Giants have rookie 3rd round pick fielding punts at OTAs

jalin hyatt, giants
***DUP***Tennessee defensive lineman LaTrell Bumphus (11)/Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt (11) trying to get past Missouri defensive back Jaylon Carlies (1) during an NCAA college football game on Saturday, November 12, 2022 in Knoxville, Tenn. Ut Vs Missouri

The New York Giants kicked off “Phase 3” of their offseason this week, holding their first practice of OTAs on Monday. With no live contact permitted, the team will be doing plenty of 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills for the next couple of weeks, providing the coaching staff with a closer look at the skill position players.

During Monday’s practice, the Giants did take a look at their special teams unit. With no clear-cut starter in place as the return specialist, New York is trying a couple of exciting names at the position. Rookie third-round pick Jalin Hyatt fielded punts during the first practice, along with veteran CB Adoree’ Jackson.

Jalin Hyatt and Adoree’ Jackson field punts at Giants OTAs

According to the official Practice Report posted on the team’s website, the Giants had the following players field punts early in practice: Adoree’ Jackson, Darnay Holmes, Jamison Crowder, Jalin Hyatt, Darius Slayton, and Jaydon Mickens.

The most notable names on the list are Hyatt and Jackson. Giants fans erupted with excitement during the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft after HC Brian Daboll initiated a trade with the Los Angeles Rams to grab Hyatt with the 73rd overall selection. The home-run-hitting receiver will provide the offense with elite speed and playmaking ability.

That skill set, though, could also be utilized on special teams. Hyatt ran a blazing-fast 4.40s 40-yard dash at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine. Though he never returned any punts or kicks during his collegiate career, it makes sense for the Giants to try Hyatt in that position because of his speed and elusiveness.

According to Football SIS, Hyatt averaged 7.3 yards after the catch per reception during his career at Tennessee. Despite not having any special teams experience, his ability to make plays with the ball in his hands warrants Hyatt an opportunity to compete for the position of return specialist.

Jackson’s participation at the position is far more surprising, however. During the 2022 season, Jackson fielded three punts for the Giants before injuring his knee on a return in Week 11 versus the Lions. The injury sustained on special teams subsequently left New York’s defense without its top cornerback.

The decision to feature Jackson on special teams as a return man was perplexing considering the risk of injury involved with playing that position. Considering Jackson was injured on special teams last season, it seems unlikely that he will actually play the position during the regular season. New York would be better off letting Hyatt showcase his talents on special teams during his regular season.