NY Giants: Full Position Breakdown and Depth-Chart Analysis at Wide Receiver
When Eli Manning heaves it up in 2014, who will be on the other end hauling it in?
Probably one of the 11 wide receivers on this list.
The New York Giants featured a floundering passing game a season ago, with 27 of Manning's passes being intercepted and only 18 going for touchdowns. That ratio must be flipped in 2014 if the Giants want to improve upon the 7-9 record they posted last fall.
This positional breakdown will be a little different than the quarterback and running back breakdowns published in the previous weeks. Instead of starting at the top of the depth chart, we will begin at the bottom of the pecking order and work our way up to New York's premier pass-catcher.
This slideshow will offer a complete breakdown of the Giants' wide receiver positional unit heading into training camp.
11. Travis Harvey
Travis Harvey will be a camp body for the Giants this summer.
Signed the same day as tight end Kellen Davis, Harvey spent last summer with the Tennessee Titans but did not make the roster. Little is known about the 24-year-old receiver, who played in just 12 college games and recorded less than 1,000 yards at Florida A&M, an FCS program.
A scouting report by draftinsider.net describes Harvey as a "developmental prospect who should get consideration on the practice squad." It is possible for the 6'2", 185-pound pass-catcher to land on the Giants' practice squad by the end of the summer, but he is just as likely to get lost in the mix.
10. Corey Washington
Corey Washington ranks one spot higher than Travis Harvey on this list due to one factor: size.
Washington, who stands 6'4", is the tallest of all New York's receivers. The Giants receiving corps, as a whole, lacks ideal height; six of the 11 Big Blue pass-catchers are 6' or shorter. Washington could stand out simply because he is the easiest one to pick out of a crowd.
Working against Washington this summer is his collegiate experience. His playing time at Newberry College, a D-II program, is valued even less than Harvey's FCS competition. Although Washington caught 22 touchdowns in two seasons at Newberry, it will take more than an additional inch or two for him to amount to much more than a camp body this summer.
9. Marcus Harris
After having his jersey number, 13, hijacked by first-round draft choice Odell Beckham Jr., Marcus Harris will wear No. 18 this summer.
If that doesn't spell camp body, then I don't know what does.
Harris was with the Tennessee Titans during the summer of 2012, but he did not end up making the roster. The Giants then picked him up a year later, and he spent the 2013 season on New York's practice squad. At the conclusion of the season, Harris signed a reserve/future contract with the Giants.
During the 2013 Arena Football League season—which runs from March until the end of July—Harris was a member of the Iowa Barnstormers. The 6'1", 187-pound receiver racked up 1,223 yards and 19 touchdowns on 94 receptions.
Don't expect that type of production out of Harris in 2014, as he tries out for the AFL's outdoor counterpart.
8. Preston Parker
Preston Parker stands just a few steps higher than the previously mentioned pass-catchers because of his NFL experience.
Parker overcame legal troubles as a Florida State Seminole, finished his collegiate career at North Alabama and, eventually, made an NFL roster with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after going undrafted. He caught 40 passes for 522 yards and three touchdowns through two seasons as a Buc.
In 2012, Parker was released by the Bucs and did not resurface until the New Orleans Saints gave him a shot to make their team last summer. He failed to become a member of Drew Brees' vaunted passing arsenal, and he will start back at square one with the Giants this summer.
Parker is a very standard 6', 200 pounds and is 27 years old.
7. Mario Manningham
Some may be surprised at how low Mario Manningham ranks on this depth chart, but the truth is that he is no longer the toe-tapping, sideline-snagging superhero New York remembers from Super Bowl XLVI.
That knee injury is exactly what's setting Manningham back on this list. It has kept him out of OTAs, although he projects to be ready by training camp. Once healthy, there is room for him to climb the depth chart. Until then, however, he remains on the outside looking in.
Before Manningham's injury in San Francisco, he was a productive receiver with the Giants. Through four seasons in New York, he caught 160 passes for 2,315 yards and 18 touchdowns.
He will try to rekindle that old spark wearing jersey No. 86 this summer, as opposed to his old No. 82, now worn by Rueben Randle.
6. Julian Talley
Julian Talley is an oft-forgotten name, but one that has the potential to be as big as Victor Cruz.
Talley, like Cruz, is a former undrafted free agent out of Massachusetts. He first joined the Giants in 2012 but was cut during training camp. After spending the spring and early summer of 2013 with the Pittsburgh Power of the Arena Football League, where he recorded 74 receptions for 821 yards and 17 touchdowns, he returned to Giants training camp and made the practice squad.
When Corey Webster finally went on injured reserve in December, Talley was called up from the practice squad. He saw time in the final two games of the season but did not catch a pass.
This is a player the Giants like, as evidenced by his slow but steady progression within the franchise. The next step for him is to make the 53-man roster, which he can do by staying healthy and beating out the unconvincing cast of pass-catchers already mentioned on this list.
