Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 05-01-2023

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he was one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls up until last year. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.

(The following essay and analysis is the most complete you'll find on the Giants' complete list of drafted players, compiled by our analyst Scott Landstrom. He comes away with the statement that this draft was a brilliant piece of work by general manager Joe Schoen, and that the overall draft may well be one of the most heralded in the history of the franchise. Read on and see if you agree.)

By Scott Landstrom
Well, Giants Nation, the annual NFL Draft has come and gone, and if the truth is told, I have yet to read a "Grading how teams did in the Draft" column that gives Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll (and of course, the entire Personnel and Scouting departments) anything less than an "A-", with several of them coming in at "A+."
In fact, on ESPN radio on the "Carlin and Canty Show," they stated that the two teams that improved the most in this draft were the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants.

Somewhere out there, former Giant GMs Jerry Reese and Dave Gettleman must have been slack-jawed in awe watching the expert way GM Joe Schoen parlayed draft assets into getting the exact players he wanted. It would be like two third graders playing "Chopsticks" on the piano, leaving the stage, and then having famous maestro Sergei Rachmaninoff assume the bench, and play classical pieces of such dazzling complexity, dynamic range and emotion to have people openly weeping in the audience.
Oh, and for those of you wondering how the annual E-GIANTS Draft wager worked out, I told you that last year Dave Klein set a new scoring record of 14 points in naming BOTH of the Giants' first round selections (Evan Neal, Kayvon Thibodeaux).

Well, this year saw some records broken yet again, as I became the first one to "hit" on all three of the top three draft choices out of my five chosen players: CB Deonte Banks (first round - 7 points), C, John-Michael Schmitz (second round - 5 points), and WR Jalin Hyatt (third round, 4 points). Add those up, and you will conclude we now have a NEW "scoring record" for our contest of 16 points.
Our "writers wager contest" aside, it is worth noting that Mel Kiper came out with his final "team grades" on the Draft, and only the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles earned better grades than the Giants "A-" draft rating metric.
New York went into this draft with glaring needs at cornerback opposite Adoree Jackson, center and deep-threat wide receiver. Schoen, it could be argued, got the best player at each of those three positions in the entire draft class, something that Gettleman or Reese could only dream about.
Without further ado, let's dive into the selections right now:

First round, 25th selection: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland: 6-0, 1/2, 197. When you have a defensive coordinator like Wink Martindale who loves to blitz as much as he does, it is vital that you have fast, physical defensive backs who can play bump-and-run "press" one-on-one coverage.
With his size, 4.35 speed in the 40-yard dash (third fastest among CBs at the Combine), and having broad jumped 11'4" (second best) and having been measured in the vertical jump at 42.0 inches (first), there is little doubt that Banks was the most impressive physical specimen playing cornerback in the nation.
One AFC scout said the following about Banks: "All you have to do, if you want to know how great this kid is, and can be in the NFL, is put on the Ohio State game tape, and watch him go against Marvin Harrison, Jr - the number-one rated receiver in the nation according to Pro Football Focus. Banks shadowed him all over the field and was more than up to the task."
Video taken of the Giants Draft Room showed Martindale giving out hugs like he just won the lottery, because Schoen just landed him the top "press" cornerback prospect in the nation.

Second round, 57th selection: John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota: 6-4, 307: Schmitz was the first-team AP All-American center and was both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay's top rated player at this position. To fill a clear area of need (since both Jon Feliciano and Nick Gates left the team as free agents, there was no true "center" on the roster) with the best player in the draft at this position with a selection in the mid-50's was just an absolute "coup" for New York.
John Michael played for one of the most physical run-offenses in the country at Minnesota, and was known for physically dominating his opponents, and playing "through the whistle" with a touch of nastiness added in. Schmitz was a distinguished wrestler in high school, so his knowledge in this area helped him exploit "leverage" and body-position with ease and effectiveness.
Scouting reports refer to him as a "powerful drive blocker with the athleticism to get to the second level effectively." Will be the starting center for the Giants from week one, in my estimation.
His head coach at Minnesota, P.J. Fleck, added: "Not only was he the best player on our team, but he was also the hardest worker in the entire building."

