Despite being the fourth player picked by the Giants in the 2009 draft, Ramses Barden was possibly the most talked about and hyped prospect at last years off season training camp. A physical freak with the name of a Pharoah, he wowed onlookers with his size and raw physical ability, and made a number of remarkable catches that had fans salivating at the thought of Eli lobbing passes to him in the end zone. Then, the regular season happened, and Barden only caught one pass for 16 yards in the three games that he played. Reality set in for the 3rd round pick out of the small school, who had trouble understanding the Giants play schemes and keeping up with the pace of the NFL, and his name has slipped off the radar a bit.
Ralph Vachianno profiles Barden, and the outlook is pretty good: "Maybe it'll all turn out to be a big tease again, but there does seem to be a genuine excitement about what Barden may be able to do for the Giants this season. Heading into their full-team minicamp this week, he has drawn nothing but praise from the coaching staff for how far he's come during the offseason program. And he's back to making his usual dazzling plays on the field.
The difference this time is that, according to Barden, things are happening more slowly for him. Last year he relied almost exclusively on his size and his athletic ability. This spring he's played with a better understanding of what's happening around him on the field."
If it's true that Barden is ready to play in an NFL offense, the Giants should be more loaded at the wide receiver position than at any point in franchise history, and would have to be ranked towards the top of the league in terms of receiving talent. Steve Smith has established himself as a star who will make every big catch, but he lacks the after-the-catch explosiveness that keeps a defense on its toes. For that, though, there's Mario Manningham, who is prone to drops but is explosive with the ball. As a rookie, Hakeem Nicks looked like he was well on his way to become the best all around receiver on the team, with a healthy mix of good hands and great after the catch ability, with some size thrown in. And then there's Barden, who has the physical skills to instantly become one of the premier red zone threats in the NFL. Of course there's also Domenik Hixon, who a year ago was supposed to be the Giants #1 receiver. Football is played on the field for a reason, and the Giants are going to need the defense and the run game to rebound to be legitimate contenders, but on paper, that at the very least looks like a receiving corps that's going to be very, very fun to watch.
- Paul Schwartz of the NY Post profiles the perpetual Manning backup, Jim Sorgi.
- Ed's radio partner and writer at InsideFootball, Pat Traina, writes that there's "no doubting Terrell Thomas."
- Michael Eisen writes about the Giants two new position coaches.
- Vinny DiTrani previews the NFC East
- The NY Post reports that adultery-supporting "dating website" AshleyMadison has offered $25 million over 5 years for the naming rights to the New Giants Stadium. Personally, I think this is a publicity stunt non-story. I think there's literally no chance that the Giants & Jets would accept this offer, even if it was the best offer out there (which it likely won't be), but the website new the press would pick this up and give them some free advertising. That said, it's in the news, and I think it's a funny/sad commentary on American society, both that this website exists and that naming rights to a stadium have become such a big deal.
- Finally, FromtheRumbleSeat is in round 2 of its "Best Sport City" tournament, and New York is facing off against Dallas. Once again, I'm not necessarily suggesting we spam their poll, but let's be honest, there's NO WAY New York should lose to Dallas. So do your patriotic duty and vote so those heathen Cowboy fans won't have anything to hold over our heads.