WR PreviewThe talent available
As usual there is a handful of top end talent with depth lasting into the third day of the draft and likely to produce future starters fitting into all kinds of offensive schemes and different players appealing to different teams for different reasons.
The Giants like speed and playmaking ability. They like players with the ability to catch the ball downfield on the wide outside and they like guys in the slot who can catch the ball underneath and make big plays after the catch as well as stretching the middle of the field. In terms of size they don’t appear to have a prototype as they have been attracted to guys of all sizes from the likes of Plaxico Burress to Jerrell Jernigan and just about everything in between. The only thing our WR’s have in common is that they have speed and make plays! What do I think the Giants should do?
In Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz the Giants have by far the best 1-2 punch they’ve ever had in the 27 years I’ve been a fan but its notable that with Mario Manningham as the 3rd receiver they also had by far the best 1-2-3 they’ve ever had. Unfortunately, due to salary cap issues the Giants allowed Manningham to leave via free agency leaving Eli with two great weapons but still one short of what he had last year. The 3rd guy has to make the opponent pay for doubling Nicks & Cruz so we can’t afford to take a step backwards by not having an adequate replacement for Manningham, especially considering Ei throws the best deep ball in the entire league...
Jerrell Jernigan was targeted last year in the draft to be our slot receiver but Cruz became that and much, much more and soon developed into an impact starter on the outside in standard 2 WR sets as well. Notably though, when the Giants went to 3 WR sets Cruz moved inside and Manningham took over on the outside. As the saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’. The Giants need to find someone to replace Manningham on the outside not move Cruz to accommodate someone else playing the slot. I find it hard to believe the Giants are going to allow the vital 3rd WR spot to be contested between Jernigan, Ramses Barden and Domenick Hixon without adding someone who offers proven deep down the field playmaking ability. I’d therefore definitely expect a draft pick at the position in the first 4 rounds, possibly even the 1st round if the right player drops into their laps.How will things play out on draft day?
In a ‘passing league’ the importance of WR’s continues to rise so you can expect the top two prospects to come off the board in the first 10-12 picks and then for another 2 players taken before the end of the 1st round, followed by 4 more in the 2nd round and3 more in the 3rd round.
Teams in need of WR’s include Indianapolis, St. Louis, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Carolina, Miami, Buffalo, NY Jets, Cincinnati, Houston & New EnglandThe Top ProspectsJustin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
(6’ 7/8”, 207lb’s, 4.48 speed, 35” VJ)Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
(6 2 5/8”, 220lb’s, 4.43 speed, 36 1/2” VJ) The best ‘fits’Kendall Wright, Baylor
(5’10 1/4”, 196lb’s, 4.56 speed, 38 1/2” VJ) teamed up with Robert Griffin III to blow opposing secondaries away during 2011. Was a fantastic vertical threat either running patterns down the seam from the slot or on the perimeter. Excellent runner after the catch who can turn a little into a lot when cutting across the field on underneath patterns. Drops a few too many catchable balls and despite his ‘hops’ isn’t a guy who wins jump balls in traffic. Not much of a blocker. Carries the ball a bit too loose and will fumble some. Drops some easy balls. Has some ‘diva’ in him on the field. Recent rumours that he has a 16% body fat percentage made me laugh - how can someone with the physique of your average OL vertical jump 38 1/2”? Didn’t run well for the stopwatch but he explodes quickly into top gear and he’s clearly pulling away on long receptions not getting caught from behind. May need some time to adjust to the complexities of the pro game but should have an impact immediately as a deep threat. Mid-late 1st round pick. Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech
