Jalin Hyatt

Giants Considering Starting Role For WR Jalin Hyatt; Sterling Shepard On Roster Bubble?

When the Giants look to repeat their success from last season in 2023, all eyes will understandably be on quarterback Daniel Jones given his sizeable extension signed in March. The team’s new-look receiving corps will be a key determining factor in their offensive improvement, though, meaning training camp developments amongst their pass-catchers are worth watching closely.

New York entered the offseason in need of an established playmaker in the passing game, and they acquired one in the form of Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller. The former Raven and Raider has impressed since being traded to New York, and he is expected to operate as the focal point of the Giants’ passing game moving forward. At the wide receiver spot, though, plenty is yet to be determined.

New York declined to make a sizeable splash on the open market, with their biggest moves being the addition of Parris Campbell and re-signing of Darius Slayton. During the draft, they added one of the class’ more intriguing prospects, third-rounder Jalin Hyatt. The latter was one of several WR targets for the Giants in April, and the team was prepared to use its second-round selection on the speedster.

Hyatt found himself on the third-string offense for much of the spring, but things have changed since then. The Tennessee alum is now seeing reps with the starters, as noted by Dan Duggan of The Athletic (subscription required). Hyatt, the 2022 Biletnikoff winner as college football’s top receiver, recorded 1,267 yards and 15 touchdowns in the Volunteers’ high-octane offense, but questions about his ability to transition from that scheme to the NFL had tempered his 2023 expectations. Now, though, signficant playing time appears to be in the cards.

The same cannot be said of the Giants’ longest-tenured player. Sterling Shepard finds himself on the roster bubble, Duggan notes. The 30-year-old suffered an ACL tear in 2022, which limited him to just three games played and added further to his history of signficant injuries. He was brought back on a low-cost deal, but the Giants would incur no financial penalty if they elected to include him among the final roster cuts.

Shepard is currently behind Cole Beasley on the depth chart, Duggan adds, which is certainly concerning with respect to the former’s job security. Beasley avoided a second retirement by heading to New York and reuniting with Brian Daboll in the process. The current Giants head coach served as the Bills’ offensive coordinator during Beasley’s most productive seasons, but expectations are still low given the latter’s age (34) and lack of playing time last season.

Preseason will go a long way in settling the WR pecking order in New York. The fact that Hyatt has come a long way toward a starting role, and that Shepard has work to do simply to make the roster, however, are notable storylines to follow as the rest of the summer plays out.

Giants Nearly Used Second-Round Pick On WR Jalin Hyatt

A popular team for pre-draft wide receiver visits, the Giants discussed potential deals that would have moved them into wideout range in this year’s first round. Instead opting to stand down, Big Blue saw four receivers go off the board just before their first-round pick.

Although the Giants did not end up with Zay Flowers or Jordan Addison — pre-draft visitors the team eyed on Day 1 — they added Tennessee prospect Jalin Hyatt to their receiving corps. The Giants took Hyatt in Round 3, but they were prepared to select him a round earlier.

When the Jaguars went on the clock for their No. 56 pick, the Giants had Hyatt and center John Michael Schmitz as their targets. Jacksonville traded the pick to Chicago, and with Giants brass concerned the NFC North team eyed one of its preferred players, Brian Daboll said Hyatt was likely going to be the pick at No. 57. With the Bears opting for cornerback Tyrique Stevenson, the Giants proceeded with Schmitz, a Minnesota product Daboll said (video link) “could start at center.”

That will likely be the expectation for Schmitz, but the Giants managed to land Hyatt 16 picks later. It took a trade-up with the Rams — one that cost the Giants Nos. 89 and 128 — but the Giants moved into position for Hyatt at No. 73. During the gap between the Schmitz and Hyatt picks, two other receivers — Marvin Mims and Nathaniel Dell — went off the board (to the Broncos and Texans, respectively). The reigning Biletnikoff winner remained available and is now in New York.

