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Fact or Fiction: Top play from spring & more superlatives


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

Jalin Hyatt's one-handed touchdown catch was the best play of spring football.

John Schmeelk: Fact – The Hyatt one-handed grab is right there with Malik Nabers' two touchdown catches in the same practice at the end of the second week of OTAs, but I am going with the latter. Hyatt's individual feat of catching the football might have been better than either of Nabers' grabs, but I am going to place it behind him because the quality of the throws from Lock. We are talking about the better play, not the better catch. He put passes down the field right on Nabers, who had to make tough catches to come down with the ball inbounds. In particular, I liked the one where Lock hit Nabers while rolling to his left and had to turn his shoulders to throw the pass. He hit Nabers coming all the way across the field in the corner of the end zone. Nabers had to extend to make the play and get his feet down in traffic. It was a great play that happened right in front of me.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Hyatt became a household name with his high-flying plays in college, but making tough catches might be an underrated part of his game. Look at the big plays from his rookie season. Albeit a small sample size with some bumps along the way, there is a pretty high degree of difficulty on most of them. Just like the one he made this spring.

"I think he's made a ton of improvement this offseason," quarterback Daniel Jones said of Hyatt. "[He] was really dialed in on some of the smaller details of route running, understanding how defenders are trying to play him and how to gain leverage and gain separation. He's worked tremendously hard this offseason, and I think it's shown up on the field this spring. It's been really fun working with him. He's an extremely talented guy obviously, and he's only getting better."

Matt Citak: Fiction – Hyatt's one-handed snag was great, but the best play (or plays) of spring football had to be Malik Nabers' two incredible touchdown catches during OTA No. 9. The two receptions occurred within 10 feet from where I was standing on the sideline, and let me tell you, they were both a sight to behold. Nabers leaped up and made an acrobatic grab on two Drew Lock passes from 30+ yards out, getting both feet down inbounds. Nabers completely took over this particular practice in front of the media, showing why the Giants made him the highest-drafted wide receiver in franchise history.

Rookie wide receiver Malik Nabers was the most impressive player this spring.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – As fun as Nabers was to watch, I am going with Deonte Banks. Banks might have given up a catch or two, but he was always in the neighborhood and didn't let anyone run away from him on passes down the field. Banks is never someone to lack for confidence, but you can definitely see the seasoning of a second-year player paying dividends with how he is operating out there. There were multiple plays where he had no problem keeping pace with Hyatt on fly routes down the sideline. Brian Burns is a close second here just because of his overall professionalism and athleticism, but since there is no contact allowed in the spring, I will wait to rave about him until the pads come on in August. I can't wait to watch Banks line up regularly across from Malik Nabers.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Spring practices, where contact is not allowed, is the time for receivers and defensive backs to shine. The sixth overall pick certainly did that. Nabers brought over his trademark competitiveness to the Giants, both on the field and behind the scenes. The anticipation of seeing him in Week 1 will only continue to grow throughout the summer.

Matt Citak: Fact – In case you didn't pick up where I was going with my first answer, the rookie wide receiver impressed everyone this spring. The two big catches were obviously great, but it was the explosiveness he showed on a daily basis that really stood out to me. Nabers looks so smooth while running routes, making quick and easy cuts and changing direction on a dime. It is clear that Nabers is going to thrive on creating separation from defenders.

View the best photos as the Giants take the field for minicamp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Tight end is the top offensive competition to watch when the team returns for training camp.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – This is tough to argue against, but I'll try. I would be surprised if Daniel Bellinger is not the base offense tight end when camp opens. Asking Theo Johnson to step in and start right away as a fourth-round rookie coming from a college offense that didn't use him much in the passing game is asking a lot. I see Chris Manhertz and Jack Stoll competing for a blocking role, with Lawrence Cager as the initial move tight end. I'm more interested in how the running back depth chart develops behind Devin Singletary. Does Tyrone Tracy Jr. do enough to seize the passing down role or maybe even something bigger than that? Does Dante "Turbo" Miller's speed put him in the mix on special teams? Does Eric Gray's experience in his second year give him an upper hand? It's a fun group and I'm curious to see how the team builds the room out.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Nothing was set in stone obviously, but we got a pretty good idea how things are shaking out at every position other than tight end. Without Darren Waller, there were ample opportunities for other tight ends to step up. Naturally, all eyes were on fourth-round pick Theo Johnson, and it doesn't take a pro scout to see what the 6-foot-6, 264-pound rookie can do on the field. I'm sure coaches are eager to turn him loose in a live setting this preseason. "We'll look at it once this gets settled down and over the summer know exactly how many numbers we want," coach Brian Daboll said of the tight ends. "I feel good about our group."

Matt Citak: Fiction – Malik Nabers, Wan'Dale Robinson, Darius Slayton, and Jalin Hyatt will likely stand at the top of the wide receiver depth chart, but beyond that group, the competition heats up. I've spoken about this before, but there will be a battle during camp between veterans like Allen Robinson, Isaiah Hodgins, and Miles Boykin, among others. There are also young players such as Bryce Ford-Wheaton, Dennis Houston, John Jiles, and Ayir Asante. How many roster spots are used on receivers, and which of the wideouts make the final cut, should be a fun competition to watch once the pads come on.

Safety is the top defensive competition to watch when the team returns for training camp.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – It's close, but I will lean towards the nickel cornerback position. I think safety Tyler Nubin will force his way into significant snaps early in the season because of his professional approach, but then how does that impact the nickel cornerback spot? Do the Giants opt for more of a big nickel with three safeties, keeping both Nubin and Dane Belton on the field, or stick with a tradition nickel cornerback? Does Isaiah Simmons factor in as a big nickel? Can Dru Phillips play well enough to earn his way into the starting nickel spot? Does Nick McCloud stick there? There are options for the Giants to complete their puzzle there, which makes it a bit more interesting to me than the safety position.

Dan Salomone: Fact – The Giants have a good problem at safety. They drafted Tyler Nubin, Minnesota's all-time interceptions leader, in the second round, but the rookie will have to get through two playmakers in Jason Pinnock and Dane Belton.

Matt Citak: Fact – There are at least four players who could make a strong argument for receiving significant playing time this season. Jason Pinnock is coming off a 2023 campaign in which he played far and away the most defensive snaps of his young career. Dane Belton has a knack for coming up with the football, notching seven takeaways in limited snaps over his first two NFL seasons. Jalen Mills is a proven veteran who can be deployed all over the defensive backfield, while Tyler Nubin is a rookie second-round pick who enjoyed tremendous success at Minnesota. These four players, along with Gervarrius Owens and Elijah Riley, should provide us with a highly entertaining training camp competition later this summer.

View all of the top photos from the Quest Diagnostics Training Center as OTAs come to a close.