What is New York Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle? A still-improving player on the verge of stardom? A good player who will tease with flashes of greatness? An immature kid who is good, but should be better? An inconsistent player who can be brilliant one minute and bone-headed the next? All of the above?
Let's look at Randle as we continue our series of player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp in a few short weeks.
2014 Season in Review
In his third NFL, the 2012 second-round pick had a productive year. He finished with 71 catches for 938 (13.2 yards per catch) and three touchdowns. He averaged 58.6 yards receiving per game. Randle has three 100+ yard receiving games, including six-catch, 132- and 158-yard games to finish the season. He also had a seven-game stretch in the middle of season during which he caught 39 passes, no fewer than four in any of those seven games. That's the good side.
Now, for the bad side. Randle was twice suspended for the first quarter of games by head coach Tom Coughlin -- apparently for being late to team meetings. He had a game where he totaled a single receiving yard, and another in which he had just one catch for nine yards.
Overall, the numbers say it was an excellent year for Randle. He has progressed in each of his three seasons -- from 19 receptions as a rookie, to 41 in 2013 and 71 last season.
Despite those numbers, Randle's 2014 season feels unsatisfying. It feels like he should have been able to do more. Like we should have seen more of the player who caught 12 passes for 290 yards (24.2 yards per catch) over the final two games, and less of the player who was inconsistent on the field and couldn't always follow Coughlin's rules off of it.
2015 Season Outlook
This depends on which Randle shows up. Will we get the determined, dominant guy who was tremendous during the finals two games of 2014? Will we get the guy who seems to disappear sometimes and still doesn't always feel like he is always a dependable target for Eli Manning? Will we get a matured Randle, or will we get a guy who still doesn't always put his best foot forward?
Randle is 24 now. He is entering his fourth season. His talent is obvious. He isn't Odell Beckham Jr., but he can be a force. He can be something akin to what Hakeem Nicks was for the Giants when he had a combined 155 catches in 2010 and 2011, a big, strong receiver who can make catches in traffic and make things happen once he catches the ball. Can he give the Giants that kind of effort and production week-in and week-out?
Wide receivers coach Sean Ryan thought Randle made progress during the spring.
"I thought Rube did a nice job. He is another guy that he is a really intelligent football player," Ryan said. "The game makes sense to him, and things happen for him. He processes stuff really quickly and I think the more tape he watches and the more practice snaps he gets, the quicker that stuff happens for him and the quicker reactions he makes and I would say that is really what has shown up to me. The more football he plays, the better he gets. He sees things very quickly."
Will Randle finally become a consistent weapon for the Giants in 2015? Or, will he continue to tease? With Beckham, Victor Cruz, tight end Larry Donnell and the threat of running back Shane Vereen as a receiver out of the backfield, the opportunity is there for Randle to see -- and win -- one-on-one matchups consistently.
Let's see if he can take advantage of it.