David Wilson ran away with the headlines late in 2012.
The NFL's annual All-Pro team is a distinction handed out to the very best players at their respective positions. Without a single player making the first-team, and a rookie named to the second-team (David Wilson/special teams), it should come as no surprise that the New York Giants failed to meet expectations in 2012.
Several key players underperformed for New York last season. Injuries and a debilitating Super Bowl hangover hampered the team's ability to generate any sustainable success.
With the target now off their backs, the Giants will look to re-establish themselves as contenders this fall.
These five Giants have at one time or another shown the ability to be a top performer at their position. Some are household names, while others are working towards breaking out in 2013. Regardless of their reputation, New York will need each of these players to be at their best if they want to be the first team to ever play a Super Bowl on their home turf. Here are the five Giants most likely to become an NFL All-Pro selection in 2013.
Cruz will put up some scary numbers this fall.
Fresh off his five-year contract extension with the Giants, Victor Cruz will enter camp a very happy man. To paraphrase Terrell Owens' publicist, Cruz has 43 million reasons to salsa dance.
If the past two seasons are any indication, the Giants can count on this receiver to be a focal point on offense.
Cruz has combined for 168 receptions, 2,628 yards and 19 touchdowns since 2011. Those gaudy numbers are something to marvel when you consider they came during his first two seasons on the field. He was on injured reserve for the majority of the 2010 season.
The emergence of Rueben Randle and health of Hakeem Nicks will factor into Cruz's ability to perform at his peak level.
When the Giants field their top three receivers, they almost exclusively line up No. 80 in the slot. Cruz's position on the inside gives him the opportunity to serve as Eli Manning's safety valve and a major threat on third downs.
The matchup nightmare that Cruz presents in the slot is the reason why he is on this list. After an All-Pro second team selection in 2011, this hometown kid is primed to stake his claim amongst the elite wide receivers in the NFL.
Don't count on Jason Pierre-Paul to struggle again in 2013.
Jason Pierre-Paul's 2012 season can only be described as a disappointment. It was the kind of slump you'd expect from a young player still trying to find his way in the NFL.
Following a spectacular 2011 season in which he took the league by storm and was named to the All-Pro first team, JPP was simply not the same player last year.
Pierre-Paul saw his tackles diminish by 22 and had 10 less sacks. This startling drop-off is easily attributable to the nagging injuries he suffered throughout the season, but there are other more pertinent and tangible factors.
Without much help from his teammates, the former USF star was consistently double-teamed last season.
The Giants' inability to help their young star in the trenches augmented his mounting frustration throughout the year. Some fresh faces along the line, such as rookie Damontre Moore and Cullen Jenkins could be the proper fix.
Jason Pierre-Paul's return from back surgery in time for the opening week of the 2013 season will be crucial. If this athletic neophyte is healthy, expect him to regain his form as a premier defensive end.
Kevin Boothe has developed into New York's best offensive lineman
Kevin Boothe is an eight-year veteran without a single Pro Bowl or All-Pro selection to his credit. He almost never gets recognized for his prowess on the interior of the offensive line despite the fact that he has improved tremendously as a player.
This former sixth-round pick out of Cornell is primed to make a name for himself in 2013.
While fellow guard Chris Snee limped toward another Pro Bowl selection last season, Boothe quietly had the best year of his career.
The Giants were wise to give their guard incentive for continuing to play quality football. Boothe was given a one-year contract from New York, meaning he will be playing for a long-term deal for the second consecutive season.
Motivation is what inspired Boothe to morph from an awkward looking guard with a pear-shaped body to a physically imposing force for the Giants. He has quite surprisingly become their best player on the offensive line.
This is a player who has been overlooked and unheralded his entire career. If Kevin Boothe can build on his 2012 season, expect that to change drastically.
Wilson is one of the NFL's most exciting young talents.
Achieving success at the running back position is a fickle goal. One awkward tackle can change the trajectory of a running back's season or career, unless of course your name is Adrian Peterson.
David Wilson's emergence toward the end of the 2012 season is something to get excited about.
Big play ability and a balanced offense will propel Wilson to stardom this season. Having already arrived on the scene as an All-Pro caliber player, albeit on special teams, this former Virginia Tech track star will look to equal that success in New York's backfield.
Running behind a veteran offensive line and accompanied by a dangerous aerial attack, Wilson will have opportunities to breakthrough in 2013.
Two key factors to Wilson's success will be his ability to block and stay healthy.
Tom Coughlin gets along famously with his running backs when they protect the quarterback. If they fail to do so, let's just say they wind up in his doghouse.
Wilson adds another dimension to New York's explosive offense. If he can avoid durability issues, the Giants will call on him often in 2013.
The Giants have several pass catching threats at their disposal
It's tough to leave quarterback Eli Manning off this list, but when your competition is headed by the likes of Rodgers, Brees, Brady and brother Peyton, it's difficult to make the case that the Giants' signal caller will outperform his counterparts.
If tight end Brandon Myers can improve his blocking the slightest bit this offseason, the Giants will benefit from his presence.
As mentioned earlier, a player's time on the field hinges on their ability to block. Myers is notoriously an inept blocker which could mean head coach Tom Coughlin will sour on him fast. An improvement in blocking, however, will open up some promising opportunities for the former Oakland Raider.
Throughout his career Eli Manning has made his tight ends look good. Whether these players were actually talented receivers is up for debate.
Kevin Boss, Jake Ballard and Martellus Bennett have roamed through the middle of the field for New York in recent years. While nobody is confusing these players with Tony Gonzalez, they each had productive seasons with the Giants.
Unlike the tight ends before him, Myers has shown he can be a pass-catching threat in this league.
Last season he caught 79 passes for 806 yards. While most of the attention figures to be on Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and David Wilson, Myers should be able to exploit the opposition in 2013.