Most incoming rookies need time to understand who the New York Giants’ rivals are.
But Jalin Hyatt is faster than most incoming rookies.
The coach questioned Hyatt’s ability during an episode of NFL Films’ “Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NFL” — and Giants fans should love Hyatt’s response.
Hyatt addressed the viral video at Giants minicamp, saying the criticism is “in the past now.”
“It didn’t bother me at all,” Hyatt told reporters on May 5. “Coaches and — a lot of people have their own opinions on things, and I respect the Cowboys’ receiver coach, met with him when I went up to one of my (top) 30 visits… I have a lot of respect for him.”
Teams didn’t reciprocate Hyatt’s respect during the pre-draft process, though.
He’s the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding collegiate receiver. Previous winners of that award include Philadelphia’s DeVonta Smith, Cincinnati’s Ja’Marr Chase, and Cleveland’s Amari Cooper — all current stars in their craft.
Hyatt also racked up 1,267 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in his last season in Knoxville. He was considered by many draft experts to go in round one, including NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein and The Draft Network’s Joe Marino.
But Hyatt still dropped to Big Blue in third round — and gained a little motivation for future matchups with teams like the Cowboys in the future.
“Any team I go against, that’s going to spark me,” Hyatt told reporters on May 5. “I’m in the NFL now, and I’m here with grown men. I can’t wait to just go out there and play. It doesn’t matter what team it is.”
Still, circle both Cowboys games if the Giants’ schedule drops on May 11, as NBC Sports’ Peter King expects. And don’t be surprised if Hyatt enters both matchups with a little extra desire to showcase the route-running skills Dallas questioned.
Giants Coach Brian Daboll Not Concerned With Jalin Hyatt’s Ability
Hyatt told reporters at Giants rookie minicamp that he’s glad the draft process is out of the way.
So are the coaches who can’t wait to utilize his full skill set.
Coach Brian Daboll pieced together pass-catching options for Daniel Jones during last year’s playoff run. Big names like Kenny Golladay were benched. Unknowns like Isaiah Hodgins became starters. And injuries took away options like Sterling Shepard and Wan’Dale Robinson.
Hyatt’s speed can help fix Pro Football Focus’ league-slowest receiving corps. But Daboll doesn’t see any red flags about the other parts of Hyatt’s game.
“I’m good with (Jalin’s route-running),” Daboll told reporters on May 6. “Again, yeah, he’s been asked to do certain things. He’s had a couple different coaches in college. Again… (he) did everything we asked him to do, and each day we’ll build off that.”
Daboll knows Hyatt can run vertically after watching his Tennessee tape. The other branches of Hyatt’s route tree can be coached.
Hyatt said he’s not taking any route-running criticism to heart in the meantime.
“I came from Tennessee’s offense, which I had fun in, learned a lot of new things in that offense and now coming into this offense learning more new things,” he said during rookie minicamp. “But at the end of the day I’m a football player. I can play any offense and I’m just glad I’m here.”
Jalin Hyatt ‘Absolutely’ In Mix For Giants Punt Returner Job
Daboll is already scheming ways to get Hyatt the football.
One option: Use Hyatt as the punt returner, a spot vacated by the free-agent departure of receiver Richie James.
“Absolutely,” Daboll told reporters when asked if Hyatt would be in the punt returning mix. “We’ll put as many guys back there as we can to figure that one out.”
Cornerback Darnay Holmes is the team’s current projected punt returner, according to Ourlads’ Giants depth chart. But Hyatt could overtake Adoreé Jackson as the projected backup after Jackson suffered a key injury returning a punt last season.
Hyatt’s speed could also be useful as a punt gunner or as a kick returner, where reserve running back Gary Brightwell is the projected starter.
Said Hyatt: “My only focus now is getting better, learning my new teammates, learning the coaching staff here, learning the playbook and just going out there when my opportunity presents itself.”