5 New York Giants Who Could Surprise in 2012
Now that the 2012 NFL draft has concluded, football fans are one step closer to the 2012 NFL season.
The New York Giants made numerous moves in both free agency—acquiring Martellus Bennett, Shaun Rogers and Keith Rivers, to name a few—and the NFL draft, where they selected Virginia Tech running back David Wilson as their first pick.
With that being said, there are a number of newcomers who can bolster the world champion Giants' roster this season.
Martellus Bennett, TE
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New York didn't draft a tight end until the fourth round in Adrien Robinson, who had just 29 career receptions in college, even though Stanford TE Coby Fleener was still on the board when the Giants made the No. 32 selection.
That must mean that the Giants have confidence in Martellus Bennett, who was overshadowed his entire career by Jason Witten.
With Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum suffering torn ACLs in Super Bowl XLVI, the addition of Bennett becomes all the more important.
Bennett has just four TDs to his NFL resume in four seasons, with all four touchdowns coming his rookie season in 2008. However, he does have the benefit of playing alongside Eli Manning, who turned Kevin Boss and Jake Ballard into viable offensive options.
Don't be surprised to see Bennett shine under the brightest lights in New York.
Shaun Rogers, DT
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Rogers recorded just 22 tackles and failed to record a sack in New Orleans last season, but that doesn't mean he can't turn it around in New York.
Under Perry Fewell, Rogers will assuredly be given the opportunity to reach the quarterback, something Giants' DTs had trouble doing last season.
The acquisition of Rogers has to make some wonder if New York is losing confidence in younger DTs Marvin Austin and Linval Joseph. Austin missed the entire 2011 season due to a torn pectoral muscle sustained during the preseason, while Joseph recorded 49 tackles but just two sacks for the G-Men last season.
At 350 lbs., Rogers will be a monster inside for New York, allowing edge-rushers Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck to reach the quarterback.
His numbers may not indicate his presence by season's end, but Rogers will impact the Giants' D this season.
Keith Rivers, LB
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The acquisition of Cincinnati Bengals LB Keith Rivers by the Giants was a low-risk move, as they surrendered just one fifth-round pick in this year's draft to add depth to the linebacking corps.
Rivers missed the entire 2011 season due to a wrist injury and has yet to complete a full season because of injuries.
However, at just 26, Rivers has a lot of upside.
He recorded 37 tackles, a forced fumble and one interception in seven games during his rookie season in 2008, and totaled 72 tackles, one sack and one pick in 13 games in 2009. His most recent season—2010—saw him record 77 tackles and one sack in 15 total games.
Rivers' solid collegiate career at USC is enough to show he does have the potential to play at a high level in the NFL.
The Giants list numerous linebackers on their roster, but Rivers should stand out in 2012.
Domenik Hixon, WR
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Not a newcomer, but wideout Domenik Hixon will be in contention for the No. 3 WR spot on the Giants roster.
On March 27, I published an article suggesting five candidates who could replace Mario Manningham, and Hixon was one of them.
Though he's been injury prone for practically his entire career, Hixon has shown the Giants he has what it takes to be a professional wideout and kick returner.
Hixon's best season came in 2008—he played in all 16 games for New York—catching 43 balls for 596 yards and two touchdowns. Since '08, though, Hixon has played in just 16 games for the Giants due to an ACL tear.
With Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks drawing most of the coverage, whoever wins the rights to the third wide receiver position will see a lot of attention from Eli Manning in 2012. Given his background and lengthy relationship with Manning and the offense, don't be surprised if it's Hixon.
David Wilson, RB
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The absence of Brandon Jacobs makes the addition of Virginia Tech running back David Wilson all the more important to New York's running game, which ranked dead last in the NFL last season with just 89.2 yards per game.
New York was seeking a change-of-pace back from the speedy Ahmad Bradshaw, and that's exactly what it got in its 32nd pick of the draft.
Wilson possesses a combination of great speed and power, and has already sparked the interest of his backfield teammate Bradshaw:
I plan on using him as my project. He’s a very talented running back and he’s from Virginia. Two Virginia guys in this running back corps is going to be dangerous. I expect to use him as my project to get him better, to get him smarter and just to mature him a little bit, just to help him understand the NFL.
The 5'10", 205-lb. running back accumulated 1,709 yards and nine touchdowns on 290 carries in 2011, while also catching 22 passes out of the backfield.
Wilson has the advantage of New York sporting a two-back rotation, which makes him a favorite to become a big contributor in 2012.
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