8 New York Giants Players Who Have Turned Heads During Offseason Workouts
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Giants' offseason workout program will make the transition from voluntary to mandatory later this week.
The OTA portion of the schedule was completed on Friday, June 7, and after a few days off, the players will be back at it on Tuesday, June 11, for a three-day minicamp where attendance is required.
With a significant portion of offseason workouts in the rearview mirror, now is a great time to highlight players who have made a good impression so far.
To make things interesting, the following eight players who have turned heads are ordered by how much impact they could have for Big Blue in 2013, ranking from the least potential impact to the most.
Brandon Collins, WR
Brandon Collins was impressive during the spring last year, and it only resulted in a spot for him on the practice squad when the regular season rolled around.
Maybe this year's strong performance in the Giants' offseason workouts will be the first step towards Collins making the 53-man roster.
The 24-year-old has not only impressed head coach Tom Coughlin but also NFC East blogger for ESPN.com, Dan Graziano, who saw Collins first-hand during an OTA session that was open to the media on May 30.
Despite being only 5'11", Collins can make his presence felt with good speed and strong athleticism. He has a chance to grab the last wide receiver spot on the team considering the quality of the competition he'll be facing.
Disappointing players such as Jerrel Jernigan and Ramses Barden headline the group, with fellow unknowns like Kris Adams, Kevin Hardy and Jeremy Horne also in the mix.
Collins figures to make the least impact for the 2013 Giants out of the players in this slideshow since he may not make the team. Even if he does, his playing time will likely be limited considering that he will be behind Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks on the depth chart and most likely looking up at Rueben Randle and Louis Murphy as well.
Adrian Tracy, DE
Adrian Tracy is another Giants player who is simply fighting just to make the team.
He is entering his fourth year in the league, but his NFL career really didn't start until last season. After missing his rookie year with a dislocated elbow and spending 2011 on the practice squad, the 26-year-old finally made an impact last season, registering 12 tackles, two forced fumbles and one sack in only 70 defensive snaps.
Tracy has carried some momentum from 2012 into offseason workouts, which has caught the eye of his head coach. Coughlin pointed out in the Morning Call (subscription required) that Tracy is doing a good job using his biggest strength on the defensive line:
There were flashes. We're restricted in that there can't be contact, but the guys are doing the best they can with it. (Tracy) has shown some good ability to get off on the snap."
Tracy has good speed, which allows him to beat offensive tackles off the edge, even those with decent agility and footwork. Because of that attribute, he has the potential to be a factor in obvious passing situations. Unfortunately, he doesn't figure to ever be a three-down lineman because his 6'2", 242-pound frame is not conducive to him being a strong run-stopper.
Tracy has a good chance to make the team, since, like Collins, he faces pretty weak competition for a spot. Underwhelming players like Adewale Ojomo, Matt Broha and Justin Trattou are the only ones that appear to stand in his way.
Tracy slots ahead of Collins because he has a better chance to make the team, simply since he made it last year. If he does get a roster spot, he will also probably get more playing time on defense—given his pass-rushing ability—than Collins will on offense.
Adrien Robinson, TE
It appears that the JPP of tight ends may finally catch his first NFL pass in his second season in the league.
After a rookie year that had him doing a lot more learning than playing, Giants tight ends coach Mike Pope likes what he sees so far from Adrien Robinson this offseason. Dan Salomone at Giants.com notes that Pope points out what he's starting to grasp and what he still needs to understand:
Adrien Robinson has appeared to have gone to the Land of the Believers. Yes, he has made some good progress. He’s understanding assignment-wise, just in our most recent meeting, but the plays are still not the lines on the page that we give them for instruction. So he’s doing a lot of the assignment things correctly. Now we have to get him to adjust to the way the defense is playing on each particular play and to make the best decisions based on how the defense is playing.
If Robinson can learn to adjust to defenses by the end of training camp, he'll have an opportunity to get some snaps backing up Brandon Myers. The former Raider is not a great run-blocker so Robinson should be able to contribute in this area with his impressive 6'4", 264-pound frame.
He also showed good pass-catching skills in college so Eli Manning won't hesitate to include him in the passing game when he is on the field.
Robinson is a virtual lock to make the team and figures to finally have an impact this season, though it should be in a limited capacity. His contributions to Big Blue in 2013 are likely to be more than both Collins and Tracy, putting him ahead of the duo.
Johnathan Hankins, DT
Johnathan Hankins fell to the Giants in the second round of the NFL draft in April, even though they had Hankins rated as a first-round talent.
On Thursday, June 6, he made a good case to the media during an open OTA session that he should have been taken among the first 32 picks.
Art Stapleton of The Record was particularly impressed on his Twitter account:
— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) June 6, 2013
It's good to see that Hankins is off to a strong start. The main reasons he dropped in the draft were due to his lack of sacks in college and his tendency to wear down with too many snaps. With the Giants, these weaknesses shouldn't be a problem.
First of all, he'll be part of a rotation at defensive tackle, so he won't play as much as he did at Ohio State, where he was a full-time starter.
New York also won't be asking him to get sacks. They will simply want him to be an effective run-stopper and someone who occupies the center and/or guard on passing plays to allow the defensive ends to get to the quarterback. The Giants will rely on their likely starters at defensive tackle, Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins, to provide the pass rush or just go to their NASCAR package in obvious passing situations.
