Trading away first-round selection Kadarius Toney to the Kansas City Chiefs might have raised some eyebrows. But for the New York Giants, it was a calculated move to salvage value from what appeared to be a dwindling prospect.
Darren Waller: A Diamond in the Rough
Although Toney did shine occasionally during the Chiefs’ Super Bowl journey, the Giants’ real win was the players they managed to draft with the picks they received.
One of the crucial acquisitions was star tight end Darren Waller, obtained with the third-round pick from the Chiefs. Not only does he come with a modest $4 million cap hit this year, but Waller is also shaping up to be the Giants’ WR1. He’s seamlessly integrated into the Giants’ setup, syncing with quarterback Daniel Jones and providing a much-needed boost to the receiving department.
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Historically, the onus was on Saquon Barkley to shoulder the team’s offensive burden. With Waller on board, the Giants now have a dynamic receiver who can attract multiple defenders, freeing up Barkley and other receivers. His impressive stats from his time with the Las Vegas Raiders – nearly 1,200 receiving yards in 2020 and a career-high of nine touchdowns – speak for themselves.
Though Waller faced injury issues in recent seasons, prompting the Raiders to trade him, he’s been in fine form this preseason. His recent performance against the Carolina Panthers, where he secured three catches for 30 yards, culminating in a touchdown, is a testament to his skills.
Giants’ Rookie Cornerback Tre Hawkins: Another Feather in Schoen’s Cap
However, Waller wasn’t the only success story from the Toney trade. With the Chiefs’ sixth-round pick, the Giants’ general manager Joe Schoen managed to snag Old Dominion cornerback Tre Hawkins. Showing early promise, Hawkins is quickly pushing for a starting spot alongside fellow newcomer Deonte Banks.
Despite playing a mere 24 snaps against Carolina, Hawkins has already impressed the Giants’ coaching staff, so much so that they’re preserving him during the preseason.
Given the Giants’ recent drafting record, having a potential starter like Hawkins, especially from a late-round pick, is a welcome change. This preseason, Hawkins has allowed only 30 yards over six targets, contributing five tackles. Against the Panthers, he showcased his skills both in run defense and in pass coverage, notably shadowing Adam Thielen flawlessly on a route.
Schoen’s Strategic Genius
In a masterful display of strategy, Joe Schoen has converted what seemed like a loss in Kadarius Toney into two potential star players for the Giants. Discovering late-round talents like Waller and Hawkins is no small feat, and the Giants’ future looks brighter with such acquisitions.