The wide receivers take the field along with the quarterbacks and running backs on Saturday. At first blush, the Giants appear to be set at the wide receiver position. A not-100 percent Odell Beckham finished the season as a top-five, if not the best, receiver in the NFL. Rueben Randle seemed to flip a switch toward the end of the year and Victor Cruz's rehab seems to be on track for a training camp return. There are also several intriguing young receivers on the back of the roster who could step up.
So then, why would the Giants -- and by extension, us -- bother really looking at the receivers at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine?
Well, the first reason is that we have no clue how the first eight picks will actually shake out. It is possible that a receiver will present the best talent and best value for the Giants at their pick. But also, Giants GM Jerry Reese has been known to go next level with his assessment of positional depth.
In the past he has drafted Jason Pierre-Paul when the position's depth looked shaky a year down the line, drafted Linval Joseph a year before Barry Cofield's free agency and Johnathan Hankins a year before Joseph's. There are plenty of other instances where a player was taken at a position where the Giants have depth that year, but looked to lose it in a year or two.
That could be the case once again. Cruz's rehab seems to be on track -- and all the medical texts I have read give him a good chance to return to his former level of ability -- with an injury like his, there are no guarantees. Even GM Jerry Reese said that they aren't putting all of their eggs in Cruz's basket
"[We] gotta prepare as if 'What if Victor [Cruz] doesn't come back?'"
"That's always in the back of your head," Reese continued. "What if this guy doesn't come back and be the player that we think he is?"
Likewise, Rueben Randle is entering a contract year, and all those back-end guys -- Marcus Harris, Corey Washington, Juron Criner, and Chris Harper -- have yet to show that they can truly run with the big dogs.
Looking at the position like that, and the position is hardly set.
For most of the college season and thus far in the draft process Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper has been the top receiver in the draft. However that might be changing. If Cooper happens to fall to the Giants, he would represent a hand-in-glove fit in Ben McAdoo's offense. Cooper brings a good blend of size (6-foot-1, 205), with good speed, and excellent quickness. But what sets him apart from other receivers with those traits is his route running. While not quite as good as Odell Beckham's route running, Cooper has the skills to step in and immediately contribute on every down. For more, check out Invictus' Prospect Profile
The West Virginia product is the guy who is, in some cases, has supplanted Cooper as the top receiver prospect in the draft. While Cooper wins with agility, route running, and body control, White wins with size, physicality at the catch point, and athleticism. The general thought is that while Cooper might contribute more right away, White has a higher ceiling.
The fans voted Teddy Bridgewater the 2014 Rookie Of The Year, and DeVante Parker was his favorite target at Louisville. Parker represents something of a happy medium between Cooper and White. Parker should measure in at somewhere around 6-3, 210 pounds so he has similar size to White, but he also shows advanced route running and solid agility on quick routes. What should really set Parker apart is his absurd catch radius. He reportedly has an 80-inch wingspan -- for reference, JPP has an 81-inch wingspan -- and a 36+ inch vertical.
Other Names To Be Aware Of
Phillip Dorsett (Miami) - Dorsett is predicted to be the latest prospect to challenge Chris Johnson's record for the 40-yard dash. The Giants were seen meeting with him multiple times at the Senior Bowl, and he could provide yet another big play threat for Eli Manning. [Prospect Profile]
Devin Smith (Ohio State) - Another speed demon receiver the Giants were seen meeting with at the Senior Bowl. Smith became one of the premier deep threats in the country when Ohio State was forced to start their third QB, the cannon-armed Cardale Jones. In fact, Smith was second in the country at 27.2 yards per reception, behind only Phillip Dorsett. [Prospect Profile]
Sammie Coates (Auburn) - Coates isn't an automatic fit for the Giants' offense. His route tree is limited, and there isn't much sophistication in his running. But like Dorsett and Smith, he is a speed freak and a home run threat. He ranks fourth in the country in yards per reception, and if big play threats are what the Giants are after, Coates certainly brings that along with a terrific blend of height, weight, and speed.
Breshad Perriman (UCF) - If the Giants really are looking for home-run threats, Perriman could be another guy to keep an eye on. Big bodied (6-3, 215) but with the speed to eat up turf, Perriman has averaged more than 20 yards per catch the last two years.
Nelson Agholor (USC) - If the Giants are looking for an insurance policy on Cruz, then Agholor could be in play in the middle rounds. Agholor has a full route tree and runs it with agility and crispness.
Mike Mayock's Top 5 Receivers
1. Kevin White, West Virginia
2. Amari Cooper, Alabama
3. DeVante Parker, Louisville
4. Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri
5. Devin Funchess, Michigan