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2024 NFL Draft

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Giants drawn to Malik Nabers' toughness in pre-draft process


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants have had an affinity for wide receivers from the Southeastern Conference in recent years.

Ten years ago, they drafted Odell Beckham, Jr. out of LSU with the 12th overall selection. Their three most productive wideouts in 2023 – Wan'Dale Robinson, Darius Slayton and rookie Jalin Hyatt – were drafted from SEC schools since 2019. The Giants' first draft choice in 2021, the since-traded Kadarius Toney, was another alumnus from the conference.

On Thursday night, the Giants again reached in the SEC pool and acquired a receiver who might become the most consequential and prolific of their wideouts from college football's strongest conference.

With the sixth pick in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Giants selected Malik Nabers, another LSU product. Arguably the most explosive and electric player in the draft, Nabers set records at the same school that produced current NFL stars Justin Jefferson of Minnesota and Ja'Marr Chase of Cincinnati.

"I think he's a fantastic player," coach Brian Daboll said.

View the best photos from the collegiate career of wide receiver Malik Nabers.

What stood out during the Giants' long and detailed evaluation of Nabers?

"I think at that position, the toughness," general manager Joe Schoen said. "Some of the competitiveness, some of the best ones I've been around, they have that. It's going to be 20-some receivers taken between today and tomorrow and Saturday. What separates all the guys that are six-foot, that are 200 pounds and run a 4.45, there's a bunch of them out there. To me, it always goes back to grit, toughness, tenacity. You can't coach that. You can't teach that. I think this kid best illustrates it."

He'll get no argument from Nabers, who said the Giants are getting, "a great teammate, a great leader, a great person on the field and off the field."

Nabers, 6-feet and 200 pounds, won't turn 21 until training camp opens in late July. The Louisiana native played in 38 games with 30 starts in three seasons for LSU. He concluded his career as the school's all-time leader in receptions (189) and receiving yards (3,003) and is one of only two players in LSU history with more than 3,000 receiving yards, joining Josh Reed (3,001 yards from 1999-2001). Nabers ranks seventh in school history with 21 touchdown catches. He led the SEC in receptions in back-to-back years with 72 as a sophomore in 2022, followed by 89 in 2023.

In 2023, Nabers started all 13 games and was a unanimous All-America as he was a first-team selection by AP, Walter Camp, FWAA, AFCA and Sporting News. He was also chosen first-Team All-SEC by the AP and SEC Coaches. Nabers led the nation with 120.7 receiving yards a game and led the FBS in plays of 20-plus yards (34) and 30-plus yards (17). Nabers finished second nationally with 1,569 receiving yards, third with 14 touchdown catches, and tied for 11th with 89 receptions. He topped the SEC in receptions, receiving yards, and ranked second in touchdown catches.

"LSU, the amount of players they had, and our staff was able to see him play live several times," said Schoen. "I've seen him two years in a row. I happened to be at the first game of the year versus Florida State, two years in a row. He's been on our radar. He's a really good player. And we were at the pro day, we had him in on a 30 visit and went to dinner with him a couple different times. Getting around the kid, he's a great kid. He's super competitive. He's driven. And I'm excited about having him."

Daboll was an offensive assistant for several teams from 2002-21 and spent the first five of those seasons as the New England Patriots' wide receivers coach. He is excited to acquire a player of Nabers' caliber.

"He's a fun guy to evaluate," Daboll said. "He's got quickness, explosive, good run after the catch. He's got a good mindset in terms of the competitive style he plays with. Played well in big games.

"I love his personality. He's a very, very competitive young man. So, it was good to sit down and kind of introduce ourselves and get him to introduce himself to us. He came here – he's a competitive guy. And I'm looking forward to working with him."

The Giants have lacked a receiver that causes defensive coordinators and backs to lose sleep since Beckham departed before the 2019 season. They haven't had a 1,000-yard pass catcher since Beckham gained 1,052 yards in 2018. Last year, the Giants averaged 9.9 yards on their 338 completed passes, the fifth-lowest figure in the NFL.

Nabers averaged 15.9 yards a catch in his three seasons with the Tigers, including 18.0 yards in 2023.

"Get him in the program, get him with the receivers and into the offense, and really looking forward to working with him," Daboll said.

The Giants were rumored to be interested in quarterback Drake Maye, who was drafted third by the New England Patriots. Representatives of the two teams spoke, but they ultimately kept their picks.

"I said last week we were going to have conversations in front of us," Schoen said. "We actually had conversations behind us. There was an opportunity for us to move out of the pick. So, we had conversations. We had different plans in place. And we're glad to have Malik Nabers here. We're glad with the way it worked out."


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