The Giants held their rookie minicamp over the weekend. Draft picks, undrafted rookies, and tryout players took the field Friday and Saturday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center and met with the media. To recap it all, the Giants.com crew shares the biggest takeaways from the start of the orientation process:
John Schmeelk: There is not a ton to see at rookie minicamp. There aren't extended drills where you see real competition between the draft picks. Players are thrown into the deep end of the pool with an unfamiliar playbook and asked to sink or swim.
So, what did I look for? I wanted to see if the physical traits I looked at on All-22 matched what I saw up close. It truly is different seeing players on tape versus seeing them in person. It provides a completely different perspective. I know what an NFL center, wide receiver, or cornerback looks like when they are standing in my vicinity. I know what good movement skills and speed looks like on an NFL practice field having been here since 2007.
As I walked off the field on Saturday afternoon, I felt good that all of the players that the Giants drafted matched what I thought they looked like on tape. Jalin Hyatt looks fast in person. Deonte Banks looks long. Eric Gray's feet are very quick. Once we get to OTAs and they begin competing against NFL veterans, we'll have a chance to learn more.
Dan Salomone: The biggest takeaway from rookie minicamp wasn't even about a rookie. Dexter Lawrence, who blossomed into one of the NFL's best defenders in his fourth season, signed a lucrative, four-year contract extension over the weekend.
"Through the whole process, I was like, 'I want to play here, I want to be a Giant,'" said Lawrence, who flew in on Friday to put pen to paper. "We have something going here, we're building something special, and you can see it from the outside and inside it's even more beautiful. I'm excited for what's going on. The whole process I was in communication like this is where I want to be, and we got it done."
Lawrence received a hero's welcome from general manager Joe Schoen and coach Brian Daboll on the field. At the same time, he indirectly provided a motivational tool for all the rookies in attendance. As Lawrence said, the contract gives him the "opportunity to change my kids' kids' lives" and you can bet everyone took notice.
"Happy he's back," Daboll said. "Good player for us, good leader, good person. Congratulations to Dexter, and happy for our organization, as well."
Get your first look at the newest Giants as they hit the practice field at rookie minicamp.
Lance Medow: It's always interesting to hear from the rookie class for the first time once they arrive at the facility. It's their first taste of a professional setting and the beginning of the acclimation process. Deonte Banks is a man of few words and leaves most of his statements for the playing field, which isn't a bad thing at all. He cuts right to the chase, and I think that attitude resembles his game. John Michael Schmitz and Eric Gary are both joining the Giants after absorbing and learning a great deal of info from former NFL players. Schmitz had been working with his agent Jeremiah Sirles and fellow offensive lineman Alex Boone, whom we recently spoke with on Big Blue Kickoff Live, going back to his prep work for the combine. The same can be said for Gray as former NFL running back DeMarco Murray was his position coach for each of the last two seasons at Oklahoma. Those two players are bringing a wealth of knowledge with them to New York from being around players that have been here and done that. That should aid in a smooth transition period.
Of all the players in this year's rookie class, it seems as if Jalin Hyatt is itching to get into a game the most. When you listen to him talk, his confidence is noticeable, and you need that when you're consistently challenged by versatile corners on a weekly basis as there are no layup lines in the NFL. The eventful journey to the league for Tre Hawkins, Jordon Riley and Gervarrius Owens has absolutely shaped those three players as they all started their careers in junior college and have a great perspective on not taking anything for granted. Hawkins and Owens also both understand the importance and value of contributing on special teams in order to solidify a roster spot.
Matt Citak: There was one thing that stood out to me seeing the rookies on the field for the first time: Eric Gray. The Giants selected the running back in the fifth round to bolster the team's depth and have a chance to carve out a role for himself in the offense. Gray is listed at 5-foot-10 and 210 pounds, and looks every bit of it. As soon as he stepped onto the practice field, it was hard not to notice the size of his legs. While Saquon Barkley has been referred to in the past as SaQuads, Gray could easily be SaQuads Jr.
More importantly, Gray's eagerness to learn jumped out. After receiving a rep during practice, the rookie was seen off on the side talking to coach Brian Daboll. Gray noted to the media after that the two were making sure he was getting used to Daboll's style of coaching and what he expects out of his running backs. Gray then went on to talk about how he plans on absorbing as much information as he can from Barkley while the two share the RB room this year. Finally, it's clear that the fifth-round pick does not lack confidence, as he believes his physical abilities that made him so successful in his final season at Oklahoma will translate well to the NFL.
"I think football is football in my opinion," Gray said. "I think you go out there, you work hard, you do what it takes on and off the field, and you let your body take over when you get out there."