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Cover 4: What to look for this year at OTAs


With OTAs kicking off, the crew discusses what to look for in these spring practices:

John Schmeelk: It will be interesting to see the different things the coaching staff has in mind this season. It is fairly obvious how the Giants will use their top three draft picks given their positions, but that's not the case for some of the veterans who were added in the off-season, especially on offense. The Giants went out of their way to add a lot of speed to the wide receiver and tight end rooms, but how will they utilize those players?

Darren Waller can line up anywhere from in-line to the outside "x" wide receiver spot. You can imagine he will find himself all over the field at different times. The other player to keep an eye on on is Parris Campbell. He has traditionally been a slot player in his career but he has the size and speed to line up outside. He has improved his route running since entering the league, and he could be a real versatile piece.

Finally, how will this influx of speed on offense impact how the Giants run their offense? Will there be more downfield throws into tighter windows for Daniel Jones? Will there be more downfield concepts that has Jones holding the ball longer? Schemes change from year to year so how will the Giants decide to change?

On defense, does Wink Martindale still use safeties as much as he did last year, or do we see more linebackers or cornerbacks on the field. Was the team's safety usage last year his preference, or was it something he did solely because the roster dictated it? Which cornerbacks will be used outside or in the slot, which could determine play time. It should be a fun.

Dan Salomone: Four years ago, Daniel Jones began Spring practices as the heir apparent to Eli Manning. After a few bumps and twists in the road, it has come to fruition. Jones will step on the practice field as the unquestioned face of the franchise after the Giants put their faith in him with a lucrative, long-term contract. It's his team now, and the Giants will go as he goes as they look to do the most difficult thing in professional football – sustain success.

Of course, no one can do it alone. The Giants helped him by upgrading the skill players and giving him a new center in John Michael Schmitz, the All-American selected in the second round. While contact is not allowed in the Spring, that duo will be one of the main things to watch. They'll set the tone for the rest of the team.

View photos of the Giants on the practice field as OTAs are about to begin.

Lance Medow: The Giants lost several players due to injury last season including a handful who were sidelined before the 2022 campaign even began. That's why, around this time of the year, you want to see how much progress some of those players have made and whether they are able to take part in some of this on-field work. Let's start with wide receiver Collin Johnson, who tore his Achilles in late August following a very productive training camp. Given the depth at this position, it's quite easy to overlook the Jaguars' 2020 fifth-round pick but he provides size (6-6) and experience.

In addition to Johnson, fellow receivers Sterling Shepard and Wan'Dale Robinson served as spectators after they were both injured during the season. Shepard tore his ACL in Week 3 while Robinson sustained the same injury in Week 11. You wouldn't expect to see much from the latter because of how late in the season he hurt his knee but he's still worth mentioning as someone to keep an eye on. On the defensive side of the ball, watch linebacker Darrian Beavers, who suffered a torn ACL in the second preseason game, and corner Aaron Robinson, who was limited to only two games due to having his appendix removed as well as a knee injury that ultimately placed him on season-ending injured reserve in early October.

Beavers is an intriguing player, who was in line to assume a significant role in the middle of Wink Martindale's scheme before he went down and Robinson was playing opposite Adoree Jackson. The statue of both players in terms of their rehab will be important to watch.

Matt Citak: There is only so much teams can do during OTAs. No live contact is permitted; however, teams can partake in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills for the first time during the off-season. With the offense and defense allowed to face off, the integration of the draft class is the think to look for the most.

Each of the team's first three selections have a chance to earn a spot in the starting lineup in 2023. Deonte Banks will join a group of players that includes Cor'Dale Flott, Aaron Robinson, Amani Oruwariye, Nick McCloud, among others, competing for the starting corner spot opposite Adoree' Jackson. As for second-round pick John Michael Schmitz, the offensive lineman out of Minnesota will be part of the group battling it out to start at center. Moving to Jalin Hyatt, the third-round pick is one of a deep group of wide receivers that will vie for playing time. None of these competitions will be settled during OTAs. In fact, it likely won't be until the regular season begins that we know for sure who will start at corner, center or wide receiver. However, OTAs serve as the first opportunity for the rookies to leave a good impression on the coaching staff, which includes the Day 3 picks competing to make the depth chart.

Of the top three picks, keep the closest eye on Hyatt. With numerous wide receivers (Shepard, Robinson and Johnson) still recovering from last year's serious injuries, Hyatt could see a lot of playing time during OTAs. Let's see what the 2022 Biletnikoff Award winner can do.


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