(6’4”, 215lb’s, 4.31 speed, 39 1/2” VJ) would be the 1st WR off the board were players drafted purely on their size and athletic prowess as his are ‘off the charts’. Entered as a true junior but hasn’t been very productive at any stage in his career (just 49 career catches) though it must be stated that he played in a triple option offense with a QB that couldn’t throw straight. Two year starter with an eye popping yards per catch career average of just under 25.5! Doesn’t run many routes but gains separation and is a great deep threat who will go up and make plays over his opponent. Exceptional blocker down the field. Very raw but very talented with an immense ‘upside’. I have him ranked as a late 1st round pick but were he to be taken a lot earlier I wouldn’t be at all surprised.AJ Jenkins, Illinois
(6’ 1/4”, 190lb’s, 4.41 speed, 38 1/2” VJ) is a guy I initially underrated but in watching Fighting Illini games primarily to ‘scout’ heralded DE Whitney Mercilus and OT/OG Jeff Allen I found myself liking him. Has the speed to drive DB’s off, find the hole in the zone or come back to the ball. Is a good vertical threat and very dangerous after the catch on crossing routes. Hands catcher - does a good job extending to catch the ball at its high point and well away from his body. Intelligent - did well academically. Has kick return skills. Built a bit frailly so may have some trouble with press coverage initially whilst he fills out a bit. Needs to becomes more physical when battling for jump balls in traffic. Rounds off his routes a bit too much at present. Not much of a blocker. Has the occasional concentration drop but not too many. Immature - butted heads with his coaches throughout his career - so his character may need to be looked into. Late 2nd round pick. Brian Quick, Appalachian State
(6’ 3 1/2”, 220lb’s, 4.55 speed, 34” VJ) is a player I’ve only seen at the Senior Bowl practices and game and on You Tube. Has impressive size, speed and leaping ability but having played at a much lower level of competition he’ll almost certainly take a while to make an impact in the NFL. Four year starter and Team Captain. Improved his productivity each year and still has an ‘upside’. Doesn’t look to me like he’s very elusive but he’s physical and appears to have excellent hands. The Giants were at his Pro Day to check him out so may well have a legitimate interest. I have him ranked as a borderline late 2nd-early 3rd round pick based on the ‘tools’ he has.Chris Givens, Wake Forest
(5’11 1/8”, 198lb’s, 4.39 speed, 33 1/2” VJ) has been labelled a slot receiver by some but I think the exact opposite - though he can make plays on crossing patterns after the catch he is far better utilising his speed on the perimeter. Makes catches over his shoulder deep but appears to short arm the ball a little when facing the QB. Drops way too many catchable passes, especially in traffic. Has both character and injury concerns (tore both ACL’s in High School). The Giants checked him out at his Pro Day so may have some interest but I’d venture it was more likely to have been to complete his grade and rule him out! Probable 3rd round pick.The ‘wild-card’Alshon Jeffrey, South Carolina
(6‘2 7/8”, 216lb’s, 4.49 speed, 36 1/2” VJ) probably generates the the most polarizing opinions of any player in this entire draft. Entered the draft as a true junior but has been heavily knocked throughout the draft process about being overweight last year with detractors claiming he isn’t that fast, isn’t quick in his release, drops too many easy catches, can’t separate and will only be able to ‘win’ on a few few routes against NFL CB’s. Yeah, now that’s said it’s worth noting that he's now in the same shape as he was when he absolutely destroyed top flight SEC opposition in his first two years and is simply too big to stymie at the line of scrimmage, doesn’t need much separation to beat CB’s deep because of his combination of catching radius, huge hands and leaping ability, is tough to bring down after the catch and shows excellent body control on the perimeter. He’s also mentally and physically tough - scored the game winning TD in his final regular season game with a broken hand then playing with a cast on it after surgery broke Cornhusker fans hearts in his farewell performance in the Bowl game (highly rated CB Alfonzo Dennard ended up getting both thrown out after swinging wildly at him several times in sheer frustration at getting beaten like a drum). Lots of questions to answer about how hard he is willing to work in practice but he was a team captain and there is no suggestion he is a bad guy off the field. Was his weight gain a sign of boredom and immaturity? Perhaps. The Giants interviewed him to find that out. ‘Boom or bust’ type but if he’s dedicated to improvement he could be a big star once again just as he was in the SEC earlier in his career. I’ve ranked him as a top 40 pick but he could drift a fair bit on draft day.The top prospects I really don’t wantReuben Randle, LSU
