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Jalin Hyatt can go in several directions as a rookie

Hyatt’s slide in the draft could be both fortuitous for the Giants and also a recognition of his room to grow

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 22 UT Martin at Tennessee
Jalin Hyatt
Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

One of the New York Giants’ most exciting players is third-round pick Jalin Hyatt. His blazing play speed and big-play potential can add a dimension to the Giants’ offense that was sorely lacking in 2022. However, his experience in a gimmicky, spread-style offense in college could also cause a steep learning curve at the NFL level in Year 1.

By the numbers

Height: 6-foot
Weight: 185
Age: 21
Position: Wide receiver
Experience: Rookie
Contract: Four-year, $5,625,316 rookie deal | Guaranteed at signing: $1,091,040 | 2023 cap hit: $1,022,785

Career to date

Hyatt was selected out of Tennessee with the 73rd pick in this year’s draft. The Giants traded up from No. 89 to secure Hyatt, surrendering their fourth-rounder, No. 128, in the process. It was considered a steal by many, as Hyatt was the 39th-ranked prospect on NFL Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board and was considered a fringe first-rounder.

Hyatt played three seasons at Tennessee, starting 14 of 29 games played. After two mostly nondescript seasons in which he caught 20 and 18 balls, he exploded in his junior year, nabbing 67 of 89 targets (75.3%) for 1,267 yards and 15 touchdowns. His 78.2 Pro Football Focus receiving grade ranked 43rd out of 185 qualified FBS receivers (min. 60 targets), and his 3.27 yards per route run ranked fourth. He had a targeted passer rating of 156.5, the best mark in the FBS.

Hyatt did have a bit of a problem with drops, posting a 7.1% rate in his college career, per PFF, with a 6.9% mark in 2022 vs. the national average of 4.8%. His biggest asset, though, was his home-run ability, as he posted a 99.9 PFF grade and eight touchdowns on passes of 20+ yards.

2023 outlook

It is difficult to know exactly what Hyatt’s role will be in his first year. Although he played primarily in the slot in college, he has been lining up all over the field during OTAs. The Giants have Darius Slayton and Isaiah Hodgins as their top two outside receivers, while Parris Campbell and Wan’Dale Robinson will compete for slot snaps. Hyatt will likely see extensive motion looks to give him free releases, but that could come from any spot in the formation, inside or outside.

The biggest question about Hyatt is whether he can beat press coverage at the NFL level. He stated in his introductory press conference with the Giants that he’d like to get up to 190 pounds in the league, which is likely to help him muscle past NFL cornerbacks. Still, coming from a spread offense, that is often one of the biggest concerns. Indeed, he struggled to defeat press coverage in college.

Now, we’ve seen many college speedsters be stymied at the NFL level. That concern is definitely there for Hyatt, who ran a limited route tree at Tennessee and was often wide open. Still, the raw talent is there, and his third-round draft stock means that the expectations are not as overwhelming as if he’d been an earlier selection.

Furthermore, Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka showed last season that they know how to scheme players open. If the concern about Hyatt is that he can’t win on his own, the Giants will certainly find him open looks with motion. He can turn that space into explosive plays.

Look for Hyatt to make at least some impact as a rookie by keeping the deep threat alive and utilizing space well. Whether he can do more than that depends on his own learning curve as well as the Giants’ target distribution with (suddenly) many mouths to feed.