After a down season in 2012 that saw the New York Giants miss the postseason after winning the Super Bowl the previous season, the G-Men need multiple players to have breakout campaigns in 2013.
We're all looking for the Giants' defense to improve upon its 31st-ranked total defense from last year and help Big Blue secure a playoff seed, but in order for that to happen, there are a number of players who need to break out and make those feats possible for New York.
Who am I talking about?
Scroll on through, folks.
Hakeem Nicks already has two seasons of more than 1,000 yards receiving on his resume, but I truly think he's bound for a career year in 2013.
Knee issues plagued Nicks last season, and the lack of versatility ultimately affected the Giants' offense. But according to Jenny Vrentas of the Star-Ledger, Nicks has put 2012 behind him and looks healthy entering this season.
If Nicks is healthy, he's going to be a nightmare for opposing defenses. Not only is he big and physical (6'1", 208 pounds), but he has some of the biggest hands in football, which allows him to make some pretty insane catches.
Nicks has already proven in the past that he's a top receiver in the game when he's not battling injury, and he'll continue to bolster that argument in 2013.
With Ahmad Bradshaw no longer a member of the franchise, the New York Giants have an opening at the running back position. David Wilson will surely be competing for the starting gig.
Although I think Andre Brown ends up winning the starting job out of camp, I wouldn't be surprised to see Wilson as the starter by season's end.
The rookie running back came up huge down the stretch for the G-Men, highlighted by a monster game against the New Orleans Saints in which Wilson rushed for 100 yards and two touchdowns and racked up more than 200 yards and a touchdown in the kick return game. In the process, Wilson became the first player in NFL history to gain 100 yards on the ground and 200 in kickoff returns, according to ESPN.
New York special teams coordinator Tom Quinn (via ESPN) already hinted that Wilson will play an increased role in the offense and there's still a chance he'll be pitching in on kickoff returns as well.
Regardless, Wilson brings such versatility to the Giants' offense and special teams that he's bound to see an increased role and break out in 2013.
As long as Prince Amukamara can fight the injury bug and stay healthy, he'll have a breakout season for the Giants.
When healthy, Amukamara is arguably the best corner New York has, especially given his 6'0", 200-plus pound frame. While he still has some developing to do, the corner has the skill set to be a standout defender for Big Blue this season.
Amukamara has played in only 20 games in his first two seasons in the NFL, which is why there isn't as much evidence to indicate that he's poised for a breakout year. But considering the state of the Giants' secondary, it seems more than possible.
Corey Webster regressed last season and Terrell Thomas is coming off of his third ACL surgery. If Amukamara can stay on the field, I think his talent and athleticism combined with the experience of more playing time transcends into a big season for the 23-year-old corner.
Giants 2013 second-round pick Johnathan Hankins should see a lot of time as a rookie this season, given that New York likes to rotate its defensive tackles in and out during the game to counter fatigue down the stretch.
The 6'3", 320-pound defensive tackle used to play from start to finish with the Ohio State Buckeyes, as he told Giants' beat writer Mike Eisen, and he has the conditioning to be a difference-maker for the G-Men's defense this season.
Hankins is a run-stopping machine—something the Giants definitely need after ranking 25th against the rush last season. Hankins will join a rotation of Linval Joseph, Cullen Jenkins, Marvin Austin, Markus Kuhn, Mike Patterson and Shaun Rogers, providing a ton of depth at defensive tackle.
Hankins might just make the biggest contribution of any rookie drafted by the Giants in 2013.
Andre Brown was having a sensational season in the Giants' backfield last year before a broken leg derailed his season.
The 26-year-old had a coming-out party against the Carolina Panthers in Week 3, rushing for 113 yards and two scores, and went on to score touchdowns in five straight games before the leg injury in Week 12.
Going off what he did last season, combined with the fact that he'll be competing for the starting job, Giants fans should expect big things from Brown in 2013. The big-bodied back brings a power running game to the Giants' offense and has the ability to break tackles and drag defenders.
New York is a team that likes to utilize two running backs, and with the power of Brown and speed of Wilson, the Giants' running game should get back on track this season.
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