New York Giants: 4 Potential Breakout Players for the 2012 Season

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMay 23, 2012

New York Giants: 4 Potential Breakout Players for the 2012 Season

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    Just because they're currently sitting on the throne of professional football doesn't mean the New York Giants don't need to count on a few players to emerge. Think of the NFL as you would Game of Thrones—the king is never safe. And to keep its crown, New York will need as much support as possible.

    In our recently released blueprint for how the Giants might be able to repeat and continue their reign atop the league, we mentioned that some people would have to step up. Here are a handful of unproven G-men who might be on the verge of doing so.

Will Beatty

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    The 2009 second-round pick showed signs he was becoming a top-tier left tackle before a detached retina abruptly ended his first season as a full-time starter.

    Now, on paper, the line play got better after Beatty went down, but David Diehl's shoddy performance in Beatty's stead has me thinking the increased production had little to do with his absence.

    As far as his current state of health is concerned, the 27-year-old was able enough to dance at his wedding in February, for what that's worth.

    When not injured, Beatty is probably the most physically gifted member of the Giants' offensive line. So if he can stay on the field in 2012 and establish more of a comfort level for himself, expect Beatty to perform significantly better than Diehl was able to last year.

    Considering that the G-men won the Super Bowl with Diehl manning the blind side, that would be encouraging.

Prince Amukamara

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    There's no questioning Amukamara's talent. The 19th pick of the 2011 draft failed to do much as a rookie, but he also lost his entire offseason due to the lockout and then a foot injury. 

    Aaron Ross is gone, and there's no telling how Terrell Thomas will bounce back from a lost season due to a torn ACL, so Amukamara has a legitimate chance to earn quality playing time in his second season.

    With a full offseason under his belt, look for the former Nebraska star to benefit from playing opposite talented corners like Thomas and Corey Webster while contributing as a playmaker on the back end of a defense that gets a lot of pressure up front.

Justin Trattou

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    Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2011, the former Florida Gator actually looked quite solid in limited opportunities to contribute last year.

    Dave Tollefson is gone and we don't know what's going to happen with Osi Umenyiora, which means Trattou could have a chance to join the rotation at defensive end. 

    He's faster and stronger than you might assume, and with Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck attracting quite a lot of attention from pass-blockers, it wouldn't shock me to see Trattou make some plays in 2012.

    He might not have the elements to become a star, but he's definitely on my breakout radar. 

    Of course, now that I've said that, he'll probably be cut in training camp.

Jerrel Jernigan

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    I'm rolling the dice on this one. But with Mario Manningham gone, the No. 3 wide receiver spot is Jernigan's for the taking. Right now, Ramses Barden and Domenik Hixon have the inside track, but I don't see either locking up the role.

    For starters, Barden has had several opportunities to gain reps, and he's failed every time. The 2009 third-round pick has just 15 catches in his three-year career. I don't know why this year would be any different for him.

    And then there's Hixon, who has missed pretty much all of the last two seasons. Big question mark there for a player with obvious limitations.

    Although Jernigan didn't catch a single pass as a rookie, the third-round pick out of Troy has enough speed and athletic ability to earn a high quantity of reps. He's short, but offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride can find a way to utilize his speed regardless. 

    It won't be easy to hold off rookie second-round pick Rueben Randle all year, but look for Jernigan to carve out an important role for himself in his sophomore season.