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New York Giants: Grading Untapped Potential for Each Member of 2012 Rookie Class

Kevin BoilardCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2013

New York Giants: Grading Untapped Potential for Each Member of 2012 Rookie Class

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    Back in April, the New York Giants brought in a wave of rookies who the brain trust believed would eventually become the franchise’s stars of the future.  From the little we saw of them in 2012, Giants fans have reason to believe that these young prospects could eventually help New York return to playoff dominance.

    This will be a pivotal offseason for the 2012 rookie class.  After experiencing a full season in the Giants’ system, the members of the class will have their first full spring/summer to hone their abilities and knowledge of the playbook.

    This article will highlight both what we saw from the rookie class in 2012 as well as what to expect from it in 2013 and beyond.

Rd. 1 (Pick 32): RB David Wilson

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    What we saw:

    We knew going into the season that running back David Wilson had an incomparable burst of speed.  The reports from training camp were that Wilson possessed explosiveness unlike any the New York Giants coaching staff had seen before.

    However, after a Week 1 fumble, head coach Tom Coughlin kept that burst hidden for the majority of the season.  It wasn’t until Ahmad Bradshaw’s backup, Andre Brown, broke his fibula in Week 12 that Wilson got his true chance to shine.

    His breakout performance against the New Orleans Saints in Week 14 sent Giants fans into a tizzy, as the majority of them wanted to see Wilson’s role expand beyond simple kick return duties.  In the final four weeks of the season, Wilson’s production rose exponentially; he carried the ball 43 times for 247 yards and three touchdowns during that time.

     

    What to expect:

    Wilson’s biggest task this offseason is to attain a firm grasp on his full responsibilities as a running back, including pass protection, ball control and route running.  The sooner he understands those aspects of the game, the sooner New York can rely on him as an every-down back.

    Bradshaw is still a veteran leader, but Wilson will quickly gain ground on him in 2013.  He is a motivated player that makes a list of lofty goals before each season.  Wilson’s athletic potential is too dangerous to keep on the sidelines any longer.

    Untapped potential: 5.0/5.0

Rd. 2 (Pick 63): WR Rueben Randle

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    What we saw:

    The 6’3 receiver would flash before our eyes in 2012, sometimes leaving our jaws on the floor after making an amazing catch.  Then, just as quickly as he appeared, the rookie would disappear, burying himself deep within a wide receiver corps ripe with talent.

    Such was the story of wide receiver Rueben Randle’s rookie year.

    Against the Cleveland Browns in Week 5, Randle was featured in a primary role as the Giants fielded a depleted cast of receivers.  He was outstanding in the early-season showing, leading his team with 82 yards on six grabs.

    But after that game, Randle was not targeted more than twice in a contest until Week 16—in five of those games he was not targeted at all.  He held New York’s punt return duties for most of the season, but veteran Domenik Hixon eventually took over in Week 14 against the Saints.  Neither player was particularly effective in that facet of the game.

    Then, in Week 17 against the Eagles, Randle gave Giants fans the taste they were looking for.  He caught four Eli Manning passes for 58 yards and converted two of them into touchdowns.  He finished the season with 32 catches, 298 yards and three touchdowns.

     

    What to expect:

    Randle’s size gives him a ton of upside.  Manning loves to fling the ball up for his play-making receivers, and Randle is the type of player that has proven he can come down with those passes.  A big target like Randle will be awfully useful in the red zone.

    With Hakeem Nicks under contract, and Victor Cruz seemingly in the fold for 2013, Randle’s biggest task will be to separate himself from a strong fleet New York receivers.  If the Giants bring back Hixon, a reliable pass-catcher and established target of Manning’s, Randle’s job will get even tougher.

    Randle needs to work on his timing with Manning during the offseason.  Once Manning trusts Randle to be in a certain place at a certain time, we’ll see him worked into the offensive mix more thoroughly.  With Nicks healthy, Cruz and Randle could round out a deadly receiving trio in 2013.

    Untapped potential: 4.0/5.0

Rd. 3 (Pick 94): CB Jayron Hosley

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    What we saw:

    Cornerback Jayron Hosley was forced into action a bit more than the Giants originally anticipated in 2012.  Thanks to a season-ending preseason injury to Terrell Thomas in training camp, nagging hamstring and ankle issues with Prince Amukamara, and the general ineffectiveness of Michael Coe (now with the Cowboys) and Justin Tryon, Hosley was asked to produce early in his rookie campaign.

    Hosley played in the first three games of the season but was then bothered by multiple injuries of his own.  Often, his name showed up on the weekly injury report, but the rookie still managed to take the field for 12 games in 2012.

    When on the field, Hosley’s inexperience was exposed.  He managed to make a handful of quality plays, including an interception against the Carolina Panthers in Week 3, but for the most part, opposing quarterbacks took advantage of his youth.

    Hosley finished the season with 40 tackles (32 solo, two for a loss), five passes defended, a forced fumble and an interception.

     

    What to expect:

    Hosley is undersized (5’10, 178 lbs.), but he makes up for it with blazing speed.  He is the perfect defender for smaller, shiftier slot receivers.  However, to use him exclusively in that role, the Giants need to stay healthy on the outsides.  Larger, more physical receivers will manhandle him if he is asked to defend them.

    The Virginia Tech product is not afraid to make a play on the ball, though.  As a slot corner, Hosley has the potential to develop into a difference-making interception machine.  If he studies up on the tendencies of opposing quarterbacks/receivers, Hosley could become an excellent route-jumper.

