The 2023 NFL Draft has come and gone. And it was a great weekend to be a Giants fan.
General manager Joe Schoen used his original 10 picks to his advantage, formulating trade-ups for guys they liked while focusing on three huge needs very early.
Some thoughts on how the Giants crushed this year’s draft:
- Round 1, Pick 24: Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland
There was a run on receivers from picks 20-23 that saw Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Quentin Johnston, Zay Flowers, and Jordan Addison find teams. That could’ve affected the Giants’ decision at No. 24, but regardless, they made the right choice focusing on the secondary. Even if they had to move up one spot to do so.
Adoree’ Jackson is set to start on one of the boundaries but only has a year left on his contract. And there are various question marks on the other boundary — Aaron Robinson, Cor’Dale Flott, and Rodarius Williams are all unproven.
While Banks may not start right away (we’ll see what training camp and the preseason bring), the Giants needed someone who could be a star in this secondary for years. Especially in a division that includes quarterbacks Dak Prescott and Jalen Hurts, the latter of whom just signed a five-year, $255 million extension.
- Round 2, Pick 57: John Michael Schmitz, C, Minnesota
- Round 3, Pick 73: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee
This is when Schoen shined over the weekend.
Teams seemingly weren’t as high on these receivers as the media was, so waiting until the third round to land one was the right move. Schoen should’ve always focused on the interior offensive line in the second round, and that’s exactly what he did. And he may have lucked out in the process.
Schmitz wasn’t expected to drop that far, so the fact the Giants landed him at No. 57 was a blessing. The Minnesota product is a plug-and-play center and may already be a better option than Ben Bredeson, the Giants’ previous penciled-in starter.
Following an up-and-down rookie campaign by right tackle Evan Neal plus the unknowns surrounding guard Josh Ezeudu, the Giants couldn’t enter the season with additional unanswered offensive line questions. So this was a great move.
Schoen then used two draft picks to trade up 16 spots to acquire Hyatt. While teams still undergoing rebuilds (yes, including the Giants) shouldn’t be giving up draft picks, this move was an exception. The Giants loved Hyatt and didn’t need all six of their remaining picks in a rather weak draft.
Hyatt could be the team’s WR3 immediately. Especially given the uncertain futures of Sterling Shepard, Jamison Crowder, and Jeff Smith, none of whom are guaranteed a final roster spot.
- Round 5, Pick 172: Eric Gray, RB, Oklahoma
- Round 6, Pick 209: Tre Hawkins, CB, Old Dominion
- Round 7, Pick 243: Jordon Riley, DT, Oregon
- Round 7, Pick 254: Gervarrius Owens, S, Houston
The Giants and running back Saquon Barkley are in the midst of a contract stalemate. But the drafting of Oklahoma running back Eric Gray shouldn’t indicate much. Regardless of Barkley’s future, the Giants needed to fill out the running back room. There aren’t many reliable options behind Barkley and Matt Breida — Gary Brightwell is a special teamer while Jashaun Corbin is a practice squad guy.
Hawkins, Riley, and Owens might not even make the final roster. But it was clear these were selections made with roster depth in mind. You can’t have enough defensive backs in a passing league and defensive line depth has been an issue for a while. Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams took 82% and 75% of the defensive snaps last year, respectively. The coaching staff can’t let that happen again in 2023.