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Why did the Giants draft Jalin Hyatt? Joe Schoen, Brian Daboll explain

It is, of course, all about the speed

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel
Jalin Hyatt
Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

New York Giants GM Joe Schoen resisted the temptation to trade up in Round 2 to select center John Michael Schmitz, sweating out 14 picks and a trade up by the Chicago Bears to No. 56 after the New York Jets had selected Joe Tippmann at No. 43.

Why? Because he felt there might be an opportunity to move up from No. 89 in Round 3 to get a high-value player.

That decision ultimately led to Schoen getting both a center the Giants desperately needed and wide receiver Jalin Hyatt, who Schoen traded up to No. 73 to select. He surrendered his fourth-round pick (No. 128) to do so.

Schoen said Hyatt was “in that range” on the Giants’ board and could have been a possible choice at 57 if Schmitz had been gone. Did he think at the time he could actually get both players.

“Not really,” he said. “We were joking around after we took the center (John Michael Schmitz) and were like, hey, wonder if we can get them both. I told the guys, just start making calls when it looks like we’re going to do it for our four (fourth-round pick), when it comes into range, and we made a couple phone calls and some teams were interested in doing it. We’re ecstatic to be able to get him.”

The team that bit, allowing the Giants to move up, was the pick-needy Los Angeles Rams. Head coach Brian Daboll got the ball rolling with a text message to Rams coach Sean McVay.

“Dabs actually executed his first trade,” Schoen said. “He initiated the trade with the Rams; so, I congratulate him on that. If you know somebody, hey, why don’t you shoot the Rams a text, or you know, give them a call and again, this is what it looks like it would be, does it make sense and we just call and say, hey, when you’re on the clock, let us know.”

Schoen said Daboll, who loves to FaceTime but not text, did get a tad of help.

“We had to type it in his phone for him,” Schoen said. “He said, ‘Here, just type it in for me.’”

Hyatt was tremendous value at No. 73. He carried a second-round grade on the Big Blue View Big Board. Hyatt was the third-ranked wide receiver and No. 31 overall prospect for Dane Brugler, draft analyst for The Athletic, carrying a Round 1-2 grade.

Because of the extremely spread offense Hyatt played in at Tennessee, Matt Waldman of The Rookie Scouting Portfolio sees Hyatt as somewhat of a projection in the NFL. In his draft guide, Waldman wrote:

The blessing is that Hyatt has the skills to earn so much separation that all he has to do is run under the ball. The curse is that the best SEC defensive backs aren’t (yet, if ever) close to talent of the best NFL cornerbacks on every team that he’ll see weekly. It’s likely that Hyatt will have to make contested catches and his ability to earn position at the catch point while in tight coverage is not a known factor.

Hyatt can take contact and maintain possession. He can also turn back to an underthrown target. However, in those instances, he was often a beat or two earlier than he should have been and would have tipped off his attack to better cornerbacks in the NFL.

None of this makes Hyatt a fraud of an NFL prospect. His positioning at the catch point will be the difference between him having seasonal yardage upside over 1,000 yards or his ceiling being 700-900 yards and fewer targets.

Hyatt is a shifty receiver with quick and precise footing after the catch. He’s not afraid to split defenders, but he’s not going to bounce off hits or pull through any contact beyond reaches.

Tennessee used Hyatt as a target on short passes that act as an extension of the run game, but his lack of yards after contact skill is a contributing factor for lower returns on these plays that some might expect.

Hyatt will be a useful weapon for a team that needs a deep threat, but the ceiling for his dynamic skillset is unknown until he proves that he can earn position against tight man coverage and win these targets.

In need of weapons for an offense that was last in the NFL in explosive plays in 2022, the Giants — given the opportunity — jumped at the chance to add Hyatt’s speed.

“He can roll,” Schoen said. “I was at that Alabama game [5 TDs, 207 receiving yards for Hyatt]. I can’t remember why I came in late, but I was a little bit late. But I was on the field for the first half. I was coming from another game, landed there, and first half I was on the field, and you could really feel his speed. It’s legit 4.3.”

Hyatt adds a dynamic vertical element to a revamped corps of receivers for the Giants. Listed at 6-foot-⅛ and 176 pounds, Hyatt told media Friday night that he is up to “188, 189” and plans to play at 190 pounds.

“I still have a lot of things to work on but at the same time, definitely work on that with the Giants and I definitely know what I can do and what I’m capable of it and what type of player that I am,” Hyatt said. “I really believe the Giants added somebody who can change the game and I can’t wait to do that and show that.”

Schoen said adding speed to the entire roster was an offseason goal.

“I would say both sides of the ball, just team speed in general. Offense), defense and special teams,” he said. “I think we did that with some of the free agents we signed: Parris Campbell can roll, Jeff (Smith) can roll, (Bobby) Okereke runs well. We’ve upgraded the speed in general; (Darren) Waller. So yeah, that’s definitely something watching our team last year, we just felt we needed to get faster in all three phases.”

Schoen’s relationship with Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel helped sell the Giants on Hyatt, who obviously fell farther in the draft than many expected.

“Josh Heupel, the head coach at Tennessee is a good friend of mine. We go way back,” Schoen said. “Oklahoma was my area [as a scout] a long time ago when he was a quarterback coach. I’ve known him for a long time, and he was the head coach at Central Florida when we took Gabe Davis, when we were in Buffalo. There’s some history there. I called him at some point today and just checked on Hyatt. We had him in on a visit. Again, I’m not sure why he was there [at 73], but we feel good about him and glad he was.”

Daboll also mentioned Davis in discussing Hyatt.

“I think he’s a good player. I think he runs some of the routes that we run here. You can see, a little bit like Gabe, how it might translate,” he said. “But again, everything is new for him. He’s a young guy. We’ll throw him in the mix with the other receivers and let those guys compete it out. A good visit here. Definitely has some qualities that you like when you’re watching him. Good young man. So, happy we have him.”