5. Trindon Holliday
Trindon Holliday, a 2014 free agent acquisition from Denver, sneaks in as No. 5 in this analysis of the Giants' 11 pass-catchers.
If Holliday makes the 53-man roster, his primary function will be as a kick returner—not a receiver. The former Texan and Bronco has turned a few heads during OTAs, however, with his ability as a receiver. As Dan Graziano of ESPN explains, that's expected of a 5'5", 166-pound jitterbug sprinting down the sidelines during non-contact workouts.
In training camp and full-contact preseason games, Holliday's effectiveness as a receiver will dwindle. Outside of the return game, in which he is extremely adept, Holliday will only be effective with the ball in space. That does not bode well for his chances on the outside, where he will have to fend off a much larger defensive back, or in the slot, where he will have to catch the ball in traffic.
Still, Holliday will be an interesting name to keep an eye on this summer, even if he sinks a bit on this list.
4. Jerrel Jernigan
Jerrel Jernigan was piping hot toward the end of last season, and it remains to be seen if he has cooled down at all over the long offseason.
For almost three full seasons, Jernigan was a total non-factor whenever he stepped foot on the field. Then, quite suddenly, in place of an injured Victor Cruz during the final two-and-a-half games of the 2013 season, Jernigan emerged as a multi-dimensional threat.
During that late-season stretch, Jernigan recorded 237 yards and two touchdowns on 19 receptions, as well as a 49-yard end-around rush for a score.
Jernigan is a suitable replacement for Victor Cruz, if the starting slot receiver were to lose a game or two to injury in 2014. However, Jernigan—at 5'8", 189 pounds—is not the ideal "next man up" if he is asked to replace one of the outside receivers.
If New York's new-look offense can find creative ways to get the speedy Jernigan the ball in space, he could enjoy his most productive season as a Giants receiver in 2014.
3. Odell Beckham Jr.
There's a lot to be excited about when it comes to 2014 first-round selection Odell Beckham Jr., who was selected 12th overall out of LSU.
Scouts say Beckham is an exceptional route-runner and one of the purest pass-catchers in this year's draft class. He runs a sub-4.5-second 40-yard dash, and his leaping ability makes up for his sub-6' height. He's the type of receiver who causes quarterbacks to salivate, so say those who believe the hype.
So why does Beckham not rank higher on this positional breakdown?
He is a rookie, of course. And just because Tom Coughlin has a new offensive coordinator in Ben McAdoo, that doesn't mean he's going to completely forfeit his coaching philosophy, allow this hotshot to march onto the field and turn over the offensive spotlight to a rookie. No, Beckham will earn his reps—just like everyone else fighting for a roster spot.
Beckham's going to see the field—and the ball—a lot in 2014. With "flashes like a DeSean Jackson" during OTAs, it will be tough to deny him that. Just don't expect him to take over as the focal point of the offense as a rookie.
2. Rueben Randle
Now heading into his third NFL training camp, Rueben Randle just barely edges out his former college teammate Odell Beckham Jr. for the No. 2 spot on this depth-chart analysis.
If you can't tell by now, I think size matters when it comes to receivers—especially with monster-sized defensive backs, like Seattle's, surfacing across the league. Randle is New York's only projected starter with size as an advantage; the 2012 second-round selection (63 overall) out of LSU is 6'2" and 208 pounds.
The knock on Randle was never his athleticism or ability to catch the ball, it was his miscommunication with the quarterback and inability to apply the offensive concepts with consistency. Now, playing in a simpler scheme described by Randle as "pretty much black and white" (h/t Jordan Raanan/NJ.com), there should be no reason why he cannot thrive with the Giants in 2014.
Some fans are quick to write off Randle after New York used a first-round selection on a receiver in this year's draft. However, it should be noted that despite his mental errors, Randle still led the team with six touchdown catches in 2013. Not an astronomical figure, but it's six more than Hakeem Nicks recorded.
Randle could develop into a viable No. 1 outside receiving target this season—his first with Nicks out of the picture.
1. Victor Cruz
Believe what you want about the slot receiver position, but it is quickly becoming one of the most valuable in professional football.
With more three-wide receiver sets on the slate in 2014, the Giants are lucky to have Victor Cruz at their disposal. A shifty receiver that consistently displays great chemistry with the quarterback, Cruz is an excellent example of the NFL's quintessential inside-passing threat.
If Cruz leads all Giants receivers in yardage again this season, it will be the fourth consecutive season he has done so. The 6', 204-pound former undrafted free agent out of Massachusetts has carved out a super-sized role for himself in New York.
Cruz tops all other receivers on this depth-chart analysis due to his unmatched body of work, consistency and value as a slot receiver—one of the NFL's fastest-rising positions.
*All roster information courtesy of Giants.com.
**All statistical information courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, unless noted otherwise.