The Giants carried a top four of Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay and 2022 second-round pick Wan’Dale Robinson at receiver entering last season. Those plans quickly changed. Season-ending injuries removed Shepard and Robinson from the equation, and Toney’s unreliability led the Giants to trade him to the Chiefs. (The Giants used the third-rounder obtained in that deal to trade for Darren Waller in March.) Darius Slayton became a key performer by default, with the since-released Golladay quickly benched. The Giants re-signed Slayton and Shepard and are set to have Robinson back in the mix. The holdovers, a contingent that includes midseason waiver claim Isaiah Hodgins, join Hyatt, Jamison Crowder and Parris Campbell.

The Giants again considered an Odell Beckham Jr. reunion; the Ravens’ $15MM guaranteed won out. Had Beckham signed, the Giants’ receiver draft plan may have differed. But Hyatt, who rode a five-touchdown performance against Alabama to the Biletnikoff award, will soon be a key part of Daboll’s plan. The 6-foot pass catcher is coming off a 1,267-yard, 15-touchdown season. Joining a suddenly crowded receiver room, it will be interesting to see how the speedster factors in to start his rookie year.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/15/23

Here are the latest members of the 2023 draft class to sign their four-year rookie contracts:

Arizona Cardinals

Detroit Lions

Las Vegas Raiders

New York Giants

Hyatt will represent youth for the Giants, who have assembled a veteran-heavy receiving nucleus. Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Parris Campbell and Jamison Crowder are attached to veteran contracts. Hyatt joins 2022 second-round pick Wan’Dale Robinson and waiver claim Isaiah Hodgins as the young talents in this group. After trading up 16 spots to land Hyatt, Giants will rely on him for a deep speed presence. Although he went off the board 73rd overall, Hyatt is the reigning Biletnikoff award winner.

Martin and Young are each the top outside investment either the Lions or Raiders made along their respective interior defensive lines this offseason. The Lions drafted first- and second-round D-linemen (Aidan Hutchinson, Josh Paschal) last year. The Raiders have devoted plenty to their edge-rushing contingent, using a first-round pick on Tyree Wilson after giving Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones big-ticket deals last year, but the team has not allocated many resources to its D-tackle positions. Martin was the last of the six Day 1 or Day 2 picks the Lions made this year.

Giants Obtain No. 73 From Rams, Draft WR Jalin Hyatt

The Rams have completed another trade-down maneuver. They are sending No. 73 overall to the Giants in exchange for Nos. 89 and 128.

This move comes shortly after Sean McVay‘s team slid down from No. 69, dealing with the Texans. At 73, the Giants are taking wide receiver Jalin Hyatt. The Giants will add the Tennessee deep threat to a revamped receiving corps. The Volunteers’ top 2022 wideouts have gone back-to-back, with the Browns selecting Cedric Tillman at No. 74.

One of this draft’s best deep threats, Hyatt was among the many receiver prospects to spend time with the Giants during the pre-draft process. Hyatt will join new additions Parris Campbell and Jamison Crowder in New York. With the Giants also re-signing Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard — along with RFA Isaiah Hodgins — their receiver group is about at capacity.

Hyatt’s arrival does not supply the Giants with tremendous size, as he stands 6-foot tall. But he brings elite speed to the mix. He ran a 4.40-second 40-yard dash at the Combine but did so while dealing with a hamstring issue. He also is the reigning Biletnikoff award winner.

Hyatt broke through for a stunning performance against Alabama — in Tennessee’s October win — with a 207-yard, five-touchdown display. Last year represented Hyatt’s only notable run of production with the Volunteers; prior to his 1,267-yard season, he did not top 300 receiving yards in 2020 or ’21.

Last season, the Giants needed to drag Slayton out of their doghouse and use Hodgins — a midseason waiver claim — extensively as well. Big Blue also has Wan’Dale Robinson coming off an ACL tear. It would not seem there is room for all seven of these wideouts on Brian Daboll‘s roster, but considering the injury trouble the team has dealt with recently — while adding Campbell’s injury past to the mix — it might be wise for the team to stock up at the position.

