NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock calls 2014 "the best wide receiver draft I've seen in years." That is an excellent thing for the New York Giants, because with Hakeem Nicks gone and questions remaining about what Rueben Randle will become the Giants certainly could use help at the position for quarterback Eli Manning.
Let's go through some of the myriad of possibilities. We won't be able to mention all of the 42 players CBS Sports has assigned draftable grades, and out of a personal belief that the Giants need bigger outside targets to complement Victor Cruz, Jerrel Jernigan and Mario Manningham we will focus on players who fit that bigger, stronger physical profile.
Some analysts believe Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans could go off the board within the first four picks of the draft. The dream scenario for the Giants, though, would have to be to somehow see the massive, yet speedy 6-foot-5, 231-pound Evans fall to the No. 12 spot.
In his prospect profile of Evans, Jesse Bartolis calls him "a big target, who can run and make big plays" and adds that he "should also be a better red-zone target than the Giants have had in a while."
Matthew Fairburn of Mocking The Draft calls Evans "the type of receiver who instantly makes his quarterback better."
Evans, though, seems highly unlikely to be available to the Giants.
The First-Round Alternate
Odell Beckham Jr., LSU -- In his look at 'dark horse' candidates for the 12th pick Jesse listed Beckham Jr. as a possible alternative for the Giants. Jesse's post talks about the buzz Beckham Jr. has generated during the pre-draft process. Mock drafters often seem to agree that Beckham Jr. could go to the Giants. Beckham Jr. isn't as big as Evans at 5-11, 198 pounds, but he is generally ranked as the No. 3 wide receiver in the class. He is No. 15 on our Big Board.
There are other first-round possibilities such as Brandin Cooks or Oregon and Marqise Lee of UCLA, but those guys don't fit the mold of the big, outside guy who could develop into a No. 1 guy who would require double teams.
In his prospect profile of Beckham Jr., 'Invictus' calls him a "very similar" player to Nicks, which could well make him attractive to the Giants in the right scenario.
Day 2 Possibilities
CBS has first-round grades on seven wide receivers and potential second-round grades on at least six more. There is, in reality, no telling how NFL teams view these players and which ones might be available for the Giants at No. 43 in the second round or no. 74 in the third round. We do know that the Giants' draft tendency under GM Jerry Reese has been to take wide receivers early, so let's go through some of the players who might interest them on Day 2.
-- Indiana's Cody Latimer is only No. 88 on our Big Board, but he is 6-3, 215 pounds and has been rising throughout the pre-draft process to the point where some analysts think he could be selected late in Round 1 or early in Round 2.
-- Allen Robinson of Penn State is No. 32 on our Big Board. He is 6-3, 220 pounds and draws comparisons to Anquan Boldin, the NFL's ultimate power, possession receiver. In his prospect profile of Robinson, 'Raptor' was effusive:
"He has the upside to become a No. 1 wide receiver if Rueben Randle can't step up and take that role of "X" receiver. If he (Randle) does, Robinson has all the tools to be the second or third receiver who can either feast on 1-on-1's created by defenses rolling coverage to deal with Victor Cruz and Randle, or force teams to respect him and create space for Cruz, the tight end, or running back to work and create after the catch."
-- Donte Moncrief of Ole Miss is a 6-2, 221-pound target who is No. 58 on our Big Board. 'Raptor' says Moncrief has "a combination of deep speed and start/stop ability that is rare in receivers his size. Add that to generally reliable hands and an ability to adjust to the ball."
-- Martavis Bryant of Clemson (6-4, 211) is No. 72 on our Big Board.
-- Kelvin Benjamin of Florida State is the biggest of them all at 6-5, 240. He is No. 40 on our Big Board. The only concern some analysts have with Benjamin is whether or not he can get off the line of scrimmage and get open. If he can't, that makes him Ramses Barden II. If he can, that makes him what the Giants hoped Barden would become. [Prospect Profile]
Day 3 Possibilities
With this being such a deep draft at wide receiver, there should still be options for the Giants on the third day of the draft. Perhaps none of these guys will ever be No. 1 receivers, but there are probably still several players on the board who will have good NFL careers. Let's look at a few options, again focusing on the bigger guys who -- hopefully -- can win contested balls and make catches in traffic.
-- Kevin Norwood is a 6-2, 198-pound receiver from Alabama. The Giants have reportedly visited with him.
-- Jeff Janis (6-3, 219) is an intriguing relative unknown from tiny Saginaw Valley State. He ran a 4.37 40-yard dash. CBS Sports says Janis "has excellent speed and natural athletic traits to be an effective pass-catcher at every level of the field. Janis has impeccable football character and gets the most out of his ability."