As the NFL draft approached this past April, the New York Giants had a laser-focused goal: ramp up their team athleticism.
Stellar Additions in Free Agency
In a bid to reinforce their lineup, the Giants didn’t just rely on the draft. They actively participated in free agency, signing standout athletes like Parris Campbell and Bobby Okereke. Not to mention the trade acquisition of Darren Waller, who’s already making headlines with a stellar preseason display against the Carolina Panthers.
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The Dual Cornerback Acquisition
However, the draft was where the Giants hit a goldmine, especially with their acquisition of two cornerbacks with unparalleled athletic prowess: Deonte Banks in the first round and Tre Hawkins in the sixth.
Banks not only bagged the top athletic score at the NFL Combine but also recorded the third-highest score in the past decade. His impressive 4.35 40-yard dash, complemented by a 1.49 10-yard split demonstrates his ability to cover ground swiftly, closing the gap on receivers.
With a potent mix of strength, agility, and his 6-foot, 197-pound frame, Banks is not just poised to bolster the run game but also to potentially neutralize top receivers. As Adoree Jackson’s contract nears its end post the 2023 season, the Giants are optimistic about Banks stepping up as the primary option.
In his initial preseason matches, Banks showcased his potential by not allowing any receptions on four targets, further strengthening his position with three tackles. Meanwhile, Hawkins, the sixth-rounder, is rapidly emerging as a pleasant surprise.
Hawkins, who boasts a 4.39 40-yard dash and a 6’2″, 188-pound stature, is rapidly transitioning from a potential bench warmer or practice squad inclusion to a player demanding first-team attention. Already sharing significant playtime alongside stalwarts like Banks and Jackson, he’s proving his mettle. Despite being tested across 61 defensive snaps, Hawkins has yielded just four receptions on six targets, consistently ensuring receivers don’t advance much post-catch.
His commendable performance against the Panthers, particularly shadowing Adam Thielen with unmatched tenacity, underscores his evolving game sense. For someone initially perceived to lack football instincts due to his education at a smaller institution, Hawkins is debunking myths and looks set to commence the season with a bang. Ideally, a Banks-Hawkins partnership on the outside could prove economical for the Giants in the coming seasons, freeing up funds for bolstering other positions.
A Promising 2023 for the Giants
The early indicators suggest the Giants’ rookie draft class might turn out to be a treasure trove. If all goes as per the current trajectory, the 2023 season could witness these rookies playing pivotal roles, helping the Giants build on their previous season’s successes.