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New York Giants position breakdowns: Wide receiver

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It is time to begin position-by-position breakdowns for our New York Giants, and I am going to start with the offense. I figure that by the time I get to the defensive unit the Giants might have a defensive coordinator in place, and that could affect the analysis.

My goal is to run one of these each day until they are done, though breaking news and other events might change that.

I will give you some thoughts on each position, and at the end I will give you thoughts on who to keep, who to dump and a draft/free agency priority. In terms of priority, 1 will be highest and 5 will be lowest.

Let's begin with an easy one -- wide receiver.

We spent all of last off-season worrying that the Giants did not have reliable, play-making targets on the outside for Eli Manning. Remember all those calls to trade for Anquan Boldin? Braylon Edwards? Brandon Marshall? All that debate over which receiver to draft?

Turns out, we need not have worried so much. Amazingly, and I think inarguably, the group of young wide receivers General Manager Jerry Reese assembled was the Giants' unit that performed the best during the 2009 season.

If this group can stay healthy it very well might go down as the best group of wide receivers the Giants have ever had.

Steve Smith, of course, became the No. 1 target Eli needed. His 107 catches blew away the franchise's single-season record. He is a third-down machine, simply uncoverable on short and intermediate routes.

Hakeem Nicks will, I think, go to several Pro Bowls in his career if he stays healthy. He caught 47 balls in 14 games, and showed great ability to make plays once he got the ball in those huge hands. He averaged an impressive 16.8 yards per catch.

Mario Manningham had his ups and downs, but was exciting and impressive overall. He caught 57 balls, and he should continue to improve.

Domenik Hixon had just 15 catches, as he was more or less pushed aside by Nicks and Manningham. He is a good player, though, and I would love to see the Giants keep him. Same for Derek Hagan, whose special teams abilities can't be discounted.

Sinorice Moss? Let's quit wasting our time with this guy.

Last but not least, Ramses Barden. Had no impact on the 2009 season, a surprise to many of us who saw him in training camp. I have little doubt, though, that the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Barden will push his way into the top four receivers in 2010.

So, when it comes to this group there is an awful lot to feel good about.

Keep: Smith, Nicks, Manningham, Hixon, Barden, Hagen.

Dump: Moss.

Draft/Free Agency Priority: 5

(E-mail Ed at bigblueview@gmail.com)