Why the Slide?: Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

Our “Why the Slide” series parallels and grew out our “Why Undrafted” series. The latter was created a number of years ago in response to your questions about why certain well-known prospects went unselected in NFL drafts. For both series, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. The positive response to “Why Undrafted” and questions from readers about why prospects were drafted lower than the media expectations led us to create the parallel series “Why the Slide?”

Both series are back this year. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

The Tennessee Volunteers exploded in 2022 behind a high-powered offense that led them to some huge wins, including an epic game against Alabama. Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker was a point machine, and Hyatt was his top receiver after Cedric Tillman was injured. Hyatt recorded 67 receptions in 2022 for 1,267 yards and 15 touchdowns. He put up a game for the ages against Alabama with six catches for 207 yards and five touchdowns. Some in the media were projecting Hyatt to be a first-round pick, so some fans were left surprised when Hyatt slid to Round 3.

Team sources from around the NFL told WalterFootball.com that Hyatt had received grades on the second day of the 2023 NFL Draft, so they did not feel he actually slid. Thanks to learning from teams that Hyatt was interally graded him on Day 2, I had Hyatt as a second-day selection in my mock draft throughout the months leadingup to the draft. Teams viewed Hyatt as a one-trick-pony deep-speed receiver, and as a result, he was graded on Day 2.

The New York Giants selected Hyatt in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft, which was an excellent landing spot for him. The Giants had a severe lack of talent at receiver in 2022 and have been adding some pieces this offseason to try and improve their weapons for Daniel Jones. Parris Campbell was the organization’s biggest acquisition in free agency, but Campbell has had durability issues.

Hyatt can compete for playing time immediately with the likes of Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins, Sterling Shepard and Wan’Dale Robinson. Hyatt’s limitations might top him out as a No. 3 or 4 receiver, but he could be a contributor in that role. Perhaps Hyatt can develop under pro coaching and become a starter. The Giants have a wide-open depth chart, so Hyatt has a great opportunity to carve out an NFL career.

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