When the Giants drafted Tennessee wide receiver Jalin Hyatt in the third round, there were many that viewed him strictly as a speed-based deep threat. However, through his first offseason with the Giants, he is proving to be far more than that.
“We’re not surprised with his skill set as a route-runner,” said Giants wide receivers coach Mike Groh, joking that the media and NFL analysts were painting Hyatt as a player the team knew he wasn’t.
“He’s instinctive.” He can really think on his feet,” continued Groh. “He really does make good decisions in the passing game, down the field when the picture is changing on him, and not every guy can do that.”
The fact that Hyatt is a well-rounded player shouldn’t come as a shock considering he won The Fred Biletnikoff Award for college football’s most outstanding wide receiver.
En route to winning the award, Hyatt put together one of the best regular seasons by a wide receiver in Tennessee history. He was named first-team All-SEC, broke the school record for receiving touchdowns with 15, and ranked fourth nationally in receiving yards with 1,267.
He also led the SEC in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and receptions. In addition, he led the nation in catches of 30+ yards with 15, catches of 40+ yards with 11, catches of 50+ yards with seven, and catches of 60+ yards with five.
Obviously, that’s because speed is certainly part of his game.
“Yeah, he’s really fast.” laughed Groh. “He eats up the grass pretty quickly.”
However, Hyatt is more than that.
“You know, if you’re just using an old term, like, ‘He’s a track guy playing football,’ well, he’s much more than that. He’s a football player.”
Part of that comes from the exceptional work ethic he has shown the Giants since being drafted.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do,” explained Groh. “He’s worked really hard. He’s humble. He’s hungry.”
The first offseason is a lot for a rookie, so Hyatt attacking it with hunger is certainly a good thing.
“Every rookie that comes in, regardless of position, or the program that came from, there’s a lot thrown at them early,” explained Groh. “It’s just trying to get them caught up on what to do, and then it’s how to do it, and why we’re doing it a certain way.”
He explained the process of learning the NFL playbook like you would learn the lyrics of a song.
“You know, a new song comes on the radio you can kind of know the beat of that song. Listen to it again, you learn the hook, and then keep listening to it, and then you know every word of the song. That’s sort of the process of learning an NFL playbook.”
Except, instead of just embarrassing yourself if you don’t know the lyrics to a song, a slip-up with the playbook can cost your team a game.
“Get lined up and you don’t know where to go, but it’s also, what I got to do, how I got to do it, why I’m doing it that way?” explained Groh. “Whatever the defense does this, what’s the adjustment that I gotta make? You know, there’s a process to that that you can’t really force-feed it. You only get so much time out here on the field and in meetings.”
But so far, Hyatt has made good use of that time and is winning over the Giants’ coaches with his versatile skillset and his mature approach to the game.
If he keeps that up, he might just crack the Giants’ starting lineup too.