If nothing else, Daniel Jones will enjoy a much deeper pass-catching corps compared to last season. After earning a $40MM-per-year payday, the fifth-year quarterback has this contingent and Darren Waller to target in 2023.

Draft Notes: Flowers, Eagles, Bills, Ravens

The Bears have already moved back once in the first round, sending the No. 1 pick to the Panthers for a package that included the No. 9 pick in Thursday’s draft. While the front office was able to restock their draft capital, the team could still look to move back a second time. According to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe, the Bears “probably would like to trade down” as they pursue more picks.

Volin suspects that the organization likes Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers but has no intention of taking him in the top 10. By trading back in the first round, Ryan Poles and co. can continue to collect assets while also selecting their preferred prospect in a more palatable spot. Volin also suggests that the front office could simply look to deal some of their non-firsts to trade into the back end of the first round, with the writer suggesting a package of picks No. 53, No. 61, and No. 64.

The Bears made a clear commitment to Justin Fields when they traded out of the first selection, eliminating any shot at adding one of the draft’s top QB prospects. The team’s apparent pursuit of Flowers emphasizes their desire to surround Fields with as many talented playmakers as possible, and it wouldn’t be shocking if the organization adds a handful of skill players before the draft is complete.

More notes leading up to Thursday’s draft…

  • A league executive told Peter King of Football Morning in America that the Eagles “love” Georgia edge rusher Nolan Smith, and the writer believes there’s a chance the organization selects the prospect with the 10th-overall pick. While many pundits have assumed the Eagles would select someone like Northwestern lineman Peter Skoronski, King notes that the organization generally hasn’t used high draft picks on offensive guards. Further, the team’s grouping of edge rushers (Brandon Graham, Haason Reddick, Derek Barnett and Josh Sweat) are pushing an average age of 30, so it wouldn’t be a shock if they add some youth to the grouping.
  • The Bills like North Carolina wideout Josh Downs, according to King. Scouts believe the receiver could start in the slot from Day 1, providing Josh Allen with another talented pass-catcher outside of Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis. Downs averaged nearly 100 yards per game over the past two seasons.
  • A number of teams believe the Ravens will be eyeing wide receivers when it’s their turn to pick at No. 22, according to Albert Breer of SI.com. While the organization added Odell Beckham to a grouping that also includes Rashod Bateman, the team could be looking for another burner to pair with Lamar Jackson. Breer points to Flowers as a “potential interesting fit.”
  • The Chiefs have made calls about moving up from the No. 31 pick, according to Breer. While teams believe Kansas City is simply looking for a “discounted way” to move up the board, Breer notes that the organization wouldn’t make such a move unless they had their eye on a particular prospect. Once again, Flowers comes up as a potential target, and Breer also points to Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs, Tennessee receiver Jalin Hyatt, and Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith as options.

Giants To Host WRs Jordan Addison, Jalin Hyatt; Team High On Jaxon Smith-Njigba?

Although the Giants made a surprising voyage to the divisional round last season, they are still a team featuring some clear needs heading into the draft. A No. 1-caliber wide receiver is one of them.

The Giants have done their homework on this year’s wide receiver crop leading up to pre-draft visit season, spending time with each of this year’s top-rated wideouts previously. But they will continue to exhaust resources to gauge pass catchers’ viability. USC’s Jordan Addison will meet with the Giants next week, per NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt is also headed to New York for a Wednesday visit, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

One of the fastest receivers in this year’s class, Hyatt said his hamstring tightened up before he ran a 4.40-second 40-yard dash time at the Combine. He did not run at Tennessee’s pro day. While both NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah and ESPN’s Scouts Inc. have Hyatt outside the top 40, ESPN.com’s Matt Miller views the 176-pound burner as a potential top-25 selection. The Bills, Cowboys and Saints have met with Hyatt as well.

Hyatt broke through for a stunning performance against Alabama — in Tennessee’s October win — with a 207-yard, five-touchdown display. Hyatt rode that outing to the Biletnikoff award. Last year represented Hyatt’s only notable run of production with the Volunteers; prior to his 1,267-yard season, the 6-foot target did not top 300 receiving yards in 2020 or ’21.

