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Fact or Fiction: Deonte Banks All-Rookie Team?


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

Jalin Hyatt will finish the season as the team leader in receiving yards.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Jalin Hyatt sits 105 yards behind Darius Slayton for the most receiving yards on the team, but he also trails Darren Waller by 54 yards. Waller is eligible to return from the injured list after the bye week and should immediately become the Giants' leader in targets once he is on the field. Hyatt will make big plays the rest of the year, which might vault him ahead of Darius Slayton in receiver rankings, but I think his target deficit will be too much to overcome.

Dan Salomone: Fact – After Hyatt eclipsed 100 yards for the first time last week, something he did routinely in college, the rookie shared some great insight about a conversation he had with Brian Daboll: "I went to Coach and asked, 'Was it me, is there something I need to do better or anything?' Hyatt shared. "And Dabs had a great talk with me one-on-one and just talked to me about how the league is, the NFL, and saying, 'One game you can have the best game of your life and the next game you can be humbled.' It just goes to Dabs and how much respect I have for him and him teaching me about the NFL and the league and how it was. It was just tough for me at first, just going from averaging a hundred yards to not really get 100 yards or 50 yards. So, it was tough to me, but I decided I had to stick it through, stick it through with my preparation and make sure I'm staying ready."

Lance Medow: Fiction – With five games to go, Jalin Hyatt is 105 yards back of Darius Slayton, but let's not overlook his first career 100-yard game in Sunday's win over the Patriots helped close the gap after collecting just 221 yards combined in his first 11 games. Based on those numbers, I'm not so sure the last game will become a trend, and if Darren Waller returns after the bye, he'll provide some additional competition. With Hyatt relying a lot on the deep ball, those numbers will fluctuate because there won't be an even number of targets and opportunities per game.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Hyatt is coming off his best game of the season, one earned him the Pro Football Focus Rookie of the Week Award. While it certainly was an encouraging performance, it was only one game. It's likely too early to say he will finish the year as the team leader in receiving yards, which is why I'm going with the current leader, Darius Slayton. Part of the reason Hyatt had as many opportunities as he did on Sunday was due to Slayton being banged up. The veteran played just 54 percent of the team's offensive snaps, one week after playing just 51 percent of the snaps. Prior to Week 11, a game that saw him depart early in the third quarter with an injury, Slayton had not played less than 79 percent of snaps since Week 1. Assuming he's healthy after the bye, Slayton will likely come back and retake his role as the team's leading receiver.

Tommy DeVito is the biggest story in New York sports right now.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Tommy DeVito is a great story, but I can't give him the nod over the Knicks, who are playing well at 9-7, and the Rangers who are tied for the NHL lead in points. It is early in both the basketball and hockey seasons, but both those teams should be in the playoffs with a real chance to win a round. The Knicks have two potential All-Stars, and the Rangers have some exciting young players. I have to tip my cap to them until DeVito puts together a longer streak.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Remember Linsanity? We're getting to DeVitomonium.

Lance Medow: Fact – He went from undrafted rookie to the starting quarterback of the NFL team in his own backyard, playing in the same stadium where he helped his high school, Don Bosco, win a state title in 2015. If that's not the biggest story in New York, it's at least the best. Tommy DeVito is making the most of his opportunity and the Big Apple always enjoys rooting for an underdog. Baseball season is over, it's still way too early in the NBA and NHL campaigns and the Jets are still searching for answers under center. I'd say based on the current sports landscape, Tommy tops the list.

Matt Citak: Fact – DeVito's takeover of New York sports the last few weeks has been remarkable to watch. From an undrafted rookie free agent to starting quarterback, DeVito has become a hometown hero after leading the Giants to back-to-back wins the last two weeks. Not only that, but he's looked impressive in doing so. DeVito became just the fifth undrafted rookie in the common draft era to win two of his first three starts, a stretch in which he has six touchdowns with just one interception. He also became the first undrafted rookie in the common draft era to record a 100+ passer rating in consecutive starts. In a season that has not gone how the Giants would have hoped, DeVito has galvanized both the team and fans with his recent play.