    Untapped potential: 3.0/5.0

Rd. 4 (Pick 127): TE Adrien Robinson

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    What we saw:

    Starting tight end Martellus Bennett insisted upon the nickname “Black Unicorn” for himself when he came to New York, but it might be more fitting for Adrien Robinson to go by that name.  After general manager Jerry Reese referred to him as the “JPP of tight ends” in training camp, the quasi-mythical Robinson was never activated in the regular season.

    Giants fans knew going into the season that Robinson was a very raw, yet athletic option at tight end who was probably not going to make an impact in his first year as a professional.  For every big catch he made during training camp/preseason, Robinson made two or three inexperienced errors

    It will be a learning process for Robinson; hopefully he picked up a thing or two from watching Bennett and Bear Pascoe.

     

    What to expect:

    If Robinson really is the Jason Pierre-Paul of tight ends then 2013 should be his year to shine.  In 2011, Pierre-Paul’s second year in the league, the defensive end ripped through opposing offenses as teams clamored for a game plan to slow down the athletic specimen.

    Robinson, who has tremendous size (6’4, 264 lbs.), needs to work most closely on his catching ability this offseason.  For a player as raw as Robinson, the route running and timing won’t immediately fall into place.  However, if he can prove that he has reliable hands, Manning will not be hesitant to feed him the ball in a bind.

    Untapped potential: 4.5/5.0

Rd. 4 (Pick 131): OT Brandon Mosley

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    What we saw:

    Offensive tackle Brandon Mosley didn’t make many headlines during training camp last August, but he did survive the team’s first cuts on Aug. 27.  However, on that same day, Mosley was placed on injured reserve after suffering an ankle injury that had been limiting his practice time for a week.

     

    What to expect:

    Mosley is a “tough-minded” and versatile offensive lineman, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York.  He is likened to long-time Giants offensive lineman David Diehl, which is meant to be a compliment but sounds more like a curse, given Diehl’s performance over the last couple seasons.

    Untapped potential: 2.0/5.0

Rd. 6: OT Matt McCants

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    What we saw:

    Offensive tackle Matt McCants was just as invisible as Mosley was in 2012.  Their combined snap count this season was zero, as McCants found a permanent home on the Giants’ practice squad.  He was signed to a reserve/futures contract earlier this week.

     

    What to expect:

    There’s not much to expect from either Mosley or McCants.  Even Reese sounded a bit pessimistic of his late-round offensive lineman in his postseason review of the 2012 rookie class (via Jenny Vrentas of The Newark Star-Ledger):

    They’re both developmental kids, and they’ll have the offseason program, and hopefully they can give us some depth. And who knows? Maybe one of them will be a starter at some point.

    It doesn’t sound like either player will be making a huge impact any time soon.

    Untapped potential:1.5/5.0

Rd. 7 (Pick 201): DT Markus Kuhn

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    What we saw:

    When the Giants selected German-born defensive tackle Markus Kuhn in the seventh round, he was a long shot to make the final 53-man roster.  Many expected the developmental defensive lineman to be stashed away on the practice squad for the 2012 season.

    However, after a rash of injuries at the position, Kuhn landed a spot on New York’s final roster.  When veteran Rocky Bernard sat out in Week 5 with a quad injury, Kuhn and fellow inexperienced DT Marvin Austin were forced to carry the load alongside Linval Joseph.

    Surprisingly, Kuhn was formidable in the starting lineup.  His performance was not outstanding statistically, but Kuhn saw significant playing time until a torn ACL robbed him of the back half of his rookie campaign.

    In 10 games, Kuhn collected eight tackles (four solo, one for a loss) and deflected four passes at the line.

     

    What to expect:

    It’s tough to gauge how Kuhn will come back from such a serious injury.  In general, players across the league are recovering more quickly from ACL tears—Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson came within nine yards of the all-time, single-season rushing record in 2012 after undergoing similar knee surgery just over a year ago.

    On the flip side, if the recovery time is rushed, the hard work can backfire.  New York’s Terrell Thomas and Domenik Hixon both suffered consecutive ACL injuries in recent years.  Kuhn, who is still learning how to play at the NFL level, should be in no rush to return to action.

    Untapped potential: 3.5/5.0

UDFA: Adewale Ojomo

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    What we saw:

    Defensive end Adewale Ojomo was New York's preseason prodigy.  After blowing everyone away with his ability in August, Ojomo became the only undrafted rookie to make the Giants’ 53-man roster.

    However, once the season began, Ojomo was rarely activated; he did not play a single defensive snap in 2012.  The move to put Ojomo on the 53-man roster was probably a preventative measure, as he garnered a lot of attention during the preseason, and many teams would love to get their hands on a player with his potential.

    Ojomo defended the run and rushed the passer effectively during the 2012 preseason, racking up 10 tackles (eight tackles, four for a loss), four sacks, four QB hits and a pass deflection in three games.

     

    What to expect:

    Ojomo has ideal size for a defensive end (6’4, 270 lbs.), and he used it to his advantage during the 2012 preseason.  Most of his production was against second- and third-string talent, but if he can replicate the stellar performances we've seen on Sundays in 2013, the New York coaching staff would be thrilled.

    In the little we saw of Ojomo, he displayed an endless motor and an invaluable nose for the ball.  Despite not playing a single down in 2012, Ojomo has remained a fan favorite.  If Ojomo can refine his craft during the offseason, he’ll turn veteran Osi Umenyiora into an afterthought, as the 31-year-old’s departure appears to be imminent.

    Untapped potential: 4.5/5.0


    Follow me on Twitter: @KevinBoilard

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