One of the picks the New York Giants used in the 2011 NFL Draft was Jerrel Jernigan—Troy wide receiver—in the third round. The pick was not without criticism as the Giants had not yet addressed the offensive line position.
Only two offensive lineman were taken in the third round, and both were offensive tackles who had late third to fourth round grades. Jernigan was a projected second round and the value was too much to pass up.
The Giants do not have someone on the roster with Jernigan's speed at the wide receiver position. He ran a 4.43 at the NFL Combine and also reportedly has been clocked in the 4.3 range in college.
He played multiple positions in college, and while the Giants are closer to running the wild cat than I am to making the team, it is his open field running that had the Giants scouts drooling.
Jernigan's short term prospects are not clear because Steve Smith is still rehabbing from major knee surgery. If Smith comes back productive, Jernigan's likely spot will be as the team's punt returner.
Domenik Hixon has proven himself to be a very solid kickoff returner, but lacks the agility, speed, and open field movement that Jernigan possesses.
It's those same qualities that make Jernigan a threat to be a slot receiver if Smith does not come back at 100 percent. If that's the case, we better hope Eli Manning and his receivers are getting everything they can from these workouts at Hoboken High.
Training camp is essential for quarterbacks and wide receivers to work out the kinks in their chemistry, and Jernigan being a rookie will only set back his development if the lockout is not resolved.
If he gets that chance to prove himself at camp, I wouldn't be surprised to see him move his way up the depth chart and get some playing time at wide receiver. If not, I fear his role will be downgraded to special teams contributor.