Giants’ second-year cornerback could still steal the starting job

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 have still not penned down their starting cornerback opposite Deonte Banks for the upcoming season. While Cor’Dale Flott and Nick McCloud seem to be getting most of the buzz for the starting job, second-year cornerback Tre Hawkins III could still manage a way to steal the position.

Tre Hawkins III was impressive during training camp as a rookie

NFL: New York Giants Training Camp, tre hawkins
Jul 27, 2023; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants rookie cornerback Tre Hawkins III, left, intercepts a pass intended for rookie wide receiver Bryce Ford-Wheaton (6) on day two of training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

Hawkins was a summer standout last year as he made a name for himself during training camp. As a result of his strong summer of practices, Hawkins was named the team’s starting outside cornerback opposite Banks in Week 1. He was, however, quickly pulled out of the starting lineup after a poor stretch of performances made him a liability on the field.

But if Hawkins can put together another impressive summer of practices, he could once again find himself contending for the starting job. Last year, it didn’t take long for the sixth-round rookie to earn reps with the first team.

The Giants need Hawkins to play at a higher level this season

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Marquise Brown (2) catches a touchdown pass against New York Giants cornerback Tre Hawkins III (37) during the second half at State Farm Stadium
Sep 17, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Marquise Brown (2) catches a touchdown pass against New York Giants cornerback Tre Hawkins III (37) during the second half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

If Hawkins does find himself back on the field in the regular season, he will need to improve his performance significantly from where it was during his rookie year. Last season, Hawkins totaled 35 combined tackles and one pass defense in 17 games played with three starts.

He was targeted in coverage 30 times, surrendering 25 receptions (83.3%) for 403 yards and four touchdowns. This equated to a perfect passer rating of 158.3 for opposing quarterbacks when throwing into Hawkins’s coverage.

Despite all this, Hawkins is still a young player with size, strength, and the potential to develop into a quality player. He is a 6-foot-2 cornerback with physicality and a knack for making plays on the practice field. If that ability can begin to transfer over to the stadiums on Sundays, Hawkins could have a chance to compete with Flott and McCloud for that No. 2 cornerback job in the Giants’ starting lineup.

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