Will Giants' Mario Manningham Be Super Bowl Or Super Bust?

George FitzpatrickCorrespondent IApril 28, 2008

The New York Giants must feel that more magic is imminent after the divine miracle known as Super Bowl XLII, because they might need the help of God to get through to their latest 3rd Round pick.

His name is Mario Manningham, and is well known throughout college football with the reputation as a dynamic playmaker with a ton of leaping ability coming off an incredible junior year, racking up incredible numbers 1174 yards and 12 touchdowns as a Michigan Wolverine. However, he has also produced numbers that are much more troubling - as in 2 positive drug tests and a Wonderlic score of 6 out of a possible 50.

Football history is littered with guys who fit Manningham's profile - talented wide receivers who can entertain you on the field and infuriate you off the field. We remember when Keyshawn just wanted you to give him the damn ball, we remember when TO went from insisting Jeff Garcia was a homosexual and calling Donovan McNabb a choker to tearfully defending "his quarterback," Tony Romo. We are currently experiencing Ocho Cinco go Mucho Loco due to yet another Drew Rosenhaus induced contract holdout.

Oh, and the most talented receiver ever, Randy Moss? He goes from getting thrown out of two colleges for behavioral problems (including Florida State, which in itself is an accomplishment), then becomes a record breaking superstar, then becomes a selfish headcase who refuses to practice, and finishes it off by again becoming a record breaking superstar.

Must be something about catching the football - and I would be less worried if Manningham were actually as talented as any of the players I mentioned. But he isn't, and it isn't close either.

Manningham is 5'11" and under 180 pounds, meaning he doesn't have great size for a receiver. This would be more acceptable if he had 4.3 speed, but he clocked in at 4.55 at the combine and it took hiring an agent to get himself back in shape. Comments like "he simply knows how to get open" seem to translate into "overrated" in my mind. Yes, being a good route runner with excellent leaping ability counts for something, but he is not a great athlete and doesn't have exceptional talent - and that's something that makes the risk by the Giants more puzzling. You can justify it if he has the potential to be a future #1 threat, but even if he pans out, it is hard to imagine him as anything more then a decent #2.

In terms of the other issues, the Wonderlic score of 6 is extremely troubling, as according to the approximate formula for translating Wonderlic score to IQ (IQ = 40 + Score(2)), means Mario's IQ is around 72. That is troubling, considering 70 is considered mentally retarded by the CDC. Many feel the score is meaningless, but when a draftee is considered borderline retarded, that should cause many teams to take a step back.

In a country like the US, where marijuana use, although illegal, is pervasive; it does not surprise me that Manningham has used it. I'm not about to start a debate about the safety of the drug, but suffice it to say that I wouldn't want one of my players using it if I were a coach or GM. Why? Because when your job entails running faster than other people, it is not exactly a great idea to be smoking anything.

The Giants seem to be a decent situation for him, as they have already made a legitimate star out of headcase Plaxico Burress, who was once called "Plexiglas" by Shannon Sharpe for being soft, but ended up playing through an ankle injury that would put even the toughest players on the IR. He is also a decent fit with Manning, who seems to do well with (read: needs) receivers who can leap for the ball.

Coughlin, although he softened this year, is still a disciplinarian and may be just the medicine Manningham needs, in the way Parcells got the best out of Keyshawn. He also is going to a winning team, and that seems to affect players like Chad Johnson and Moss. However, the Giants have already used 3 recent 2nd rounders on talented receivers (Tim Carter, Sinorice Moss, and the other Steve Smith), who, despite rare flashes of their ability, have not come close to meeting expectations - and none of these guys carried the baggage of Manningham.

I am willing to grant Jerry Reese the benefit of the doubt, considering his last draft provided some immediate success. However, Giants fans have already been awarded one miracle by beating the greatest team of the salary cap era, and doubt the Lord has another one lined up.

Maybe we finally have our successor to Amani Toomer - but I doubt that when the Giants move into their new stadium in 2010 that the fans inside it will have Manningham on the backs of their jerseys.