Yet another reason why Eli Manning is the best quarterback in the NFL is that he has two of the league's best weapons among his receivers: Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz.
Living up to his billing as a first-round draft pick, Nicks has become one of the best and most explosive receivers in the game. He may not have the same skills as Calvin Johnson but he is without question one of the five best receivers around.
With his massive hands, Nicks has shown in the past two years why he is such a dangerous weapon. In 2010, he had 79 receptions, 11 touchdown catches and 1,052 receiving yards. Last season, he had 76 receptions, seven touchdown catches and 1,192 receiving yards. He also averaged 15.7 yards per catch last year, which was an improvement from 13.3 yards per catch in 2010.
Nicks was also clutch throughout the postseason. In the divisional round against the Packers, he had seven receptions for 165 yards and two touchdowns. In the Super Bowl, Nicks had ten receptions for 109 yards.
Although Nicks has yet to receive a deserving Pro Bowl nomination, he was named the 2011 NFL Alumni Wide Receiver of the Year. He should be earning more hardware in years to come.
Nicks, in fact, is such a dangerous weapon that opposing defenses often used double coverage against him, which led to teammate Victor Cruz having a breakout season.
Speaking of Cruz, he is another elite NFL receiver, but unlike Nicks, who was a highly touted coming out of college, Cruz was signed as an undrafted free agent and burst onto the scene last year.
Cruz was not even supposed to be the team's second-best receiver last year. It was the injuries to Mario Manningham and Domenik Hixon that led to Cruz getting more playing time than expected. He certainly made the most of it.
Cruz finished the season with 82 receptions for 1,536 receiving yards—a new Giants record—18.7 yards per catch and nine touchdown catches. He was named as a Pro Bowl alternate as he became more explosive than anyone could have predicted. He even had a 99-yard touchdown reception against the Jets in Week 16, tying the NFL record.
Cruz also became very well known for his salsa dance following each of his touchdown receptions, which attracted a lot of media attention.
It will be fascinating to see how opposing defenses will play against Nicks and Cruz and whether they cover Nicks more tightly than Cruz, or vice versa. However, they are not the only options that Manning will have.
Domenik Hixon will be a solid receiver if he can finally stay healthy, and rookie Reuben Randle could be a great third receiver as well. There is also the new tight end Martellus Bennett, who will be in a starting role for the first time in his career. Bear Pascoe and Travis Beckum are other tight end options as well.
All in all, Manning will have plenty of weapons, including two of the most elite receivers, as the Giants' offense tries to be as good as or better than it was in 2011.