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Fact or Fiction: Forecasting NFC East race


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

A rookie will lead the Giants in either receiving yards or interceptions this season.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – In Wink Martindale's man-heavy coverage scheme it is very difficult to get a lot of interceptions for cornerbacks (which is where the rookies will get the most playing time) since their backs are so often facing the quarterback when the pass is released. A much better bet is one of the team's

safeties leading the team in interceptions, and don't expect a rookie to get the majority of the snaps there. There is a much more realistic chance that Jalin Hyatt leads the Giants in receiving yards thanks to his big-play ability. He has been a consistent over-the-top threat throughout the summer, and has been getting more and more looks with the first team. But don't be sure he takes enough snaps away from Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins and Parris Campbell to lead the team in receiving yards.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Buy all the stock you can in the rookie duo of Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins III. It seemed like just an experimentation when the Giants rolled them out on the first team with Adoree' Jackson moved to the slot. But, as defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said this week, "Right now, those are our three best corners."

Lance Medow: Fiction – The strongest candidates to meet those labels are Jalin Hyatt, Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins because they will make the 53-man roster and receive plenty of opportunities on the field. Hyatt has a lot of competition at his position as well as tight end Darren Waller to contend with in the passing game. Assuming Daniel Jones will spread the wealth, it will be difficult for Hyatt to lead the team in receiving yards, especially if he'll be relying on the deep ball as a significant means of his production. Banks and Hawkins could very well start alongside Adoree Jackson, but let's lean toward a safety leading the team in interceptions such as Xavier McKinney, Jason Pinnock or Dane Belton, who finished tied for the team lead with Julian Love in 2022. Corners don't get a lot of interceptions in Wink Martindale's system because of the coverage. That's why a safety is a much better bet.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Jalin Hyatt has a chance to lead the Giants in receiving yards this season, while Deonte Banks or Tre Hawkins III could finish with the most interceptions on the team. However, those rookies will fall just short of those accomplishments. On the offensive side of the ball, Darren Waller has to be the favorite to lead the Giants in receiving yards. As for the team-lead in interceptions, that would likely require a longer discussion. However, go with Dane Belton, as the second-year safety has looked great during training camp and could be primed for a possible breakout campaign.

Four rookies will start at least nine games this season.

John Schmeelk: Fact – You should feel very confident that Deonte Banks, Tre Hawkins and John Michael Schmitz will all start at least nine games this year. So, much like in the first answer, return to Jalin Hyatt, who should earn his way on the field for nine starts by the end of the season as the Giants search for more explosive plays in

the offense and injuries naturally crop up from other players at the position.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – Remember, starts can be deceiving in the NFL because they depend on what packages they roll out on the first play of the game. If this was about four rookies seeing a significant number of snaps, it would be fact. Let's pump the brakes on the start totals for now. It's a long season.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Deonte Banks and John Michael Schmitz are locks as starters but after that it becomes much more difficult to project. Tre Hawkins has a good chance to be in the corner rotation and being on the field for the first play of the game nine times could be feasible, but we still need one more player to accomplish that feat and you may not see one. Jalin Hyatt will carve out a role but given the volume of receivers and tight ends, it doesn't mean he'll start more than half of the season. Eric Gray will likely be the main return man but that position doesn't count toward starters, so he and the other rookies seem unlikely to enter that territory. Three is doable but four is pushing it.

Matt Citak: Fact – If this question had been asked a month ago, the answer would have easily gone the other way. Deonte Banks and John Michael Schmitz figure to start at their respective positions from the start of the season, while Jalin Hyatt could fight for a starting spot sooner rather than later. But it's been the performance of Tre Hawkins III that has really opened eyes this summer. The sixth-round pick has played so well that the Giants are considering the idea of starting veteran Adoree' Jackson in the slot with the two rookie corners on the outside. Hawkins still has a ways to go, but so far he has done just about everything necessary in order to secure a spot in the starting lineup.

View the best photos of all the action at the Giants' 2023 training camp.