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New York Giants 2024 Training Camp Preview: DB Kaleb Hayes

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The New York Giants may have some questions about the offensive and defensive sides of football to answer, but the most intriguing phase of the game will be special teams, where there seems to be a myriad of questions about what the makeup of the units will look like. 

We can expect it to be filled with really athletic pieces. That’s where former Brigham Young University defensive back Kaleb Hayes comes in. He is yet another in a large group of Giants hoping to make enough of an impact to stay on the final roster. 

Hayes’s path to an active roster spot will not be his performance as a defensive back. There are simply too many defensive backs on the roster who will need an abundance of reps throughout training camp and into the preseason for Hayes to have enough time to show he possesses the ability to usurp one of those incumbents. 

Instead, he needs to focus on using his speed and explosiveness to be an effective gunner on the punt team and on kickoffs. Those are the places where he will generate the most opportunities to show what he can do in an unbiased situation more based on meritocracy than anywhere else on the roster. 

In the end, it may not matter how impressive Hayes looks. Although his speed and explosiveness may look attractive, his performance will need to outshine other more established options or guys who may have a much higher team investment if he hopes to crack the roster. 

This is a much more talented roster than it was two years ago, and sneaking on it will be much more difficult than it would have been in 2022. 

It may also be much more difficult to secure a position on the practice squad when you consider all of the talent that will not make this team on both sides of the football. 

Hayes needs to use this opportunity to try to get on the radar of another team or league and hope that if things do not work out with New York, he may have a soft landing elsewhere. 

Height: 6-0
Weight: 195 lbs.
Exp: 1
School: Brigham Young University
How Acquired: FA-23

After going undrafted in the 2023 NFL draft Hayes signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent. He was looked at as a raw defensive back with elite-level athletic gifts after he ran a 4.33 forty-yard dash and recorded a 40-inch vertical jump. He spent the preseason with the Jaguars before he was cut prior to the regular season. 

At the end of August, the Giants signed him and placed him on their practice squad to develop after waiving defensive back Zyon Gilbert. 

Hayes spent the remainder of the season learning so that he could be prepared in case of an emergency. 

That emergency never came, but being in a room full of talent and veterans no doubt helped him grow. In January, he was signed to a reserve/future contract with the team. 

Hayes signed a one-year, $795,000 contract with the New York Giants with no signing bonus, making his cap hit $795,000.

Hayes will need to hit the ground running during training camp to have a chance at success. This receiving corp is out for blood so the defensive backs will be tested every single day. 

It is a great proving ground for a defensive back that not only needs reps but quality reps against high-level competition. Hayes will either sink or swim as a defensive back early in training camp. 

He will look to display his elite-level athleticism during all of the special teams segments of practice. That is where he really has a chance to shine. It is what will keep him around training camp longer than other defenders who do not bring value as a special teamer. 

His presence on special teams will hopefully provide him with opportunities to perform in preseason games where he can receive heavy reps on defense in the second half of games. That should provide him with fresh film to use if he does not make the final roster. 

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