With the offseason departures of Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress, this is the first time in many years the Giants do not have an experienced veteran receiver on the squad. Steve Smith enters the season as the most tested of the wideouts, which means it’s an open competition for the remaining spots.
Smith will likely not be the number one receiver as he is better suited in his current role, going underneath the defense and being a sort of “safety valve” for Eli Manning to look to.
Ramses Barden, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham and Sinorice Moss are the unproven members of this group and will be expected to carry much of the load. Although Manningham and Moss are not rookies, neither has seen much time on the field in their short careers.
David Tyree and Domenik Hixon could see time out wide, but they are better suited as special teams players. For the sake of this discussion, it’s a five man race.
It certainly is a lot of pressure to put on Nicks and Barden to come in right away and fill in for Toomer and Burress, which is why the Giants may use a “wide receiver by committee” situation like we’ve seen many teams do with their running backs.
By rotating in five men at three spots, all the players will be fresh, which could lead to matchup problems for the defense. The Giants are also likely to use Kevin Boss and Travis Beckum in the passing game, making it even harder for opposing defensive coordinators to figure out.
The biggest question for the Giants is, “Will it work?”
A lot of that will depend on the running game. If Ahmad Bradshaw can replicate the production of Derrick Ward and Brandon Jacobs plays like he is capable, there won’t be as much pressure on the inexperienced receiving corps. But if not, things could go south in a hurry for the G-Men.