The New York Giants might just have found themselves a late-round gem in the 2023 NFL draft. At least based on how cornerback Tre Hawkins III, a sixth-round pick, has been performing at training camp.
Hawkins, the 209th player selected this year, “has been the breakout star of camp,” according to Dan Duggan of The Athletic. Duggan noted how the unheralded former Old Dominion corner has “shown the speed to cover deep routes” and “got significant first-team reps in every practice last week.”
The emergence of Hawkins has also been noticed by other Giants observers, notably defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale. He’s been able to experiment with moving a key veteran into a new position because of Hawkins’ performances.
It’s early days, but the Giants are already getting good returns on the late-round pick they got as part of the trade that sent wide receiver Kadarius Toney to the Kansas City Chiefs last season.
Rookie Prompting Possible Position Switch for Veteran
Hawkins getting more reps has seen Adoree’ Jackson move into the slot, per Duggan. Jackson, 27 is the Giants’ best outside cornerback, but there are merits to moving him inside.
Specifically, those merits involve being able to lock down some of the dynamic slot receivers plying their respective trades within the NFC East. Pass-catchers like Washington Commanders’ duo Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel, along with Dallas Cowboys’ Pro Bowler CeeDee Lamb.
When asked about moving into the slot, Jackson told reporters, “I don’t mind. It’s all about helping the team at the end of the day,” per Giants YouTube (h/t Nick Falato of SB Nation’s Big Blue View).
The Giants would be smart to move Jackson inside, especially for divisional games, but the plan will only work if Hawkins can lock down a spot on the outside. He’s been making plays, but the 23-year-old says he’s “just trying to stay mellow throughout the whole training camp, stay consistent,” per the New York Post’s Jared Schwartz.
Martindale thinks Hawkins is doing things right, telling reporters “he’s had a great camp. A great camp,” per SNY.tv’s Giants Videos.
Although the play-caller also revealed Hawkins has “got a lot of things to work on, just like we all do,” if the late-rounder sees the field as a rookie the Giants can consider themselves genuine winners of the Toney deal.
Rookie Can Change Perception of Kadarius Toney Trade
Up until now, the Giants appeared to get the short end of trading Toney. After all, the wideout went on to win the Super Bowl last season, and he hasn’t been shy about trolling his former team.
Toney’s a multi-faceted playmaker whose talents the Giants were unable to unlock, but there’ll be no need for regrets if the players yielded from trading him make the grade. The early signs are good based on both Hawkins’ development and the performances of the other notable player involved in the deal.
In addition to Hawkins, the Giants used the third-round pick they got from the Chiefs to acquire Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller from the Las Vegas Raiders. Waller has already proved to be a matchup nightmare during camp.
Having Waller gives what was a small-ball passing game last season a mismatch against multiple types of coverage. It’s what Waller’s been showing throughout camp, including on this rep against safety Bobby McCain, highlighted by Bobby Skinner of Talkin’ Giants.
Waller will change the dimensions of this offense, while Hawkins could alter the look of the Giants’ secondary and Martindale’s coverage schemes. Both of those outcomes would make trading Toney one of the best moves general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll have made since taking over in 2022.