2009 New York Giants' Receiver Outlook

Jerry FrasierContributor IApril 29, 2009

CHAPEL HILL, NC - NOVEMBER 08:  Receiver Hakeem Nicks #88 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the game at Kenan Stadium on November 8, 2008 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

After the 2008 season ended, the Giants lost two key receivers. They lost Amani Toomer to free agency and cut Plaxico Burress due to legal problems (that we all know). 

Last season, these two receivers combined for 83 receptions, 1034 yards, and eight touchdowns.  These two receivers were the top producers for the Giants this year, and they will clearly be hard to replace.

Rumors swirled about the Giants trading for Anquan Boldin, Braylon Edwards, or Chad Johnson. As the draft rolled closer, the trades did not work themselves out, and the Giants were forced to look to the draft to replace their star receivers.

The Giants drafted two receivers in this year’s draft, Hakeem Nicks in the first found and Ramses Barden in the third round.

The Giants currently have eight receivers on the payroll. It is likely that only five of the receivers will make the team and the rest will be placed on the practice squad.  The eight receivers are Hakeem Nicks, Ramses Barden, Dominick Hixon, Steve Smith, David Tyree, Sinorice Moss, Mario Manningham, and Derek Hagen.  These receivers will all enter summer camp on the same level and will be fighting for these five spots on the team.

This article will analyze each receiver and decide who these five roles go to and which of these receivers get to spend their season on the practice squad at this moment in time.

WR 1: Dominick Hixon  (Height : 6-2 ; Weight: 182)

Dominick Hixon became the replacement for Plaxico Burress after he went down with his bizarre injury.  Hixon ended the season with 596 receiving yards, two touchdowns, and 42.6 yards per game. Hixon had a great season, and his stats are skewed by the fact that he was not a starting receiver the whole season.  Hixon is a big target like Eli Manning likes, but he is no Plaxico Burress. He does not have the leaping and the ability to catch any ball like Burress.

Hixon will more than likely enter the season as the Giants No. 1 receiver. As the season goes on, he might not prove to have the talent for the No. 1 spot, and by the end of the season, he may be replaced by rookie Hakeem Nicks.

WR 2: Hakeem Nicks (Height: 6-1 ; Weight: 212)

The Giants selected Hakeem Nicks with the 29th pick in the draft. The Giants selected him hoping he could fill one of the holes at wide receiver after departures of Plaxico Burress and Armani Toomer.

Nicks had a great career at UNC, and experts believe he is the most NFL-ready receiver in the draft. Nicks received for 2,840 yards and 21 touchdowns during his colligate career.

He has good leaping ability and may be able to run Burress’ patented fade route.  Nicks also has great catching ability, making several amazing catches during his career at UNC. If he brings this into the NFL, Eli Manning would really appreciate it.

Hakeem Nicks will start the season as the No. 2 receiver in the depth chart.  As the season progresses and he becomes more experienced and better at running routes, he may surpass Hixon as the No. 1 receiver on the team.

WR 3: Steve Smith (Height: 5-11 ; Weight: 195)

Steve Smith is a steady receiver who puts up steady numbers in the NFL.  In the 2008 season, he received 574 yards and one touchdown. Smith has proven in his two years in the NFL that he is a good receiver that can run routes and catch the ball over the middle. Steve Smith has a playing style that can be compared to Wes Welker—a possession receiver that can put up yards.

Steve Smith will fall back into a well known role in the Giants’ depth chart.  He will be a solid receiver in this spot, and Eli Manning will look to him on third-down plays.

Smith may be Manning’s new Amani Toomer in third-down situations. Smith is a receiver that will put up good numbers, even in the third spot.

WR 4: Ramses Barden (Height: 6-6 ; Weight: 229)

In the third round of the draft, the Giants selected Ramses Barden. After losing Eli Manning’s favorite target, 6-foot-5 receiver Plaxico Burress, they may have drafted his future replacement.

The 6-foot-6 receiver has great jumping ability and can probably out-leap any defensive back in the league. He will come in handy in the red zone, where the Giants struggled after losing Burress.  Although he is not completely pro ready yet, he will gain experience as the season goes on.

Barden will start the season in the No. 4 receiver spot. He will get most of his playing time in the red zone, and we may see that corner-fade being thrown to him. If he proves that he can beat defensive backs and can catch a ball at its high point efficiently, he may be able to work his way up the depth chart. If he does not prove himself, he may find himself on the practice squad.

WR 5: Sinorice Moss (Height: 5-8 ; Weight: 185)

Sinorice Moss has been somewhat of a bust in his career as a Giant.  He is still a good receiver that can come in and catch the deep ball.  He will not rack up the stats, and he hasn’t since entering the NFL. He can also return kicks if the Giants ask him to.

Moss will earn the final receiver spot on the depth chart. He will be used to catch the deep ball in desperate situations; otherwise, we won’t see him on the field that much.  He may also return kicks for the Giants, which may give them another reason for him to be on the team.

Who’s Left Out?

David Tyree—The receiver whose catch once won the Giants a Super Bowl will be left off the roster for the second straight season. Although he made that catch, he is still not a great receiver in the NFL and won’t make the 2009 roster.

Mario Manningham—It was once thought that last year he could be the replacement for Burress, but it never happened. Now he will be riding the pine again, because he has very little chance of making the team.

Derek Hagan—He has had a short career and it is already on a downward slide. He only had three receptions in 2008 with the Dolphins. He probably will make a good receiver to let the cornerbacks defend on the practice squad.