Third round, 73rd selection: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee: 6-0, 176: Similar to the comment about Banks, all you have to do to learn what Hyatt is capable of is put on the tape of him leading his Tennessee Volunteers to a 52-49 upset of the top- ranked Alabama Crimson Tide in mid-October.
All Hyatt did in that game was explode for FIVE touchdown receptions and 207 yards against one of the top secondaries in the nation. Was a first team AP All-American. Often, on tape, it seems that Hyatt is running at a different replay speed than other players around him, almost like one of those cartoon characters that possesses supernatural quickness.
Hyatt's 15 TD receptions was second in the FBS nation, and his 18.9 average per catch was also second among players with 1,000 yards or more receiving. A textbook "hand catcher," Hyatt snatches the ball out of the air, "high pointing" it when possible. A "track guy" in high school, Hyatt still holds the 100 meter and 200 meter records and is one of those few players who may still have another gear to go to after 40 yards.
He was sixth fastest of all receivers at the Combine and was actually disappointed with his 4.40 time. His 40.0 inch vertical jump was fourth among receivers, and his 11-3 broad jump led his position group - so the kid is all kinds of explosive.
If Schoen wanted to add a "vertical threat" to the Giants' receiver room - he achieved that by getting the most explosive receiver in the entire draft and doing it in the third round is just preposterously good (and lucky).

Fourth round: No selection - traded away to move up to select Jalin Hyatt.

Fifth round: 173rd selection, Eric Gray, RB, Oklahoma: 5-10", 207: Gray finished second in the Big-12 in rushing with 1,366 yards, and his 6.4 yards per carry was in the top-10 of FBS running backs with at least 1,000 yards. Not a "speed guy" (4.62 in the forty) but has a nimble "one-cut" style that once he plants his cut foot results in abrupt changes in direction and can make defenders miss. Runs well behind his pads, showing more power than his weight would imply.
Has "soft hands" and catches the ball well out of the backfield. Gray will not challenge Saquon Barkley for the starting role but will be a nice "change of pace" substitution to give Barkley a "breather" now and then.

Sixth round: 209th selection, Tre Hawkins III, CB, Old Dominion: 6-3, 195: While he did not play against "elite" competition at ODU, Hawkins is just a physical freak at his size. Ran 4.39 in the forty at his "pro day" (would have been eighth at the Combine among CBs), put up 17 reps on the bench press (better than all but one CB at the Combine) and ran a 6.74 second "three cone drill" (second best of those at the Combine).
To be this big, this fast, that strong, and to have the kind of agility that he showed in the three-cone is just absurd. For him to be 6-3 and still running sub-4.40 in the forty? I can't think of another cornerback in the NFL who combines that kind of size, arm length (33 inches), strength and speed. To add two ridiculous physical specimens like Banks and Hawkins to the cornerback room must have Martindale licking his chops awaiting summer practices.

Seventh round, 244th selection, Jordan Riley, DT, Oregon: 6-5, 338: Riley is simply a massive run-stuffer who started all 13 games for the Ducks in the Pac-10. While he has limited upside as a pass rusher, Riley is a huge, powerful man who is difficult to move out of his position once established.

Seventh round, 255th selection, Gervarrius Owens, S, Houston: 6-0, 195: Owens is a "project" at safety - not especially big or fast, but a tough-minded kid who will stick his nose into the pile in run support with glee. Will need to be taught the "center fielder" role in pass coverage in the NFL. Probably mostly a special teams contributor early in his career.

So there you have it, Giants Nation. The single most universally praised draft by New York in franchise history. Getting (arguably) the BEST "press cornerback" in the entire draft class, followed by the first-team All-America center with a "bad attitude" to boot, followed by the most explosive "vertical threat" WR in the nation? THIS is what it is like, messieurs Gettleman and Reese, to "hit the ball out of the park" in the draft!

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