Hankins, like Robinson, is a near-certainty to make the roster. He should have more of an impact than the tight end, since he figures to be part of a rotation and not merely the backup. Also, the front four is probably the most important part of the Giants defense while the tight end position is definitely not a focal point of Big Blue's offense.
Louis Murphy, WR
If the newest member of the Giants wide receiver corps wants to increase his chances of getting targets this upcoming season, impressing Eli Manning is not a bad idea.
That is exactly what Louis Murphy has done this offseason, as Manning noted in an article by Jon Lane at SB Nation:
He's come in and worked really hard. Back in early April, going over to Duke and working those days and learning the offense and asking questions and being here in the offseason, being there for routes and trying to pick up everything in this offense and so he's got talent.
He can really run, he can stretch the field and he's got the desire and the commitment to be a good player and to bring another threat to this offense.
Murphy has been a disappointment in his four-year NFL career. He has only totaled 1,707 receiving yards and seven touchdowns while his production is actually getting worse, not better, as he gains experience. Murphy has failed to break 400 yards in either of the last two seasons and only has one touchdown during this stretch.
Playing with the Giants is a great opportunity for Murphy to reverse his downward trend since Manning is clearly the best quarterback he has ever had throwing to him. Based on his hard work and impressive play in the early going, he appears intent on making the most of his chance.
Murphy figures to get a similar amount of playing time as Hankins. He is actually probably a safer bet to see the field more since he is a veteran, not a rookie. In addition, while the Giants' defensive line is a key part of the team, their passing game is the heartbeat.
Those two factors gives Murphy the edge.
Bear Pascoe, TE
Could Bear Pascoe be making a temporary switch to starting fullback?
The four-year veteran is ready to face the adversity that comes with learning a somewhat unfamiliar position, as he told Kieran Darcy of ESPNNewYork.com:
It’s a bit of a challenge, but this is something that I’ve done since my second year here with the Giants [playing different positions]. It just allows me to be on the field a little more, and wherever they need me to be. I’m just glad I can step in and keep our offense going and hopefully not missing a beat.
Pascoe has filled in at fullback before, for the injured Madison Hedgecock in 2010. Based on this past experience, the learning curve for Pascoe shouldn't be too steep.
Based on an excerpt from a team statement by Hynoski (per The New York Times), after it was announced he would need surgery, it appears likely that Pascoe could be the starting fullback for the first few games of the season:
I am going to set my mind to being ready for the first game of the regular season. They said that is not an unrealistic goal, and I will do everything in my power to be ready for the start of the season.
There is definitely a lot of doubt in Hyoncerous' words that he'll be suiting up for the Dallas Cowboys on opening night. The "not an unrealistic goal" part is especially telling.
Assuming Pascoe does start at fullback to begin the season, he immediately jumps ahead of the previous players in this slideshow since none of them are on track to start at their respective positions.
Right now, it appears safe to make this assumption.
Rueben Randle, WR
Even though Louis Murphy has impressed in the early going, Rueben Randle should still be considered the favorite to grab the third wide receiver role.
The second-year player has the skills to be a more diverse weapon in the passing game than Murphy. Randle can match Murphy's ability to be a deep threat (four of his 19 catches during his rookie year went for more than 35 yards), but his size and athleticism suggest that he can be more effective than Murphy over the middle and in the red zone.
Randle has also drawn strong reviews this spring from the man who will ultimately decide his role—head coach Tom Coughlin, who said he believes the young wideout is making progress, according to Michael Eisen at Giants.com:
He’s moving in that direction. He certainly has had many, many opportunities, and if there’s a guy that really has a chance to step his game up and really show what he can do, it’s happening right now for Rueben.
Randle has as good of a chance at this point to begin the season as the Giants' third wide receiver as Pascoe does to start at fullback. Given the aforementioned importance of the passing game, Randle slots ahead of his multi-positional teammate, even though he is not in line to start.
The Giants use a lot of three-wide receiver sets, so while the 22-year-old won't start, he'll certainly be on the field quite a bit.
Mark Herzlich, LB
A surprising development during OTAs has been the rise of Mark Herzlich.
The signing of former Cowboy and Carolina Panther Dan Connor had many believing that he was in line to grab the starting middle linebacker role. However, according to Ed Valentine at Big Blue View, Herzlich played with the first unit in every OTA session the media witnessed.
On Thursday, June 6, the third-year player impressed several of the media members that were in attendance. Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com noted, on his Twitter account that Herzlich was showing off his skills in pass coverage:
In 7 on 7, Mark Herzlich picks off Eli Manning over middle. Herzlich is starting again with first team at MLB
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) June 6, 2013
Stapleton tweeted a more general observation about his impressions of the former Boston College standout:
1st nominee 4 #NYG breakout candidates, OTA edition: Mark Herzlich ... not giving away that starting MLB job just yet. Playing a lot faster
— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) June 6, 2013
Before being stricken with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in 2009 prior to his senior season in college, Herzlich was considered one of the best linebackers in the country and a lock to be selected in the first round.
If he is starting to regain some of the speed he appeared to lose from battling cancer, he could be a real find for the Giants in a weak unit of the defense.
Herzlich tops this list because if he is in line to start at middle linebacker—which appears to be a distinct possibility after OTAs—he easily trumps the other players discussed.
Not only would Herzlich be starting, but he would also be manning one of the most important positions on the defense.
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