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