I am currently studying for the last final exam of my undergraduate life; this is my (long) study break:
Our New York Football Giants are faced with an embarrassment of riches when it comes to young talent at split end. With all this talent though, comes a problem. Only two wide receivers can start for an NFL team, especially a team like the Giants. Barring injuries, only four or five will truly contribute to a team over the course of a season. Money, individual ambition, or injury could force players we like to leave. Here's my breakdown of the wide receivers:
Hakeem Nicks: He is already a star. Barring injury, he will be a superstar, and the best wide receiver in Giants' history. Now excuse me while I knock on every piece of wood in the library. He has less than ideal speed, elite agility, elite strength for the position, a nose for the endzone, and strong route running skills. Can lose concentration, but makes spectacular catches and is dangerous after the catch. He put on some muscle this off season. I hope it doesn't affect his agility, while making him more durable.
Steve Smith: One of the most reliable receivers in the league. Phenomenal route runner, great agility, very reliable hands and clutch on 3rd down. Defenses have to account for him on 3rd down.Does not have the ability to regularly contribute big plays. We have to wait and see how the knee injury affects him. He will get a one year tender/contract, but it may take longer than that to get back to it, considering how reliant he is on agility. Here's where it gets hard.
Mario Manningham: After losing his starting position to Hakeem Nicks, a player with his purported character issues should have sulked. Despite coming into this season as the third WR on the depth chart, he stepped up when the starters went down. He almost posted his first 1000 yard season despite defenses keying on him. Right now, he is our deep threat and one of the most exciting Giants with the ball in his hands. He is 24 and has shown signs of improvement every year. He probably wants to start and get that big contract.
Ramses Barden: His first two years have been underwhelming at best, but not all WRs explode onto the scene like Nicks. What's worse is he has to sit behind the guy! He showed a little (and I stress a little) bit before getting injured last year. The physical tools are there. Size, leaping ability and hands. He isn't fast and his route running is mediocre. This is his magical third year. Can he displace Manningham and Smith? He may become that redzone guy, but can he be that big play guy?
Jerrel Jernigan: I personally loved this pick. We needed a kick returner, so why not invest in a guy that will play WR for us as well? An unknown quantity right now, but he is the fastest player on the team. I saw Rorschach compare him to the 'other' Steve Smith. I see it. This kid is TOUGH. He takes the lid off of defenses, making life easier for the entire offense. I'm calling it right now, barring injury, Jerrel Jernigan will be a starting WR for the New York Giants.
Domenik Hixon: Poor Domenik. The pick ups of Da'Rel and Jerrel (poetic almost) indicate we were ready to move in a different direction with the return game. If he regains his explosiveness and speed, he'll find a place somewhere else.
Victor Cruz: He flashed in the preseason, but let's emphasize that. It was the preseason. If he wants a spot on the team he has to play on special teams and show us something on the field. It's a great story, but his clock is ticking.
Derek Hagan: Good depth to have. Contributes on special teams. He should never be more than that though.
Michael Clayton: Clearly talented, clearly unsuccessful. He's working out with Eli this summer even though he is technically not on contract. What does that indicate? More often than not, nothing.
Duke Calhoun: Pretty useless. Was supposed to be a good special teams player, but kind of sucked. Not a good WR either.
Samuel Giguere: Again, intriguing. Fast and strong, though not as fast as Jernigan. Probably a practice squad player, though is my pick for a roster surprise. He has the tools to be a good gunner or even a returner.
To sum up, here's what I think will happen to the depth chart over the next few years. I stop at 4, clearly we will probably have 7 or 8 WRs on the roster.
4. Jerrel Jernigan (KR/PR)
PUP: Steve Smith
1. Hakeem Nicks
2. Mario Manningham
3. Steve Smith
4. Ramses Barden/Jerrel Jernigan (depending on field location, package)
1. Hakeem Nicks
2. Mario Manningham
3. Jerrel Jernigan
4. Ramses Barden (A solid #4 though)
Note: I would prefer SS12 to Manningham, both financially, mentally and for what he brings to the field. I just don't see how a player as reliant on agility as he is can be 100 percent after microfracture surgery. Call it pessimism, but knee injuries and football don't mix. If he is 100 percent, Manningham could still win out if he continues to improve.
1. Hakeem Nicks
2. Jerrel Jernigan
3. Mario Manningham
4. (Insert ballin' Jerry Reese draft pick here)
As always, comments and questions are appreciated and encouraged. I know this was long, thanks for reading!