5 Unproven Players Primed for Massive 2013 Campaign with New York Giants
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When the New York Giants purged themselves of several big-name veterans this offseason, general manager Jerry Reese made a bold commitment to the team's unproven players. With an expanded role and the trust of their team behind them, these five neophytes are primed to contribute for New York throughout the 2013 season.
The ability to replace the likes of Ahmad Bradshaw, Osi Umenyiora and Michael Boley will be paramount to New York's success in 2013.
Salary-cap confinements may have forced Reese's hand earlier than he would have liked in promoting younger players to the first team. With the season fast approaching, preseason football is more valuable than ever for New York.
Unproven players are rookies or have had inconsistent playing time at this point in their careers. Here are five mercurial Giants primed to become reliable assets in 2013.
5. DT Johnathan Hankins
The Giants will benefit in the middle from Hankins' presence.
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If not for a slew of veterans standing in his way at defensive tackle, rookie Johnathan Hankins would be much higher on this list.
Cullen Jenkins, Linval Joseph and Mike Patterson should be looking over their shoulders as camp carries on. Hankins has the physical tools to make an impact and will likely be a part of the Giants' rotation at defensive tackle this season.
New York's 25th-ranked run defense in 2012 was abysmal at times. If the team hopes to have any success this season, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell's unit must stuff the run better.
The Giants will utilize Hankins' ability to plug the middle of the defensive line early and often. Almost all of this defense's struggles a year ago can be traced to an inability to stop the ground game on first downs.
With their second-round pick in last year's draft, the Giants received a two-down run-stopper who showed up to camp prepared and in shape. A crowded depth chart and lack of experience will not prevent him from contributing in 2013.
4. DE Damontre Moore
Moore should find himself in New York's NASCAR package.
A once vaunted pass-rush will look to reboot in 2013 with the help of rookie defensive end Damontre Moore. The Giants selected the former Texas A&M standout in the third round of April's draft to mixed reviews.
His role on the 2013 Giants should come in obvious passing situations. His physical tools and raw talent will allow him to pin his ears back on third downs for New York.
According to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News, the Giants gave Moore extra reps with Jason Pierre-Paul on the mend, and he has been making them count. Defensive line coach Robert Nunn praised the rookie standout, saying, "I really believe the guy (Moore) is going to contribute early."
The Giants' "NASCAR" package is receiving a facelift with the help of this young player.
New York will combine the experience and strength of Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka with the limitless potential of Pierre-Paul and Moore in what the team hopes will be a revitalized pass-rushing unit. If Moore can continue to improve through August, expect that goal to be achieved.
3. WR Rueben Randle
Randle will be a huge asset for Eli Manning.
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Rueben Randle is another player who would have a bigger impact this fall if not for the talent already at his position. With Hakeem Nicks' health concerns traditionally limiting his participation in practices, Randle has an opportunity to see valuable reps throughout the year.
New York's success on offense will be predicated on his ability to stretch the opposition deep.
The former LSU Tiger's development opens up all kinds of possibilities for quarterback Eli Manning. Pairing Nicks and Randle on the outside will allow Victor Cruz and newcomer Brandon Myers to exploit mismatches down the middle of the field. That sort of "pick your poison" offense is contingent upon Randle's emergence this season.
If you're searching for a comparable statistical line for the Giants' third receiver this year, look no further than the man he replaced.
Mario Manningham's production skyrocketed following his rookie season in New York. After reeling in just four catches in 2008, he caught 57 balls for Big Blue during his sophomore campaign. That sort of leap by Randle will do wonders for New York in 2013.
2. OT Justin Pugh
Pugh will be a mainstay on New York's line.
Unlike most of the players on this list, Justin Pugh has little standing between him and a starting job during his rookie season. Once he shows the Giants coaching staff he is capable of playing the tackle position, he will likely climb over veteran David Diehl on the depth chart before the regular season begins in Dallas.
New York drafted this prospect out of Syracuse because the team can tap into his versatility and talent almost immediately.
With his newly minted first-round pick, head coach Tom Coughlin will be able to rearrange his offensive line in a fluid manner compared to years past. Considering Diehl's woes in 2012 and the ongoing injury problems faced by Chris Snee and David Baas, this will be a major benefit to an aging unit.
Detractors will reference Pugh's shortish 32'' arm length as an impediment to playing the tackle position; however, his exceptional footwork more than makes up for this obstacle.
In the early rounds of rookie drafts, Jerry Reese rarely indulges in selecting players based on roster needs. In 2013, that's what the Giants general manager decided to do, and it may pay off with Pugh.
1. RB David Wilson
Don't blink. You might miss David Wilson racing into the end zone.
David Wilson represents everything that is exciting about dynamic playmakers. If the Giants can just get him to block at the level (or close to it) of Ahmad Bradshaw, New York will be able to capitalize on his full potential in 2013.
Having already shown his explosiveness as a kick returner, Wilson will be looking to expand his role with the Giants as their featured back.
Despite the growing attention and expectations thrust on the former Virginia Tech track star, there is a massive chip on his shoulder dating back to draft night in 2012. With the 31st overall selection, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers chose Doug Martin, who went on to rush for 1,454 yards in his rookie year.
With the very next pick, Wilson heard his name called. He didn't see double-digit carries until Week 14 against the New Orleans Saints.
Pass protection is the only thing that can prevent this running back from becoming a star in the NFL. New York doesn't like to see its signal-caller flattened, especially at the expense of a running back who failed to pick up his assignment.
Wilson should get a healthy dose of the carries for the Giants along with Andre Brown.
A talented young backfield with loads of motivation is a scary proposition for opposing defenses in 2013. If Wilson executes the underrated aspects of his job, expect him to garner serious attention and numbers for New York.