The New York Giants have completed nine practices, the entire portion of training camp open to fans in East Rutherford, N.J. Let’s take a look at the risers and fallers as the Giants get ready to head to Detroit for joint practices with the Detroit Lions to prepare for their first preseason game.
Tre Hawkins III — The sixth-round pick out of Old Dominion was thought to have the size and man coverage skills to be a developmental cornerback in the Giants’ man-heavy scheme. He might be more than that.
As defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has said, Hawkins is having a “great camp.” He has been so intriguing that over the past few practices he has taken a healthy number of reps with the first team.
Tariq Woolen of the Seattle Seahawks was the exception to the rule last season when it comes to Day 3 cornerbacks excelling as the fifth-round pick had a tremendous rookie season, but Hawkins is showing encouraging signs. If he continues to play as well as he has thus far, he could give the Giants the option of playing Adoree’ Jackson in the slot — at least at times.
Jason Pinnock — The Giants will say there is still a competition at safety next to Xavier McKinney. Still, day after day it has been Pinnock aligned next to McKinney with the first team. Plus, Pinnock did this:
Darrian Beavers — The second-year linebacker has picked up where he left off in training camp a year ago, when he was headed toward a big role on defense before suffering a season-ending torn ACL.
Micah McFadden takes some reps with the first team next to Bobby Okereke, but most of them go to Beavers. The second starting linebacker job appears to belong to Beavers at this point.
Jalin Hyatt — Star. Of. Camp. That’s all. The third-round pick has shown far more polish as a route runner and receiver than many thought he had. If NFL scouts had expected this there is no way Hyatt would have been available at pick No. 73, where GM Joe Schoen engineered a trade up to select him. Hyatt is one of those ‘when he’s even, he’s leavin’ players who simply runs away from defensive backs at times.
John Michael Schmitz — The rookie center appears on track to be the Week 1 starter. The rotation at center with Schmitz and Ben Bredeson that was occurring early in training camp, has gone away. Saturday was the first time in nearly a week that Bredeson received first-team reps at center.
Darren Waller — Unicorn. Freak. Unique. Unguardable. Those are some of the ways the 6-foot-6, 255-pound tight end has been described during training camp.
“It’s like he’s eating peanuts off the top of people’s heads,” Martindale said recently about watching Waller climb to make catches his defensive backs can’t compete with.
The fact that Waller can line up all over the formation makes the Giants a virtually position-less receiving group. The Giants haven’t had a tight end like this since the heyday of Jeremy Shockey two decades ago.
Saquon Barkley — First of all, he signed the amended franchise tag and showed up. Second of all, he has looked really good. Especially as a receiver.
Darius Slayton — The biggest hole in Slayton’s game has always been inconsistent hands. Slayton had unacceptable drop percentages of 10.3 and 9.9 the past two seasons, worst of his four years with the Giants.
Slayton reportedly spent time this offseason working on his catching fundamentals, and to my recollection has not dropped a ball yet during team drills. A Slayton with dependable hands could be a very dangerous player.
Sterling Shepard — The veteran wide receiver is off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list earlier than many thought. Saturday night, he showed he still has some burst by catching a deep ball from Tyrod Taylor. I still think Shepard making the 53-man roster a 50-50 proposition and he could wind up working somewhere in the Giants’ organization a month from now. When he has practiced, it has been nice, though, to see him make some plays — even if it has been mostly against backups unlikely to make the roster.
Tyre Phillips — Phillips did a nice job last season filling in for Evan Neal at right tackle. He got first-team reps in one practice this summer at left guard. It is pretty obvious that the Giants see Phillips as a valuable backup.
Darnay Holmes — We spent a considerable amount of offseason time discussing the fact that the cap-needy Giants could save roughly $2.7 million against the cap by cutting Holmes.
The rise of Hawkins and the use of Adoree’ Jackson in the slot at times could be bad news for Holmes, who has seen some third-team reps.
Bobby McCain — The veteran safety appears to have lost the starting safety job to Pinnock. McCain has played six special teams snaps over the past three seasons, and hasn’t played regularly on those units since 2017. That calls into question whether he can take up a roster if he is a backup who doesn’t help on special teams.
Several injured players — I hate calling guys who are injured ‘fallers,’ but the longer players like cornerback Aaron Robinson, defensive tackle D.J. Davidson, and offensive lineman Marcus McKethan are unable to practice the more difficult it is going to be for them to make the 53-man roster.
Rodarius Williams — It is actually a bit surprising that Williams is even part of the 90-man roster after he went to social media with his displeasure about his lack of 2022 playing time. Still, the third-year cornerback is buried on the depth chart and looks like little more than a camp body.
Jordon Riley — I know, I know. The rookie defensive tackle was a seventh-round pick, so how much should be expected? Still, the next time I notice him in a practice will be the first time. With D.J. Davidson and A’Shawn Robinson on PUP, Ryder Anderson hurt, and a collection of camp bodies on the defensive tackle depth chart right now there is an opportunity for Riley. To my eyes, it doesn’t look like he is taking advantage of it.