New York Giants OTAs Preview: Eric Gray, Jalin Hyatt Names To Watch

We look at the top three storylines to watch unfold at the New York Giants' OTAs this week, including how Jalin Hyatt and Deonte Banks perform.

The New York Giants will enter the 2023 NFL season with an improved roster and confidence they can make another playoff push. After beefing up their roster by adding playmakers at key positions on both sides of the ball, the Giants will have several positional battles and storylines throughout OTAs.

We’re breaking down the top three stories to watch in the Giants’ OTAs period, including how three of their top draft picks perform.

Top Stories To Watch at New York Giants OTAs

1) Can Eric Gray Climb the Depth Chart?

Because star running back Saquon Barkley hasn’t signed his franchise tag, he won’t be able to attend OTAs. That opens a massive door for rookie Eric Gray, who was drafted in the fifth round out of Oklahoma. The 207-pounder isn’t much of a big-play threat, but he can gain every yard available to him thanks to his short-area burst and smooth cuts that create space away from defenders.

MORE: 2023 Offense Rankings — Where Do the Giants Land?

There’s a massive difference in athleticism between Barkley and Gray, but that doesn’t mean Gray doesn’t have solid backup or low-end starting potential. If the Giants’ offensive line is as improved as hoped with Ben Bredeson back at left guard and rookie center John Michael Schmitz slotted in, Gray has to show he can do the job if Barkley isn’t in the team’s long-term plans.

That means winning on all three downs. Gray proved to be a formidable pass catcher in college, totaling 99 receptions for 827 yards and five scores over four seasons. If he can pick up pass protection concepts and be an effective rusher, Gray can quickly ascend to the team’s No. 2 back role over Matt Breida and Gary Brightwell.

2) How Does the Cornerback Room Play Out?

Considering that star cornerback Adoree’ Jackson missed seven games with an MCL sprain and Aaron Robinson missed 15 games with a torn ACL, the Giants had to add competition to the secondary.

Robinson is hoping to be back by training camp in late July. Relying on journeyman Fabian Moreau and youngsters Nick McCloud and Cordale Flott to be featured defenders simply wasn’t an option again.

MORE: Does Wink Martindale Have the Pieces Needed for Success?

The Giants brought in Deonte Banks with their first-round pick and signed Amani Oruwariye after a down season in Detroit.

Banks was drafted to anchor the CB spot across from Jackson. The 6’0″, 203-pounder appears to be a perfect fit for Martindale, as he plays similarly to how Marlon Humphrey does for the Ravens. Martindale was Baltimore’s defensive coordinator while Humphrey bloomed into stardom.

Banks doesn’t need to be Sauce Gardner as a rookie for the Giants to benefit from his addition. Neither McCloud nor Flott was overly impactful, so any bit of playmaking from Banks will be a boost.

Oruwariye was an interesting upside signing. He nabbed six interceptions in 2021 and allowed only 2.3 receptions for 34.7 yards per game in Detroit’s zone-heavy scheme. But his momentum ended in 2022 as penalties and poor positioning became a problem before being benched.

It’s probable that Banks and Jackson earn the starting jobs with Darnay Holmes in the slot, just based on past performance. However, there’s now real competition for others to make the final roster.

3) Is Jalin Hyatt Ready To Start?

The verticality of the Giants’ offense was a significant issue in 2022. Darius Slayton had downfield speed but was also the obvious deep threat. Considering that quarterback Daniel Jones ranked 30th in deep-ball attempts and 20th in air yards, the numbers spell out New York’s offensive limitations.

Jalin Hyatt, drafted 73rd overall, could be part of the solution. Though he was a unique deep threat from the slot in Tennessee’s vertical-spread system, Hyatt knows he can be more than that.

MORE: New York Giants 2023 Schedule

When it came to Hyatt’s experience and skill set, he said, “I’m not going to come in here and say I only play slot, or I only want to play outside. That’s why I said I’m dynamic and explosive. I want to play everywhere. … I’m going to do what I have to do.”

Hyatt’s development can be massive for New York because they oddly added multiple versions of players they already had on the roster. While it’s wise not to count on Wan’Dale Robinson or Sterling Shepard producing much in 2023 (or ever based on their injuries), Parris Campbell, Isaiah Hodgins, and Jamison Crowder have similar skill sets as those two.

Slayton and Hyatt have more explosiveness, but the latter was more of a slot specialist or someone you’d use in a role similar to Campbell when he’s not going vertically. If Hyatt can prove to be a well-rounded player, he could enter the starting lineup and play an even bigger role than expected.

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