Giants rookie Jalin Hyatt flashes speed in training camp

The Giants drafted wide receiver Jalin Hyatt, the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner out of Tennessee, in the third round of this year's draft. Danielle Parhizkaran/USA TODAY Sports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The ball floated to the corner of the end zone, and out of nowhere came New York Giants receiver Jalin Hyatt to make the grab on a beautiful summer Saturday evening.

Hyatt was running alongside cornerback Amani Oruwariye until the rookie wide receiver hit the proverbial turbo button. Before Oruwariye blinked, Hyatt had another touchdown grab that had the fans in attendance at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in a frenzy.

The speedy receiver isn’t coming out of nowhere anymore at Giants camp. He’s been an instant sensation. That was the fourth straight practice he had a long touchdown grab, prompting the fans in attendance to wonder just how he fell to the Giants in the third round. The team seems equally pleased it worked out like that.

“He’s made plays when it’s come his way,” coach Brian Daboll said Monday. “Still got a long way to go, but he’s had a productive few days here.”

The speed that made Hyatt a Biletnikoff winner as the best receiver in college football is allowing him to consistently make plays at the NFL level.

“I don’t want to say it surprises, but I feel like he’s a guy once he’s rolling, he’s rolling…” cornerback Adoree’ Jackson said. “We’ve seen Darren Waller run, it’s like, ‘OK, he’s fast,’ but then when those legs start to churn [with Hyatt] it’s like, ‘OK, he’s going away like a Usain Bolt.’

“I’m not saying he’s Usain Bolt, but I am saying how that stride is … I don’t want to say it’s surprising, being a track guy, seeing the different stride lengths and different runners, but it is very impressive how fluid and smooth he is when he is running.”

Jackson has seen enough wide receivers and runners -- he was a Pac-12 long jump champion and ran 100 meters at USC -- to know Hyatt’s speed is special. It looks different even on a field next to two wide receivers in Parris Campbell and Darius Slayton, who ran sub-4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.

Quarterback Daniel Jones is still trying to get it down.

“I think every guy is different, so … that’s largely what this time and training camp is about -- learning your guys and learning their speed, how they’re coming in and out of breaks, how they’re accelerating,” Jones said. “Yeah, Jalin’s fast, he can run, so try to get [it] out there for him.”

Hyatt and backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor seem to have it down. All but one of Hyatt’s touchdowns in camp have come from Taylor with the second-team offense.

But Hyatt is slowly starting to get more first-team snaps with Jones.

“I’d say all the stuff that we’ve given these guys is based on what they’ve earned,” Daboll said.

That is an encouraging sign for Hyatt, who the Giants were intent to bring along slowly after selecting him 73rd overall out of Tennessee. He was thought to be a raw prospect who ran a limited route tree in college. That contributed to him falling in the draft, even if it didn’t stop him from catching 67 passes for 1,267 yards and a school-record 15 touchdowns last season.

It certainly hasn’t stopped Hyatt from making plays at his first training camp, where he’s made a significant jump from the spring when his work with the first team was basically non-existent.

“Yeah, it definitely feels different,” Hyatt said of getting accustomed to the NFL game. “Just getting a little more time with [Jones] now, and just getting comfortable out there with the starters.

“I think for me, just day by day. That's one thing I want to do, just get better every day. Whatever my opportunities are, whatever the reps are, I'm just going to take advantage of it.”

Now the question is where Hyatt fits with this receiving corps. Waller appears likely to be the No. 1 receiver. He’s been Jones’ favorite target per route run this summer. Isaiah Hodgins and Slayton have worked outside as the first-team wide receivers with Campbell in the slot. Those are expected to be the Week 1 starters.

It appears that the Giants will utilize Hyatt in the way they had in mind for Kadarius Toney before trading him to the Kansas City Chiefs in October. He will be moved around the formation, say, 15 to 20 plays with the idea to get the ball in his hands (as a runner and receiver) to potentially hit some big plays. This will help keep things simple and not overload the young receiver.

“What we want to do, we want to make it easier for [running back] Saquon [Barkley],” Hyatt said. “We don’t want them loading the box where now they have to respect us. I think that’s what we want to get out of this, just make it easier for our running backs. That’s why I’m here.”

But Hyatt is out to prove a point.

“I want to show that I’m a complete receiver,” he said.