Giants’ 6th round rookie corner preparing for a big step forward

Washington Commanders wide receiver Dyami Brown (2) is unable the catch the ball as New York Giants cornerback Tre Hawkins III (37) defends in the second half at MetLife Stadium
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants drafted two defensive backs in the 2023 NFL draft, one of them being first-round corner Deonte Banks. Banks is coming off a solid rookie campaign and has set the stage to be the team’s leading option in the secondary next season.

However, sixth-round pick Tre Hawkins had a few solid performances, brewing optimism that he can develop into a starting player in the future as well.

However, Hawkins didn’t get much playing time during the second half of the year, but at 6’3″ and 195 pounds, the 23-year-old has the potential to become a contributor, but he knows there’s still a lot left to learn.

“It was a roller-coaster ride — lots of ups, lots of downs. It was a lot of little things [rolled] into one,” Hawkins told the New York Post as he cleaned out his locker this week.

Hawkins mentioned his struggle to stay focused while sitting on the sideline and watching his team compete, but that is part of the job for a late-round rookie who simply wasn’t ready to take on a full-time role.

“I was trying to go through any adversity that came my way and finish strong. It is hard staying focused [when not playing], but it’s my job and a task that I have to do.”

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The Giants Need to Continue Testing Tre Hawkins

Hawkins came out of the draft with elite athletic traits, but his inexperience coming from Old Dominion certainly was on full display. His best game came against the Arizona Cardinals, not allowing a catch across two targets over 40 snaps.

However, his performance against the San Francisco 49ers exposed his flaws, missing three tackles and giving up two receptions for 35 yards. That game showed the Giants he needed more time to develop, but he did have a few good outings scattered throughout the year.

“I think it’s more the mental part of the game — studying the game more, becoming more of an IQ player,” Hawkins said. “A lot of people are athletic in this league, but what separates you is how you study and your preparation.”

Hawkins got another starting opportunity in Week 7 after being left to the Wolves. He played 59 snaps, giving up three receptions for 34 yards but collecting four tackles against Washington.

The upside is there, he just needs more time to find his groove and take a step forward in terms of football IQ. Ideally, Hawkins would develop into a starting-level player, and the Giants would have two cornerbacks on rookie contracts for the next few years.

The expectation is they will bring in a veteran defensive back this upcoming off-season in free agency following the expected departure of Adoree Jackson. The Giants are still expecting Hawkins to continue his growth and compete for a prominent role in the future.