Deonte Banks will make the PFWA All-Rookie Team.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Devon Witherspoon is going to be one cornerback on the All-Rookie Team, and Christian Gonzalez looked like an early favorite to be another until an injury derailed his rookie year. Joey Porter Jr. has played well for the Steelers and they have been matching him up against some top wide receivers. Since he is playing for a potential playoff team, I think he will get the nod over Deonte Banks. If Brian Branch is classified as a slot cornerback, he could also be in that conversation.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Banks' 10 passes defensed are tied for 10th in the NFL with names like Denzel Ward, Stephon Gilmore and Patrick Peterson. That's good company for a rookie.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Keep in mind, only two corners make the team and I think Devon Witherspoon of the Seahawks is a lock. Just look at what he did against the Giants at MetLife Stadium in Week 4 with a 97-yard pick six to go along with seven tackles, two sacks, two tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. That leaves one more spot open and it's probably going to come down to Banks and the Steelers' Joey Porter Jr., who has played very well as of late and is part of one of the best defenses in the league. While it's an individual honor and has no bearing on how the entire unit performs, let's not be naïve and act as if that doesn't carry some additional weight. That's why I'll give the edge to Porter Jr.

Matt Citak: Fact – It hasn't been perfect for him, but Banks has quietly put together a solid rookie season. Of course, he registered his second interception of the season against the Patriots, but his strong play went beyond the pick. Banks was targeted in coverage seven times against New England and allowed just three receptions for 29 yards. In addition to the interception, he also earned a passer rating allowed of just 15.5. While Seattle's Devon Witherspoon looks well on his way to earning one of the cornerback spots on the PFWA All-Rookie Team, Banks' biggest competition for the second spot appears to be Pittsburgh's Joey Porter Jr., as New England's Christian Gonzalez played just four games before suffering a season-ending injury. At the end of the day, Banks will get the nod.

Kayvon Thibodeaux is the Giants' best pass rusher since Jason Pierre-Paul.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – He is the Giants' best pass rusher since Dexter Lawrence. I don't care what the sack numbers say, Dexter Lawrence is in the backfield and impacting opposing quarterbacks. His constant interior pressure has wrecked games and made it almost impossible for opposing offenses to even function some weeks. Lawrence is a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate and is the Giants' best pass rusher since Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan.

Dan Salomone: Fact – With five games to play, Kayvon Thibodeaux is on pace for 15.5 sacks, a number that has been reached just six times previously in Giants history. Those names include Michael Strahan (twice), Lawrence Taylor (twice), Leonard Marshall and, most recently, Jason Pierre-Paul.

Lance Medow: Fiction – You can interpret this statement in several different ways. Are you only looking at homegrown talent through the draft? Do you take into consideration some big splashes or under the radar free agent additions? I'm going to consider the whole playing field. Jason Pierre-Paul last played for the Giants in 2017 so if you look at between 2018 and the present day, you'll see Olivier Vernon's production in 2018 and Markus Golden piling up ten sacks in 2019. Golden was a pleasant surprise that season and always seemed to be around the quarterback in position to record a disruptive play. Although he may not be an All-Pro or have a resume that jumps off the page, it's all about results and Golden's stat line that season supports the label of dangerous pass rusher and a player worthy of attention. Even if you want to overlook Golden, Vernon was a Pro Bowler in 2018 so it's more than fitting to put him in the same conversation as Kayvon.

Matt Citak: Fact – Thibodeaux now has 11 sacks on the season, and while Leonard Williams finished with 11.5 back in 2020, I'm going to assume the second-year outside linebacker picks up at least one more sack in the final five games. That would give him 12 sacks on the year, the highest figure since Pierre-Paul reached 12.5 in 2014. While Thibodeaux may be the franchise's best pure pass rusher since JPP, Dexter Lawrence deserves some recognition here as the most impressive Giants pass rusher. Even with missing Week 12, Lawrence is still among the league leaders in total pressures this season, despite primarily lining up at nose tackle. His pressure numbers as an interior defensive lineman are right up there with the top edge rushers in the NFL, and while his sack total is nowhere near Thibodeaux's (Lawrence has four on the season), the All-Pro lineman deserves some praise when discussing the team's top pass rushers.

View photos of the New York Giants' 2023 rookie class in action.


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