Normally at this time of year we would be covering the beginning of training camp from a football perspective, rather than a COVID-19 perspective. Yet, with the virus leading to a rash of player opt outs and dominating the sports headlines nothing is normal.
We won’t have regular football practices to dissect for a few more weeks. So, we are still — from a football-writing viewpoint, sort of in offseason mode.
With that in mind, I thought that over the next couple of weeks we would do position-by-position previews. We have talked about many of these positions and all of the players ad nauseum over the past few months. We will try to approach this a little differently, though.
This is going to be a “better or worse than 2019?” series. We will try to examine whether or not the Giants have gotten better or worse at the position being studied, and we will offer you a poll at the end to determine how fans feel entering the 2020 season.
Let’s start with wide receiver.
Key losses: Cody Latimer, Bennie Fowler, Russell Shepard
Key additions: Corey Coleman, UDFAs Austin Mack, Derrick Dillon, Binjimen Victor
After an offseason that saw the Giants, perhaps surprisingly, not add any wide receivers in the draft or spend significant free agent dollars in an effort to upgrade the position the common question has been whether or not the Giants have enough play-making talent at this position.
The Giants’ Big 3 at receiver — Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Darius Slayton — remain the same. Cody Core, a key special teams player who was rarely used on offense, should be one of the reserves. Corey Coleman, returning from a torn ACL, would appear to be an odds-on favorite for a roster spot. Mack, Dillon, Victor and holdovers Alex Bachman and David Sills V are also fighting for roster spots.
Why the Giants might be better
Health and availability — hopefully — and experience.
Shepard, who dealt with a pair of concussions, played in only 10 games while leading the Giants with 57 receptions. Tate, acquired via free agency before last season, missed the first four games due to a suspension for violating the league performance-enhancing drug policy. Slayton, a fifth-round pick in 2019, missed most of the preseason and training camp, as well as two games, with hamstring issues. He ended up catching an impressive 48 passes, 31 in the final seven games when he, at times, looked like a potential game-breaking front-line receiver.
If Slayton continues his upward arc, and Shepard and Tate are able to stay on the field, the Giants have a quality top three at receiver. Even if none of them is a true No. 1 receiver.
Coleman has never lived up to the hype of being the 15th player picked in the 2016 NFL Draft. If he hasn’t lost a step after his ACL injury, though, his speed (4.37 40-yard dash at the 2016 Combine) could provide big-play ability Fowler, Latimer and the other reserve receivers did not possess a season ago.
Why the Giants might be worse
There is no guarantee Slayton will improve. He did catch more than 20 percent of his passes (10) in one game vs. the New York Jets.
Shepard is one concussion away from perhaps having to make a decision about his football future. Tate, 32 in a few days, is going to eventually lose just a little of the quickness that has helped make him such a good player. Coleman is fast, but might not really be any good. There are a lot of young, unproven players who might only prove that they don’t belong in the league.
Yes, if the Giants can stay reasonably healthy at the receiver position I think they will be better than they were a year ago. It’s a fragile group, though, and any major injury or illness outbreak could have disastrous consequences for Daniel Jones and the Giants’ passing game.
Are the Giants better or worse at wide receiver than they were in 2019?
This poll is closed