As the New York Giants gear up for their regular season opener, which is just around the corner, they face some significant decisions.
One critical call is whether to start two rookie cornerbacks—Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins—alongside veteran Adoree Jackson. The rookies have positioned themselves well throughout training camp and preseason, making a compelling case for being named starters.
High Expectations for Banks, Surprise Emergence of Hawkins
Banks, a first-round draft pick, was anticipated to line up next to Jackson from the get-go. Hawkins, however, was more of a wildcard; a sixth-round selection viewed as a developmental asset who has impressively fought his way into the starting lineup.
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The Value of Late-Round Success: Hawkins Shines in Preseason
Securing even one hit with a late-round draft choice would be a big win for the Giants. Hawkins has been that hit so far, logging 61 snaps during the preseason. He managed to amass five tackles and two stops while allowing only 30 yards in coverage across four receptions. Hawkins has demonstrated his value not just in pass coverage but also against the run, exhibiting keen gap awareness and physicality.
Banks Steps Up: Glue-Like Coverage and Solid Tackling
Banks, too, has shown promise, executing solid tackles and sticking to his assigned receivers like glue. If the Giants’ secondary can hold its own and allow the pass rush to reach the quarterback, this could signal a significant defensive leap for the team in 2023.
Giants’ Schoen Weighs In: Rookies Earned Their Opportunity
General Manager Joe Schoen has been vocal about the rookies’ outstanding performance and work ethic. “Regardless of where you were drafted, how much money you’re making, I think that was on display last year,” Schoen said when asked about Banks and Hawkins. “No different than these guys, regardless of where they were drafted, they earned their reps. They earned the opportunity.”
Veteran Safety Xavier McKinney Acknowledges Rookies’ Impact
Xavier McKinney, the team’s veteran safety who’s likely to start beside the rookie duo, has also noticed their influence. “From jump when they came in, they were focused and they knew what they wanted to do,” McKinney told The Post about Hawkins and Banks. “And ultimately, they’ve been able to do that so far. They’ve had their bumps in the road, but that’s with any rookie — you’re going to go through different things.”
Long-Term Benefits: Cost-Effective Defense and Future Extensions
From a future planning standpoint, if both rookies secure their starting positions, this not only provides cost-effectiveness but could also facilitate future contract extensions for players like McKinney. Although the Giants haven’t opened negotiations on McKinney’s extension just yet, there’s a strong possibility these talks could progress during the regular season.