There are many questions surrounding New York’s current receiving corps, even with the additions of Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden.
Can they be consistent?
Can they draw double teams?
Can Eli continue his winning ways with such raw receivers?
The answers to these questions will be crucial in determining how far New York will go in 2009.
Of all the players New York could have drafted, Hakeem Nicks is the one who will help them most in December and January.
Though Hixon and Smith are currently penciled in as the starters, there is no doubt that New York will start Nicks should he perform well in training camp.
There are several aspects to Nicks’ game that will help him thrive in The NFL early and often.
North Carolina’s Pro-Style Offense
People talk about how Nicks came from a pro-style offense, but the importance of it is simply not emphasized enough.
Furthermore, Nicks knows how to adjust every route, move defenders, gain leverage on them, and find open spaces on the field.
The reason that so many wide receivers struggle to make it in the NFL—especially early on—is because they have yet to do any of those things over the course of their career.
After watching Brandon Jacobs flatten defenders week in and week out, Giants fans have a special affinity for the physical aspect of the game.
That being the case, Hakeem Nicks may quickly become a fan favorite.
Nicks has incredible ability in the underneath passing game, as he shields defenders off of his body with ease and plays much bigger than he is.
Down the stretch in the 2008 season, opponents used six and seven-man blitz packages, as they did not respect New York’s underneath passing game. The only real presence Big Blue had underneath was Kevin Boss, who could easily be eliminated with the proper coverage.
Furthermore, most of Smith’s routes took too long to develop and Hixon was shut down in man coverage.
This left Eli with nowhere to go with the ball on a number of occasions.
When the wind is swirling and the temperatures are freezing, an inside physical presence is crucial to offensive success.
In December and January, the skills of a player like Nicks come in very handy. Nicks alone may not force opponents to move their safeties off the line of scrimmage, but he will be a crucial part of the offensive balance which will eventually force opponents to do so.