We’re all excited to see what guys like Giants corner Deonte Banks, receiver Jalin Hyatt, and Jets defensive end Will McDonald can bring to the table in their rookie year. So much so that we almost forget there are a few Day 3 picks who could actually make year-one impacts.
Let’s discuss four under-the-radar rookies who can make good impressions in the Big Apple this season.
Giants RB Eric Gray. Big Blue addressed the deep end of the running back depth chart by taking Gray in the fifth round. And while he won’t be the team’s top back his rookie year, the opportunity is still there for Gray to make an impact.
Whether it’s on the franchise tag or a new contract, Saquon Barkley will be on the roster and atop the depth chart. But that won’t shut the door on head coach Brian Daboll utilizing two-running back sets and implementing Gray’s pass-catching skills. The Oklahoma product caught 33 balls in 12 games for the Sooners last season.
Barkley isn’t prone to a midseason decline either — we saw it with our own eyes last year. So there’s a chance Gray assumes more opportunities down the stretch, especially if he gets a good grasp of the offense.
Giants CB Tre Hawkins. The Giants are nearly set at the two boundary cornerback spots and in the slot. Veteran Adoree’ Jackson and rookie first-rounder Deonte Banks will start on the outside with either Darnay Holmes or Nick McCloud at the nickel spot.
But the cornerback depth isn’t all that promising. Aaron Robinson, Cor’Dale Flott, and Rodarius Williams haven’t proven anything and Amani Oruwariye could be a preseason cut.
The Giants saw enough from Hawkins, having used their sixth-round pick on the Old Dominion product in the draft. While he doesn’t have an inside track on any starting job, Hawkins isn’t exactly competing with Deion Sanders for reserve reps. So he could certainly find time if he strengthens his man-coverage skills in Wink Martindale’s defense.
Jets OT Carter Warren. We recently wrote about how the Jets are entering the 2023 campaign with various issues at offensive tackle. This comes after the team missed out on each of the worthy tackles in the first round.
Mekhi Becton has played just one game in the last two years due to knee injuries and Duane Brown underwent rotator cuff surgery at the end of last season. Neither are practicing at OTAs. Besides that, Billy Turner could be a preseason cut while 2022 fourth-rounder Max Mitchell hasn’t proven enough to be a concrete starter.
If injuries arise — and we’ve seen them before with this group — it could open the door for Warren to ascend the depth chart. Perhaps he becomes the team’s top reserve swing tackle at some point?
Jets DB Jarrick Bernard-Converse. The Jets have arguably the best starting cornerback duo with Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed manning the two boundary spots. Plus a young, promising Michael Carter II in the slot. But the depth is weak, with Bryce Hall (zero starts since 2021), Craig James (one career start), and Jimmy Moreland (zero starts since 2020) on the roster.
Bernard-Converse, a sixth-rounder out of LSU, could become one of the team’s top reserve cornerbacks (or even get notable reps in the slot) if he impresses early.