Giants add physically imposing cornerback with upside

tre hawkins, giants
Jan 14, 2023; Orlando, FL, USA; Team Kai wide receiver Elijah Cooks (11) of the San Jose State Spartans catches a pass as Team Aina cornerback Tre Hawkins (28) of the Old Dominion Monarchs defends during the second quarter in the 2023 Hula Bowl at UCF FBC Mortgage Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

A consistent theme emerged for the New York Giants throughout the 2023 NFL Draft: their clear intent to enhance athleticism across the board on their roster. Speed, size, and strength took priority, which is why sixth-round pick Tre Hawkins III from Old Dominion presents immense developmental potential.

Hawkins, standing at 6’3″ and weighing 195 pounds, boasts exceptional size for a cornerback at the NFL level. A football and track standout in high school, he went on to play for Old Dominion, where he started all 25 games for the Monarchs over two consecutive years.

In 2021, Hawkins participated in 13 games, amassing 77 tackles, six defended passes, and one forced fumble. In 2022, across 12 games, he recorded 57 tackles, six defended passes, two interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and two forced fumbles.

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The Giants are getting a nice developmental player in Tre Hawkins:

Hawkins displayed notable production, but transitioning to the NFL poses a significantly different challenge. Despite his impressive size and active hands, he lacks the vision and fundamental instincts necessary to excel as an immediate impact player.

Recognizing his athletic profile, the Giants decided he was worth investing in as a potential long-term project. Most of Hawkins’ weaknesses stem from mental capabilities and mastering the position at a high level. His physical profile certainly suggests a talented player, so much of his growth will likely occur in the classroom—watching film, understanding pre-snap coverages, and learning when to react.

“I’m physical. I’m versatile. I can play anywhere in the back end (using) my speed, length, and strength,” he said. “I was kind of born with (the physicality), growing up with older cousins and getting picked on. You’ve got to be kind of the tough dog out of the little family. I kind of was born with it, groomed into it.”

The rookie corner is confident he can adapt to different schemes at the NFL level, specifically, the man coverage system the Giants currently employ under Wink Martindale’s leadership. Requiring physicality and the ability to tackle on the boundary, Hawkins possesses the mindset and aggressiveness to step up in the run game, which can sometimes challenge corners.

Early in his career, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Hawkins serve as a gunner on the punt unit, capitalizing on his athleticism and tackling prowess. Making a positive impact early in his career while developing would be the ideal scenario, allowing him time to hone his skills as a cornerback.