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Fact or Fiction: Potential impact of Malik Nabers in Year 1


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

Malik Nabers will be the most targeted Giants player in his rookie season.

John Schmeelk: Fact – To be honest, I don't even think it is going to be particularly close. The Giants picked Malik Nabers other offensive weapons still on the board, including Rome Odunze and Brock Bowers. There was something about Nabers that stood out to them, and I have no doubt that Brian Daboll, Mike Kafka, and Shea Tierney are already figuring out ways to get him the ball. As a player that does not only win down the field but can also turn short passes into big gains, it will be easier to scheme up touches early in the season even as he is still learning the offense. I expect him to get the ball in a variety of ways early and often.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Wide receiver has become an instant-impact position, and you don't draft a player No. 6 overall to ease him in slowly. With that said, Wan'Dale Robinson should give him a good race.

Matt Citak: Fact – This will be close as a fully healthy Wan'Dale Robinson should push for the team lead in targets, but I'm giving the edge to the No. 6 pick. The former LSU wideout finished last season with the most plays of 10+ yards, 20+ yards, and 30+ yards in the nation. With Saquon Barkley now in Philadelphia, the Giants' offense needs someone to step up as the unit's top playmaker. Nabers will do this, and he will do this pretty quickly. Getting the ball in the rookie receiver's hands will be one of the top priorities for the offense this season.

More than two rookies will be Week 1 starters.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – In Week 1, I think there will be two: Nabers and safety Tyler Nubin. By midseason, I think there will be a third: cornerback Dru Phillips. Slot cornerback is one of the toughest positions to play in the National Football League, and it might take some time for him to have all the aspects of his responsibilities straightened out. With his work ethic and intelligence, I would expect him to find his way into the starting lineup by the time the season is a couple months old, but it could be sooner. The dark horse here is tight end Theo Johnson, who could theoretically be out there for the first snap in Week 1 if Darren Waller retires and the team is in a passing posture.

Dan Salomone: Fact – The Giants had three last year: center John Michael Schmitz (second-round pick) and cornerbacks Deonte Banks (first) and Tre Hawkins III (sixth). While two seems like the floor this year, I could see a third turning heads like Hawkins did to earn a starting role. We'll see how it all plays out starting in a few weeks at OTAs.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Nabers and Tyler Nubin have the easiest paths towards being a Week 1 starter. Dru Phillips will compete in training camp to be the team's starting slot cornerback, while Theo Johnson's playing time as a rookie could depend on Darren Waller's decision. While I fully expect more than two rookies to start multiple games this season, it might be tough for anyone other than Nabers and Nubin to win their respective starting jobs right out of the gate.

The Giants entered Phase 2 of the offseason workout program at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

The most intriguing Day 3 pick is running back Tyrone Tracy Jr.

John Schmeelk: Fact – He is very raw as a running back, having played college wide receiver before moving full-time to running back in his sixth season. At Purdue, he ran with effort and power. He showed excellent contact balance to break tackles and gain extra yards that the play didn't necessarily dictate. He has a lot to learn, but the tools are there for him to be a serious player. He could also help the team right away as a kick returner, where he had success in college and has the right traits to fill the position at the NFL level.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – Tight end Theo Johnson, the team's fourth-round pick out of Penn State, has the traits to be a factor in the passing game regardless of Darren Waller's status. Of course, if the veteran does not return, Johnson will have a greater opportunity.

Matt Citak: Fact – While I usually try not to get too excited about Day 3 picks, there is just so much to like about Tracy. Despite entering the NFL as a 24-year-old rookie, the converted wide receiver registered only 146 rush attempts across his six seasons between Purdue and Iowa. In his one year primarily playing running back, Tracy looked downright impressive. His 2023 average of 6.3 yards per carry led the Big Ten and ranked as the second-highest average in Purdue history. He recorded the highest explosive run rate (23.1 percent) of any running back in this year's draft while ranking in the 97th percentile among all prospects since 2018. Tracy also ranked fourth in the country in yards after contact per rush while forcing 46 missed tackles on just 113 carries last year. If it weren't for his relative inexperience at the position, Tracy likely would have heard his name called a lot sooner.

Malik Nabers will have more touchdowns than Brian Burns has sacks this season.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – I will be the conductor of the Malik Nabers hype train for most of this offseason, but here is where I am going to pump the breaks a little bit. My answer, however, has nothing to do with Malik Nabers. It has everything to do with Brian Burns, who has a great chance of getting double-digit sacks this season. He will have a chance to rush the passer from wide formations in Shane Bowen's system. Assuming a double-digit touchdown year for Nabers as a rookie might be a bridge too far.

Dan Salomone: Fact – The truth is the Giants need a lot of both, and that's why they put major resources into them.

Matt Citak: Fiction – This has less to do with Nabers and more to do with Burns. While I expect the young wide receiver to have a strong rookie campaign, I believe Burns is going to flourish with the Giants. With fellow pass rushers Dexter Lawrence and Kayvon Thibodeaux lining up next to him, Burns is likely going to have more one-on-one situations than he's ever seen before. I expect Burns to reach the double-digit sack mark, and while Nabers could hit that number as well, Odell Beckham Jr. is currently the only Giants rookie in the Super Bowl era to have at least 10 receiving touchdowns in his first season. Nabers should provide a significant boost to the offense, but Burns' pass rushing prowess could take the defense to another level this season.

View photos from the college careers of all six members of the New York Giants 2024 Draft Class.