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Daily NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Mardy Gilyard, WR, Cincinnati

[Remember to check the '2010 NFL Draft' section for all stories relating to the draft.]

I actually find this pretty amazing. After spending almost the entire off-season a year ago discussing the New York Giants wide receiver situation (you know we did it nearly every day) barely a word has been uttered about the receivers this time around.

That is an amazing testament to the work done by Jerry Reese in drafting wide receivers, and the Giants as a staff in developing them. Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham could be an exciting, play-making trio for years to come. Maybe Ramses Barden will take steps toward joining them in 2010.

The position is now such an after-thought when it comes to thinking about how to improve the Giants in 2010 and beyond that not one of the prospect profiles I have done in anticipation of the draft has been about a wide receiver.

I figured, though, that maybe that should change. So, today's Daily NFL Draft Prospect Profile will focus on Cincinnati wide receiver/kick returner Mardy Gilyard.

Gilyard is a 6-foot, 187-pound big-play threat any time he gets the ball in his hands. He might never be more than a third or fourth receiver with the Giants, and he might be similar to Domenik Hixon. Gilyard averaged 28.6 yards per kickoff return at Cincinnati, though, so those return skills alone might intrigue a team like the Giants that always seems to struggle in the return game.

Besides, even if you don't like Gilyard as a prospect for the Giants the back story of how he overcame a troubled, abusive past is uplifting to read about.

So, let's take a closer look.

Mardy Gilyard Scouting Reports

From Draft Countdown.

Super smooth athlete ... Good height ... Exceptionally quick ... Fast with excellent acceleration ... Explosive with a burst ... Terrific feet and change of direction skills ... Soft, reliable hands ... Nice body control and ball skills ... Extremely elusive and a real terror in space ... Superb vision ... Shows the ability to separate ... Tough and not afraid to work the middle ... Also a fantastic return man.

Needs to add weight and bulk up ... Isn't real strong ... Not a polished route runner ... Struggles to beat the jam ... Might have some character issues ... Durability is a concern.

as displayed a lot of perseverance and by all accounts he learned from past mistakes and matured ... Dealt with a series of nagging ankle injuries ... Averaged 28.6 yards on 93 kick returns with 4 touchdowns during his career and also returned 22 punts for an 11.8 average and 1 touchdown ... A versatile all-around weapon and dynamic playmaker who truly is a threat to score each and every time he touches the ball.

From SB Nation's Mocking The Draft.

After a troubled past and a rough start to his career at Cincinnati that started off as a defensive back and suspension due to academic shortfalls, Gilyard broke out in 2008 as a dynamic play-maker that could do it all with the ball in his hands. His reputation coming in to the league will revolve around his ability to return kicks and punts to the house (5 TDs over the past 2 seasons) but unlike many other return specialists, Gilyard’s promise as a receiver is very high. Despite the lack of top end speed, Gilyard is a threat down the field because of his ability to make the difficult catch with a cover man draped all over him. He will do most of his damage as a short and intermediate receiving option because he can find the tight windows and make those tough catches. Once he has the ball in his hands, all bets are off as he will prove to be a threat to score every time. He has an awkward running motion and will need to strengthen his lower half before he is fully ready to contribute every down, but the intangibles are there and he is a free spirit that loves the game. He will likely be a 2nd-3rd rounder that pays immediate dividends as a returner and offers the upside as a complimentary receiver in the future.

Why Gilyard fits with the Giants

Those return skills. I love Hixon and I think he is a quality return man. But, are you satisfied with the way the Giants have returned kickoffs the past couple of seasons? I'm not, and you have to be intrigued by guys who might have the ability to be difference-makers there. Besides, in this era of the 'NFL/Arena-style football' the more weapons you have on offense the better.

Why the Giants should pass

Because they are flush with receiving talent. They couldn't even get Barden on the field in 2009, so how does Gilyard find his way on to the roster? If the Giants are looking for an explosive return threat they might be better served to find a running back with that skill.

(E-mail Ed at Follow Big Blue View on Twitter.)