The Giants, who hold the No. 25 pick, dined with Jaxon Smith-Njigba ahead of the Ohio State alum’s pro day last month. While they are looking into Addison, Fox Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano adds Smith-Njigba is the receiver the Giants most likely view as this class’ top prize. A hamstring injury nagged Smith-Njigba throughout last season, but his 2021 — when the slot player’s 1,606 receiving yards dwarfed the totals of first-rounders Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave — still has his stock high. Smith-Njigba might not be available when the Giants pick, and his skillset might not be ideal for a team hoarding slot types already (Sterling Shepard, Parris Campbell, Jamison Crowder to go with Wan’Dale Robinson). A number of teams are looking into the latest draft-eligible Buckeyes receiver talent.

New York is also doing work on front-seven prospects. Defensive lineman Bryan Bresee and edge rusher Will McDonald are on the radar, with SI.com’s Albert Breer indicating (via Twitter) the Iowa State edge visited Monday while the Clemson interior defender is in town today.

Once a top-five national recruit, Bresee bounced back from an injury-plagued 2021. Grading as Jeremiah’s No. 37 prospect, the 298-pound D-tackle could profile as a late-first-round prospect. McDonald saw action in five Cyclones seasons and finished two of them (2020, 2021) in double digits for sacks. The 6-foot-4 edge combined for 26 tackles for loss in that span as well. Both Scouts Inc. and Jeremiah slot McDonald — the Cyclones’ all-time sack leader (34) — 26th in this class.

The Giants are fairly well-invested on both their defensive line and at outside linebacker. They used the No. 5 overall pick on Kayvon Thibodeaux last year and have former second-rounder Azeez Ojulari going into his third season. Up front, the team has Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence. Both players are going into contract years, though Lawrence extension talks have begun. A Williams extension also would reduce his mammoth 2023 cap number ($32.26MM).

Bills Meet With WR Jalin Hyatt, To Host Jordan Addison; Trade-Up In Play?

Much of the intrigue surrounding this month’s draft has been focused on teams near the top of the board, but the Bills could be a team to watch amongst those currently scheduled to select later on Day 1. They will continue doing homework on a number of receiver options who could be available, and a move up the board may not be out of the question.

Buffalo met with Tennessee alum Jalin Hyatt yesterday, per Jordan Schultz of The Score (Twitter link). That adds to the growing list of teams who have looked into this year’s Biletnikoff award winner as the country’s top receiver, and could point him towards a first-round selection. Hyatt had two modest seasons to begin his career with the Volunteers, but took a massive step forward in 2022 with a 67/1,267/15 statline.

His 18.9 yards per catch average in 2022 makes Hyatt one of the best vertical threats in the 2023 receiver class, one which has led teams around the league in several different directions with respect to evaluations. The All-American is one of several wideouts with first-round potential who is on the slender side (6-0, 175), but he should still be able to carve out a sizeable role early in his NFL career.

The same is true of Jordan Addison, who will visit the Bills this week, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). The Pitt transfer had a down year compared to 2021 in his lone season at USC, but still finds himself in contention to be the top receiver taken and is seen as one of the safest prospects at the position. Addison, like many other wideouts headlining the 2023 class, is likely to see considerable time in the slot at the NFL level, which could make Buffalo an interesting destination.

The Bills are in search of a consistent No. 2 option in the passing game behind Stefon Diggs, and both Hyatt and Addison could provide the skillset needed to find a long-term answer in that regard. Buffalo will also meet with Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba, as they cast a wide net in their pre-draft evaluations. Given how high at least some of the top receivers will hear their names called, though, the Bills may need to get aggressive to land their preferred option.

ESPN’s Matt Miller notes that a trade-up could be in play for Buffalo, who currently holds pick No. 27. Moving towards the middle of the first round may be necessary to beat out other WR-needy teams for the first or second option, though plenty of uncertainty remains regarding how many pass-catchers will go on Day 1 given the relative lack of star power in this class. The Bills also have just six picks in total this year, so a sizeable move in the first round may not be feasible.

