5 Newcomers Who Will Play Biggest Roles for New York Giants
In the offseason, the New York Giants lost a veteran running back (Brandon Jacobs was cut), a veteran wide receiver (Mario Manningham left as a free agent) and a veteran tight end (Jake Ballard is expected to miss the 2012 season due to injury).
That's why it's no surprise that the first three players on our list of newcomers who will play the biggest roles on the Giants are a back, a receiver and a tight end.
And although there's quite a crowd at the position, we complete the list by giving you two new linebackers who could also contribute.
The final pick of the first round of the 2012 draft, David Wilson will add some serious speed to the Giants offense from the get-go.
Wilson averaged a ridiculous 5.8 yards per carry in three years at Virginia Tech, and the video above confirms that he's one hell of an athlete. He's also solid as a receiver and has the ability to return kicks if needed.
Sure, he's a similar player to incumbent starter Ahmad Bradshaw, but Bradshaw is fragile and probably can't be counted on to shoulder the whole load.
As a result, look for Wilson to be used to spell Bradshaw as well as change the pace throughout the 2012 campaign. And if Bradshaw struggles like he did for much of 2011, look for Wilson to emerge as the No. 1 back by this time next year.
With Mario Manningham gone, rookie second-round pick Rueben Randle is the favorite to land the No. 3 receiver job in New York. The LSU product "dazzled" at rookie camp, according to the New York Post, and word is that he's stepped up at OTAs.
That's not overly surprising, because Randle is considered an NFL-ready wideout. With Hakeem Nicks nursing a broken foot, Randle might even start some preseason games and will probably be relied upon heavily throughout the summer.
If he can stay on track and keep those sometimes balky knees healthy, the sky's the limit.
Don't tell the 291-pound Martellus Bennett that Giants jersey makes him look fat.
"Just put on a lot of muscle this summer," Bennett told the media at OTAs, via ESPN New York. "Been working out since January. Faster, stronger, jump higher, run longer, great condition -- every conditioning test we had, I aced."
After he "rocked out" in the weight room throughout the offseason, Bennett says he's now one of the five strongest men on the Giants roster.
Does that mean the former second-round pick will finally live up to expectations as he replaces Jake Ballard in New York? With Travis Beckum also hurt and Adrien Robinson not ready to play a major role, the former Cowboy will certainly have an opportunity early.
Former No. 9 overall pick Keith Rivers is versatile enough to play anywhere in the Giants' linebacker corps, but if he can truly strive in a new environment, the former Cincinnati Bengal could make a run at Chase Blackburn's starting job in the middle.
If—and it's a big if—Rivers can stay healthy for the first time in his career, sheer talent should give him a chance to rise up and earn significant reps. The problem is that he's battled injuries often three years into his career, and he can't afford to fall behind with so many quality linebackers in camp.
All right, I'm really going out on a limb with this one—he's so obscure that the above picture was the only one I could find—but if Chase Blackburn and Mark Herzlich can't deliver and Keith Rivers can't stay healthy, undrafted rookie Jake Muasau could have a chance to become a significant contributor in 2012.
The staff seems to really like the Georgia State product. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell mistook him for Kawika Mitchell the first time he saw him. (Maybe it was the hair, maybe not.)
Muasau should still have his work cut out for him to make the final 53, but if injuries hit like they have in recent seasons, don't be surprised to see him become a factor.