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Positional Reviews: Wide Receiver ... This Sure Is A Long List

<strong>Mario Manningham</strong>. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Mario Manningham. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Wide receiver is next up on our list of New York Giants off-season positional reviews. If they can just stay healthy, the receiver position is not a problem on this football team.

Hakeem Nicks: Finished with a team-leading 79 receptions for 1.052 yards and 11 touchdowns in just 13 games. I think there is little doubt that Nicks is growing into one of the league's premier wide receivers. The 11 touchdowns not only led the Giants, but tied him for fourth in the league. There are still some rough edges in Nicks' route-running and reading of defenses, but there are Pro Bowls in his future. Grade: 'Kudos'

Steve Smith: Played just nine games this season thanks to a pectoral injury and then a tricky knee injury that has Smith facing a lengthy rehab. Since he can also be a free agent this summer, it will also cost him a ton of money. His production was down slightly from a season ago even when he was healthy as the Giants began going to Nicks more often. Smith caught 48 balls, however, and is still a vital part of the Giants offense. The Giants did poorly on third down this season, and that is an area where Smith excels. Let's hope Smith recovers sooner rather than later, and that the Giants lock him up. Grade: Kwillie

Mario Manningham: By the end of the season, he was the last man standing when it came to the Nicks-Smith-Manningham troika of weapons for Eli Manning. Even without Smith or Nicks, and facing double teams at times for the first time in his career, Manningham was still finding ways to make big plays. His route-running and decision-making can still sometimes make you shake your head, though not as often as it did a season ago. Manning completed 69.8 percent of the passes he threw to Manningham this season, so the third-year player took advantage of his opportunities. He finished with a career-high 60 catches for 944 yards and nine touchdowns. Grade: Kudos

Derek Hagan: For the umpteenth time, can someone tell me why Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin chose to cut Hagan loose at the start of the season? When they needed a healthy veteran receiver mid-season they were incredibly lucky no one had grabbed Hagan, and that he had stayed ready. In seven games, Hagan grabbed 24 passes, the second-highest total of his career. It wasn't always perfect -- the time he spent away from the Giants showed in some communication issues with Manning -- but Hagan did an outstanding job overall. The Giants will be loaded at the receiver position heading into camp in 2011, and if they again choose not to keep Hagan I have little doubt he will quickly find a job this time around. Grade: Kudos

Ramses Barden: Just when it looked like opportunity was about to knock for the second-year receiver, he broke his ankle trying to haul in a pass that could have been a touchdown. Everything you heard about the 6-foot-6, 230-pounder this season was that he had made progress. When it was his time, and he had an opportunity to show it, he went down. I still have optimism that Barden can find a role with this team. Grade: Kwillie

Duke Calhoun: If it wasn't for the total ineptitude of Darius Reynaud, my vote for the Giants Least Valuable Player in 2010 would go to Calhoun. What made the Giants believe Calhoun was an NFL player is something I am still trying to figure out -- I haven't seen any evidence of it yet. Grade: Wet Willie

Really not enough to go on to grade Victor Cruz, Michael Clayton or Devin Thomas.