N.Y. Giants: Full Position Breakdown and Depth-Chart Analysis at Wide Receiver
The New York Giants have fully embraced the NFL as a passing league during most of quarterback Eli Manning's career. In order to maintain their franchise passer's attack through the air, the Giants are always sure to keep the wide receiver position well-stocked with talented targets.
There are 12 wide receivers on the roster, but only six will make the final cut. At this point during the offseason, the receivers on the roster fall into five main categories: the leading candidates for a starting job, the dark horses, the special teamers, the best of the rest and the camp bodies.
A heated position battle will take place before the Giants decide which receivers are worth retaining for the 2015 season, and this article analyzes the competition. In the slides to follow, we'll start by breaking down the receiving corps' production from last year before diving into this season's depth chart.
2014 Wide Receivers in Review
|Odell Beckham Jr.||91||1,305||12|
Superstar rookie Odell Beckham Jr. powered the Giants offense in 2014. After nursing a hamstring injury all summer and into the regular season, he played the final 12 games the season and took the NFL by statistical and social media storm.
Rueben Randle eventually emerged as a solid secondary target, though only late in the year, long after Victor Cruz suffered a season-ending knee injury. Randle and Cruz combined for just four touchdowns in 2014.
Preston Parker was the Giants' third most productive receiver by the end of the season. Few had the foresight to predict that outcome at this time last year.
After Jerrel Jernigan went on injured reserve, Kevin Ogletree and Corey Washington came on for spot receptions throughout the season. Washington, a preseason star, had one of his five receptions go for a touchdown.
The Leading 2015 Candidates
|Odell Beckham Jr.||5'11"||198||22|
Beckham is showing no signs of slowing down heading into his second year in the league—unless you believe in a video game cover curse. The 22-year-old has already warned the opposition that double-teams will not stop him, and observations from OTAs back up that claim, according to reports by Jordan Raanan of NJ Advance Media.
Beckham teaming up with Randle and a healthy Cruz is a hair-raising combination. The trio has already birthed a social media image as the team's top three receivers, even though Cruz said in late May that he is only "80 percent" healthy, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post.
Randle, on the other hand, benefited late in the season when it became evident that Beckham was uncoverable. Randle is a hot-and-cold receiver whose game sometimes has as many drawbacks as it does merits.
While Cruz and Randle are front-runners to flank Beckham, their roles are not locked in yet in early June, as their health and consistency are still concerning.
The Dark Horses
Pass-catchers tend to spring up in the summer, when padded practices are limited and a dozen wide receivers may run freely to make plays in pass-friendly drills in front of fawning media. A couple of those players were Corey Washington and Marcus Harris last preseason.
Washington produced preseason heroics at a weekly rate in 2014, catching four touchdowns in the preseason—three of them game-winners. He has the size and ball skills to compete for a role on the outside. His hands are exceptional, but Washington could afford to improve as a special teamer and as a route-runner after last season.
Harris is more of a mystery. He lacks Washington's size and would have his best chance to crack the lineup as a slot receiver, a position in which the current starter is injured.
Washington and Harris may not take over Randle's and Cruz's starting jobs, but this sportswriter wouldn't be doing his due diligence if he did not at least present them as likely suspects to do so.
The Special Teamers
A couple of hardworking receivers will always be at an advantage due to their special teams prowess. Those gritty guys for the Giants appear to be Dwayne Harris and Geremy Davis, both newcomers to the team in 2015.
Harris arrived first as a free agent. With the Cowboys, he was a return specialist who got little work on offense. The 2011 sixth-rounder has racked up 3,436 all-purpose yards over the last four seasons, nearly 90 percent of which has come in the kick- and punt-return game. The Giants may offer him more of a chance to get involved in the offense.
Davis, a 2015 sixth-round selection, is being touted as the next David Tyree.
No one is expecting him to catch a football with his helmet. Rather, Davis' college coach at UConn (also Tyree's coach at Syracuse) always told the athletic receiver that he could carve out an NFL career as a top-of-the-line special teamer, using the Super Bowl XLII hero as a specific example, according to Giants.com's Dan Salomone. Not everyone remembers Tyree for his 2005 season, when he made the Pro Bowl for his efforts as a punt gunner on the coverage team and edge-rusher on the punt-return team.
The coaches will fall in love with these players because they appreciate solid special teamers more than the media and fans do.
The Best of the Rest
The Giants have two more familiar receivers on the roster in Preston Parker and Julian Talley.
Parker, as mentioned on the first slide, came in handy last year. Originally, the Giants signed him after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut him. He and Cruz are the Giants' oldest receivers at 28 years old heading into the 2015 season.
Still feeling a lingering hope that Talley may be the next Cruz? This UMass product hasn't rocketed to the same heights as the last one, but he now has his opening. He has lied in waiting on the roster dating back to 2012, even though he has never caught a pass during that time.
Parker and Talley are more valuable than the fresh camp bodies this early in the offseason, solely because they have experience in the NFL and with the Giants.
The Camp Bodies
Juron Criner might the most intriguing of the camp bodies—literally. He is 6’3” and 220 pounds, making him one of the team’s largest receiving targets. He is the only player on this slide with an NFL catch; he had 19 with the Oakland Raiders from 2012 to 2013, totaling 183 yards and a touchdown.
Chris Harper is another receiver with an intriguing build. He is of average height at 6’1”, but he tips the scales at 228 pounds. It’ll be interesting to see how he carries that weight on the field after nondescript stints with the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers in 2013.
Ben Edwards is an undrafted rookie. The Richmond product was productive in college with more than 2,000 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns for the Spiders.
The line between camp body and roster-spot competitor is still blurry in June, so any of these three can develop into dark horses or specialists in the workouts to come.
Kevin Boilard writes about the New York Giants at Bleacher Report.