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No No. 1? Not enough proven depth? Giants shrug off wide receiver questions

“I think we’re all capable of making plays.”

Sterling Shepard hauls in a pass during practice this week.
Matthew Swensen []

The questions keep being asked. Do the New York Giants, without a true No. 1 wide receiver, have enough play makers in the passing game? With mostly unproven and unknown players fighting for spots behind Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, will the Giants have enough depth?

Tate, a 10-year veteran with 660 career NFL receptions, said this week that Giants’ receivers aren’t concerned about the “we don’t have a No. 1” narrative.

“I haven’t heard anything like that being said. I’m not sure any of our guys even listen to it,” Tate said. “We show up with one purpose every day and that’s to get better to help our team win. Honestly, we don’t have time to listen to the outside stuff. Everything is so intense right now with trying to learn the playbook, learn the standard of play. We’re all excited about each other.”

When asked about, Shepard wasn’t having the “you can’t be good enough without a No. 1 guy” narrative, either.

“I think we’re all capable of making plays. I think the only thing that’s important, when it all boils down, is that can you trust the guy to make a play. I think we have three guys that are able to do that,” Shepard said. “Another guy who you forgot to mention is Evan Engram. He’s basically a wide receiver playing the tight end position. I think we have a lot of guys who can make plays. I don’t think we’re focused on putting a number on any of us.”

Slayton, a second-year player considered the receiver with the most as-yet untapped potential, said recently that the offense being designed by coordinator Jason Garrett has “a really good chance to be explosive.”

“I think the offense does a really good job holistically of getting everyone involved,” Slayton said. “Everybody will have a chance to get the ball and have the opportunity to make plays.”

What does head coach Joe Judge think of his Big Three wide receivers?

“Listen, I’ve played against those guys before. Golden’s a really good competitor, he’s a tough dude. I’m glad to have him on our team. Sterling brings a lot of athleticism, he brings a lot of juice to practice. It’s fun watching these guys open up. Just watching how Darius has developed from his rookie year and the advancement he’s making this year with playing a little bit faster in decision-making, that’s really the enjoyable part right there,” Judge said.

What about the depth?

Da’Mari Scott opted out of the 2020 season. Cody Core just went on injured reserve with a torn Achilles tendon. Corey Coleman is the only other receiver with significant NFL experience. Coleman, though, has yet to come close to justifying being a 2016 first-round pick, plus he is coming back from a torn ACL. So, he is a question mark.

The rest? A collection of undrafted free agents, former practice squad players and waiver wire claims.

Could there be a gem or two out of that group? Perhaps.

“I’ve been impressed with the ability these young guys have been able to learn the material but also apply it on the field,” Tate said. “These young guys haven’t gotten OTA’s and the offseason work, we’ve only had Zoom. For those guys to be able to digest all that stuff and actually go out and perform on the field, I’ve been impressed.

“In my opinion, this is a really good class of young receivers coming in that I’m excited about to help grow.”

Judge, in his typical style, wouldn’t name anyone when asked about the young receivers. He focused instead on how they are working.

“That whole crew of young guys, we have a number of them. We have a number of guys who just joined our roster in the last week or so. What we’re seeing with them right now is daily improvement,” Judge said. “What we’re seeing with them in pads is the physical nature to get down and do the dirty things that we’re asking them to do. To block every down, to dig out those down safeties, to go in there and mix it up, to have ball security through contact. They’re doing a really good job forcing that. They’re leaning the system the best they can.”

David Sills V beats Grant Haley on a deep ball.
Matthew Swensen []

Let’s name names

C.J. Board was a recent waiver claim from the Jacksonville Jaguars. He made the best two catches of the day on Monday when yours truly was in attendance. He played in four games with two receptions last season for Jacksonville.

Austin Mack, Derrick Dillon and Binjimen Victor were all signed by the Giants as undrafted free agents shortly after the draft. It doesn’t seem at this point that any one of the three has really jumped to the forefront.

David Sills V and Alex Bachman were Giants’ practice squad players a year ago. Bachman might be an option as a slot receiver and Sills has intriguing size at 6-foot-3, 211 pounds.

Perhaps we will know more about how Judge and the coaching staff see this crew of young wide receivers after Friday’s intrasquad scrimmage.