New York Giants: Why Hakeem Nicks Is Underrated

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New York Giants: Why Hakeem Nicks Is Underrated
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Since leaving the University of North Carolina and joining the New York Giants, Hakeem Nicks has been one of the most dominating wide receivers in the NFL.

Don't believe me?

When comparing rookie receiving stats from 2009, Nicks' rookie campaign saw him tie fellow Percy Harvin for the most receiving yards for a rookie with 790, and Nicks had 13 less receptions.  Nicks finished his rookie season with six touchdowns, one behind league leader Austin Collie; his five plays of 40+ yards put him in second for all rookies, behind Pittsburgh's Mike Wallace.

He finished 2009 averaging 56.4 yards per game, trailing only Michael Crabtree for most yards per game by a rookie, who averaged 56.8.  While Nicks finished second in nearly every top-receiving category, no other rookie was consistently above him (Collie led in TDs and rec, Crabtree led in YPG, Wallace led in 40+ yard plays).

Nicks' 2010 season was his breakout year.  He finished with 79 receptions, 1,052 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging 80.9 YPG.  The only second-year player to gain more yards was Wallace; Nicks out-played his fellow sophomores mentioned above, besting them in receptions, touchdowns and yards per game. 

In fact, Nicks finished 2010 tied for fourth in the league for most receiving touchdowns, finishing with more TDs than superstars such as Andre Johnson, Antonio Gates, Larry Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne, Brandon Marshall, Roddy White, T.O., Jason Witten, Anquan Boldin, Marques Colston and Miles Austin.

Oh yeah, and he did all of this while missing three games.

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Yet somehow he slipped under the radar and was only selected as a third alternate for the NFC Pro Bowl.  Instead, wideouts DeSean Jackson, Miles Austin, Steve Smith (NYG) and Roddy White were selected as the main four receivers. 

White was the only receiver out of the four Pro Bowlers above to top Nicks in receiving yards.  Aside from White, Nicks had more receptions, yards and touchdowns than Jackson, Austin, and Smith.

Where's the love?

So far this season, Nicks has put up a respectable 32 receptions, 508 yards and three touchdowns (including a gorgeous end-zone grab against the Rams where he snatched what was supposed to be a back shoulder fade out from in front of the defender, displaying his great hands). He is averaging 84.7 yards per game, which is still more than other big name guys like Colston, DeSean Jackson, Bowe, Witten and Wayne.

Nicks' production this season, while solid, reflects the emergence of human highlight reel Victor Cruz.  Still, Nicks is continuing to put up concrete numbers in 2011, just as he did in 2009 and 2010.

The schedule only gets tougher for the G-Men after their bye week, but don't be surprised to see No. 88 putting up big numbers in the second half of the season.

It's time to give credit where credit is due.

 

(All stats via NFL.com)

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