Super Mario Manningham Shows the New York Giants He Has Serious Game

Pro Football NYCSenior Writer ISeptember 14, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 13:  Mario Manningham #82 of the New York Giants runs in a second quarter touchdown against the Washington Redskins on September 13, 2009 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Had Mario Manningham stayed at the University of Michigan for his senior year, there is little doubt that he would have been taken in the first or second round of this year’s NFL Draft.

Instead, Manningham left Michigan after head coach Lloyd Carr retired in 2007, choosing to forego his final year of eligibility and try his luck in the NFL.

The New York Giants were looking for a young receiver to backfill the potential void that would be left by Amani Toomer, also a former Wolverine, who they did not plan to re-sign after the 2008 season.

Manningham fit the mold perfectly. After seeing him grab 72 receptions for 1,174 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior in 2007, Giants’" onclick="return(Jiglu.overlayOpen(this))">the Giants selected Manningham in the third round of the 2008 draft, but soon would realize that the college wunderkind was still a bit green.

Before the draft, scouts had downgraded Manningham because he had failed several drug tests for marijuana and his reported Wonderlic score was 6 out 50. But in all actuality, he was just another kid and neither of those things kept the Giants from drafting him. He has been nothing but a hard worker and a team player since he arrived here.

The truth about the rookie wideout was that the explosiveness was there but his frame was slight and he could not tangle with with pro defensive backs the way he did on the collegiate level. He got touched up in training camp, which sent him to the bottom of the team’s depth chart.

The Giants didn’t really need Manningham to produce right out of the box. Toomer was still in front of him as was Plaxico Burress, Steve Smith and Sinorice Moss.

He was at least a year away.

That year is here. Manningham has become a favorite target of QB Eli Manning, working from the slot as well as the outside. The electricity he had in Ann Arbor is now being displayed in East Rutherford.

Yesterday, Super Mario was one of seven receivers that caught passes for the Giants, but it was his elusive 30-yard tap dance down the sideline for the team’s only offensive touchdown that had people talking.

The usually grounded Manning seemed excited about his newest weapon. “Mario did some real good things today. He’s got a lot of ability. That touchdown pass was all him. That’s what we need…our receivers to makes some plays, make guys miss and get some yards after the catch.”

Manningham downplayed his efforts. “I was trying not to run out of bounds. We work on that in practice. I’m just one receiver in our receiver corp. We all can make plays.”

Not like that. His moves may just be a preview to a long and productive career for the New York Football Giants.