Buffalo ranked seventh in passing offense last season, and the team has made only relatively minor moves at the receiver position so far in free agency. An impact rookie could help give them a potential successor to Gabe Davis in the No. 2 receiver role, since the former fourth-rounder is entering the final year of his rookie contract. How interested the Bills are in one or more of the prospects who could be in their range will be a storyline to watch.

Draft Rumors: Bears, Jets, Patriots, Titans, Cardinals, Carter, Cowboys, Saints, Browns, Bucs, Jaguars, Ravens

Teams on the radar for tackle help will be meeting with one of the top options available. Georgia tackle Broderick Jones has at least four meetings on his pre-draft itinerary. Jones met with the Titans on Tuesday, will visit the Jets today and has his Patriots meeting on tap for Thursday, according to KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson. Each of these teams exited free agency’s early waves with a question mark at one of their two starting tackle positions. The Bears are meeting with Jones, and the Cardinals are also likely to huddle up with the tackle prospect, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler tweets.

Jones played only two full college seasons, redshirting in 2020 and declaring for the draft after his sophomore year with the Bulldogs. Of course, both those campaigns ended with Georgia winning national championships. Jones saw action behind Chargers 2022 draftee Jamaree Salyer in 2021 and took over as the Bulldogs’ full-time left tackle last season, starting all 15 Georgia games. He earned first-team All-SEC recognition for his work. The 6-foot-5 blocker grades as ESPN.com’s No. 24 overall prospect, while NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah slots the one-year college starter 19th on his big board.

Here is the latest regarding this year’s draft pool:

  • Like last year, Georgia stands to be well represented in the first round. The top ex-Bulldog available will be Jalen Carter, who has generated increased scrutiny in recent weeks. After the arrest warrant interrupted Carter’s Combine, Albert Breer of SI.com notes teams outside the top 10 begun digging into the high-end defensive tackle prospect. Carter, who will not face jail time in connection with the misdemeanor warrants that arrived in February, does not plan to take visits with teams picking outside the top 10. The teams picking beyond No. 10 look to have expressed increased interest after the charges, which have affected Carter’s stock to a degree. A mediocre pro day did as well. Carter is open to meeting with teams who could trade into the top 10, and Breer adds a Laremy Tunsil-like tumble out of the top 10 should not be ruled out based on some teams’ views.
  • Joining Carter and Jones as first-round-caliber talents, defensive end Nolan Smith is on a few teams’ radars. Jeremiah’s No. 16 overall prospect, Smith met with the Buccaneers on Tuesday and will visit the Ravens and Jaguars later this week, Wilson notes. A torn pectoral muscle limited Smith to eight games in 2022, and he did not top 4.5 sacks in a season with the Bulldogs. But the explosive edge — he of a 4.39-second 40-yard dash at the Combine — is still viewed as a near-certainty to go off the board early. The Bucs and Ravens used first-round choices on an edge in 2021 (Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, Odafe Oweh), while the Jaguars took Georgia edge rusher Travon Walker first overall last year.
  • Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt visited the Cowboys on Tuesday and is meeting with the Saints today, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport and The Score’s Jordan Schultz report (Twitter links). The Browns also hosted Hyatt this week, CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson tweets. Teaming with QB Hendon Hooker, Hyatt won the Biletnikoff award — given to the Division I-FBS’ top wideout — last season after catching 15 touchdown passes. After not exceeding 300 receiving yards in his first two college seasons, Hyatt broke through for 1,267 in 2022. The slender receiver sits 36th on Jeremiah’s board; Scouts Inc. slots him 44th. The Saints have also met with Hooker.
  • In addition to Hyatt, the Cowboys hosted Trenton Simpson, per Rapoport, who adds a Browns visit is also on tap for the former Clemson linebacker. Simpson started for two seasons at Clemson, pairing 65 tackles with 6.5 sacks as a junior. This is not viewed as a strong off-ball linebacker class. Both Jeremiah and Scouts Inc. rate Simpson as the top ILB available; he appears outside the top 40 on both big boards.