This time last year people were talking about Osi Umenyiora having his best years behind him, and even about trading him. But every year, somebody steps up in a way most people don't necessarily see coming to make a real impact or contribution. There are also guys like Hakeem Nicks who breakout and start to fulfill their potential, though a lot of people had predicted that one.
So, if we just assume the roster we have right now is the roster we'll have for the season, what player do you think we'll talk about when the season is over for having stepped up and beaten the expectations or the odds?
Here are some nominees. Vote and say in the comments why you think your guy will be the standout guy.
Ahmad Bradshaw: Can he stay healthy and rush for 1500 yards while fumbling less than three times? If so, he would vault himself into feature back territory. He's shown flashes, but is not there yet.
Da'Rell Scott: Not likely to get a lot of carries, but with his speed, what if he rushes for 500 yards and 4 TD's, making a real rookie year contribution at the 7th pick?
Travis Beckum: This is a critical year for him where he has to establish himself or likely fade. The Giants offense under Gilbride has made little use of him, but on the odd chance they decide to find out how, who knows. Hasn't shown any blocking ability, but he's got pass catching skills. Problem for him is the team has lots of receiving options. Still, he could find utility in play action.
Mario Manningham: He stepped up and played very well when the WR injury bug made him the first option. He could break out with those slinky YAC moves and become a beast. Will he?
Jerrel Jernigan: With Steve Smith questionable to start the season, could he get some slot time and make the most of it? And what if he becomes a feared returner people dread kicking to?
Ramses Barden: It's that critical 3rd year for the big pass target, and he probably has the inside track to claim the slot if Smith is PUP to start the season.
William Beatty: He'll be counted on heavily to hold the edge. Last year he was able to step in and do well on the line when his injury healed and other injuries created opportunity for him. Can he of the zip code caboose break out to become a real force at tackle?
Mitch Petrus: After stepping in late last season and doing well, with this o-line, he could end up seeing lots of playing time. Can he become the new versatile workhorse for this line and earn a staring slot?
Adam Koets: Like Petrus, he stepped in with success last year. Not only that, but he plays the line position most in need of a new stud, with O'Hara coming off serious injury and aging super fast. He should have a real chance to establish himself.
Jason Pierre-Paul: We all know he's a physical freak. Will he become a dominant force at DE in his sophomore campaign? He'll have to fight hard for staring snaps, but if injury creates an opening, he could break out.
Linval Joseph: With Cofield's departure all but certain, he's a sophomore with the best shot to become a serious space eater in the middle. Will he?
Marvin Austin: not the most likely DT to get significant snaps this year, with Canty, Joseph and Bernard ahead of him, but then again, as a rookie rushing 3-tech he could surprise. If he really is a guy with top 15 pick talent, as the Giants claim, it's not impossible.
Clint Sintim: He should have opportunity, and Jerry Reese certainly talks and acts as if he expect Clint to step up. Fans are skeptical. Will he surprise us?
Greg Jones: Personally, I'm not as sold on him as a lot of fans here are, and I don't think he'll get much opportunity, but I know someone will bring him up in the comments, so what the hell.
Adrian Tracy: Who? In all the LB discussion we have, he doesn't get mentioned a lot. But the guy may have real upside, and for me, if I had to pick a sleeper surprise guy out of our LB corps, he's my pick.
Phillip Dillard: I don't think he finds a way to break out of the MLB crowd and supplant Goff, but we have such a wide open LB situation, if we're going to mention 2011 draftees, then he should be on the list too.
Jacquian Williams: No, I don't think he sees much time, just special teams work. Nor am I optimistic about his upside. Hopeful, sure. Optimistic, no. But I know he has his fans, so here he is. If you pick him, make your case!
Prince Amukamara: We've all heard the doubters. Will he step up with shutdown talent and add some INT's in the bargain?
Aaron Ross: Can he live up to that #1 pick? Whether he lost a step last year or was injured, he's not spoken of at the top of the Giants' CB corps. If he has opportunity or gets used better by Fewell, will he open people's eyes again?
Tyler Sash: If Grant leaves town, he could see some real time in Fewell's crazy three safety schemes. A ball hog with great instincts who can hit, he could establish himself if the opportunity is there.