dan Salomone: Fiction – Keep your eyes on the "0." Parris Campbell, the free-agent wide receiver addition from Indianapolis, was one of the first players to take advantage of the new jersey number rules and will sport No. 0 with his new team. But that's not the only reason to watch him. After some unlucky injuries plagued the first chapter of his NFL career, Campbell started to show his capabilities during a healthy 2022 campaign. Campbell was part of the off-season plan to upgrade the speed in all three phases of the roster.

Lance Medow: Fact – Much like my response to the previous statement, putting a wide receiver or a tight end under the microscope is the most sensible move given you can still gain valuable takeaways despite the lack of contact. Although Darren Waller fits the bill and he's new to the team, he's also a polished veteran and we've seen what he's capable of doing going back to his days with the Raiders. That's why you can go with Jalin Hyatt. The Giants moved up to get him in the third round, he showcases blazing speed and it will be interesting to see the latter up close and personal against the corner group.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Hyatt is certainly one of the players to keep an eye on during OTAs, but the most intriguing player on the offensive side of the ball has to be Darren Waller. The 6-foot-6 tight end was one of the team's big off-season additions, acquired in a trade with the Raiders. Waller is an athletic freak and should provide the offense with plenty of mismatches this year. OTAs will provide Waller and Daniel Jones a chance to continue building their chemistry, as it is the first time they will be on the field together participating in drills against the defense. As we saw last year, Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka enjoy playing two tight end sets. Waller's presence should provide the offense with a new dynamic, and it all starts next week at OTAs.

View photos of the Giants on the practice field as OTAs are about to begin.

Safety Xavier McKinney will have the most interceptions in OTAs

John Schmeelk: Fact – McKinney will be the team's stalwart at safety with Jason Pinnock and Dane Belton competing alongside of him. He is entering his fourth year, and while he has played well, a series of injuries has played a role in preventing him from making the type of game-changing plays a team wants from an elite safety. It should change this year and it starts in OTAs.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – Cornerback Adoree' Jackson returns for his third season with the Giants and seventh overall in the NFL. His veteran savvy shows up in the Spring while some new pieces on the other side of the ball get their feet wet.

Lance Medow: Fiction – The Giants only had six interceptions in 2022 with Julian Love and Dane Belton each leading the way with two. Love is no longer on the team, but Belton is still in the mix and a good candidate to be active during the session but let's go with Darnay Holmes, who was very noticeable during training camp last year as Wink Martindale was implementing his scheme. When you play in the slot, where there's a lot of activity, you never know when you can get your hands on a ball. It's also far more likely, in this defense, a player on the inside will have more opportunities for plays on the ball as opposed to outside corners, who are more focused on opposing receivers.

Matt Citak: Fact – Playing in all 17 games during the 2021 campaign, McKinney led the Giants with five interceptions. His 2022 campaign was derailed by a hand injury, but the safety still managed to register five passes defensed in just nine games. Going back to his college days at Alabama, McKinney was a bit of a ballhawk, recording five interceptions over his final two seasons. Adoree' Jackson and Deonte Banks are talented corners, but neither one has ever put up big interception numbers. Not only will McKinney have the most interceptions in OTAs, but it wouldn't be too surprising if he led the team during the regular season, as well.

Tight end Darren Waller will have the most touchdowns in OTAs

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Waller is a veteran and there's no reason to push him this early in the off-season. Instead, expect Daniel Bellinger to get a lot of reps as the lead tight end and he will lead the team in touchdowns this Spring.

Dan Salomone: Fact – The Giants were one of the best red zone offenses last season, ranking seventh in the NFL by scoring touchdowns on 63.3 percent of their trips inside the 20. Now, it should get even better with the addition of Darren Waller.

Lance Medow: Fact – At 6-6, Darren Waller is the ideal target in the red zone because of his combination of size, length and athleticism. If there's any player Daniel Jones would want to look for in that area, it's Waller. There are wide receivers on the roster, who are a bit more attractive thanks to their speed and could see several chances on deep balls, but Waller can do damage on intermediate routes as well as those in tight spaces, meaning he'll have a higher percentage to reach the end zone due to his versatility.

Matt Citak: Fiction – As mentioned above, this will be the first time Waller and Jones are taking part in drills against the defense together. It will likely take some time for them to really start meshing together. The same goes for the new wide receivers, such as Hyatt, Parris Campbell and Jamison Crowder. Meanwhile, we'll have to see if guys returning from injuries (i.e. Sterling Shepard, Wan'Dale Robinson and Collin Johnson) are even on the field during OTAs. Due to all of this, Darius Slayton will have the most touchdowns over the next few weeks. Slayton and Jones were part of the team's 2019 draft class, and the two have connected for 15 touchdowns over the past four seasons. Expect more during OTAs.


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