(6 2 7/8”, 210lb’s, 4.57 speed, 31” VJ) has the size and maybe even speed you want at the position but for me he simply doesn’t make enough big plays in big games. Sure there are excuses for that - most top 10 ranked FBS teams have players who can throw better than either of the QB’s he had this past year - but the fact remains that top receivers make their QB’s look far better than they are and he never did that. He’ just doesn’t seem to have any physical skills or the type of elusiveness that marks him out as ‘special’ and he’s a bit of a body catcher. Definitely has an‘upside’ but right now I’d say he was a more than a little overrated. Ranks as no more than a mid 2nd round pick in my view but some analysts have him rated as a late 1st round pick.Mohammed Sanu, Rutgers
( 6’ 1 1/2”, 211lb’s, 4.68 speed, 36” VJ) was hugely productive as a senior but his career yards per catch average and red zone production tells you all you need to know - on 210 receptions he averaged just 10.8 yards and scored just 12 times. Don’t get me wrong, he will have his uses in the NFL - he has flypaper hands, is strong and physical after the catch, can get above defenders to snag the ball and knows how to get open against zone coverage - but he just doesn’t offer even close to the explosiveness I want to see from a player in this offense. I’d consider him a limiting factor in the passing game were he to be drafted by the Giants. Should still go in the late 2nd roundA few mid-round gems
Joe Adams, Arkansas
(5’10 5/8”, 179lb’s, 4.53 speed, 36” VJ) is a better all-purpose player than he is a receiver but was the standout receiver in the Senior Bowl game after a Razorbacks career filled with big plays. Has dynamic punt return skills and offers true home run hitting ability - scored 4 times as a senior. Also averages 9.2 yards per carry on hand-off’s Doesn’t have great hands and didn’t run for the stopwatch even close to the speed he exhibits when you watch him play. Needs to do better releasing against press coverage - struggled to get open against some of the SEC’s better CB’s. Has had some prooblems with coughing up the football when nailed (11 career fumbles) Had a stroke in ’’09 but returned to play soon afterwards. 4th round pick Keshawn Martin, Michigan State
(5’11 1/2”, 188lb’s, 4.43 speed, 39 1/2” VJ) very much played second fiddle to teammate BJ Cunningham but has the athletic ability to become by far the better pro of the two. Not used as a deep threat despite his speed - was thrown to a lot underneath on crossing routes and WR screens as well as getting the odd hand-off on the end around but was a renowned playmaker. Good punt returner. Throws a decent pass on the trick play (8 of 9 for his career). Will need to learn to run routes properly but having shown the ability to cut on a dime and explode off of either foot from a standing start on screens and when returning punts I think he can learn to do it. Ranks as a solid 4th round pickJunior Hemingway, Michigan
(6 7/8”, 225lb’s, 4.51 speed, 35 1/2” VJ) is built a bit more like a RB than a WR with big thick legs but is far from limited to catching passes underneath and running hard after the catch. Will elevate to get the ball in traffic then hold on after the hit. Shows good body control to get his feet down at the back of the end zone or on the perimeter. Has had some durability issues but finally stayed healthy as a senior and averaged 20.6 yards per reception I have the feeling he is one of those players just scratching the surface of his talent having played in an offense that didn’t feature the passing game and with a QB who couldn’t hit a barn door at three paces. Under-rated. Borderline late 4th/early 5th round pickSummary
There is a small possibility that Wright will drop to us but I don’t think we’d take him. I have a gut feeling we’d have a lot more trouble resisting Hill were he to be available with the 32nd pick. Jeffrey is one I like but I’m not sure the Giants will. Available with the 63rd pick he’d give us the dominant size we’ve not had since Plaxico’s heyday so if he interviewed well I wouldn’t be shocked if we took him. I like what Jenkins offers but think the Giants may prefer the size and greater ‘upside’ of Quick. One of the two may well feature in discussions when we’re ‘on the clock’ late in the 2nd round.