Ever since the second coming of the "Shot Heard Around the World" on the night of November 29th, 2008 the Giants have faced the same question. Will they be able to overcome the loss of Plaxico Burress? Everyone with a football IQ was able to see that the Giants were not the same down the stretch of the season. Teams no longer used a corner back and a safety to shadow Burress and this slowed down the Giants run game. On top of that, Eli Manning lost his safety blanket.
Going into the off season, everyone knew this was the Giants glaring weakness and all wondered how Jerry Reese would address it. Would they trade for a high profile receiver? Would they trade up in the draft for a better prospect? Just stay put and settle with who was available?
As trade winds swirled, the Giants were constantly linked to Braylon Edwards, Chad Ochocinco, and Anquan Boldin. Now with late breaking news that Brandon Marshall wants out of Denver, lets add him to the list too.
The Giants stayed put and drafted Hakeem Nicks with the 29th overall pick, and then moved up six spots in the third round to draft Ramses Barden with the 85th overall pick.
Lets take a look at what each player brings to the table.
Braylon Edwards - Leading up to the NFL draft, there were constant rumors that Edwards was going to be a Giant and it was practically a done deal. His former teammate, Kellen Winslow now playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers spoke out and said how Braylon would be a great fit for the Giants and in New York.
Good - Edwards is a big play receiver with the size the Giants crave, standing 6'3'' and weighing 215 pounds. In 2007, Edwards was a Pro-Bowl player with 80 receptions for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns. He can spread the defense and draw the double teams that Burress often commanded.
Bad - Edwards can be seen as a diva, and at times struggles catching the ball, leading the league in drops in 2008. Last season there was a huge drop in production with only 55 catches for 873 yards and 3 touchdowns. Some people may point to the Browns' quarterback situation for the lack of production. There were many various reports about what the Browns were asking for in return for Edwards, but "close sources" believe it was a 1st round draft choice.
Anquan Boldin - After the Cardinals improbable run in the 2008 playoffs, some Cardinals players (Boldin and Darnell Dockett to be exact) felt they should be getting paid more money. Boldin wanted his contract restructured or to be traded. Well neither has happened yet, but with his recent firing of his agent, things could change.
Good - Boldin is tough as nails after the vicious hit he received last season versus the Jets that practically broke his face. Boldin has been productive his entire career, and is not afraid to go across the middle. He proved he could be a No. 1 receiver in an offense before Larry Fitzgerald ever came to town.
Bad - Boldin wants to be paid Larry Fitzgerald type money, which is about 10 million a year. For the Giants to have acquired him, it is rumored that it would have cost them at least their 1st and a 3rd round draft pick.
Chad Ochocinco - Lately in Cincinatti, it seems every off season there is talk about Chad "Formerly known as Johnson" Ochocinco to be on the trading block and that he wants out. Nobody questions his talent, but teams are scared away of the presumed Terrell Owens syndrome he has, and that he has the ability to tear a locker room apart.
Good - Chad was one of the best wide receivers in the league stretching from 2002 - 2007 and had the respect of all opposing defensive coordinators. Ochocinco has the ability to stretch the defense and has the speed to burn the best corners in the league.
Bad - All the attention he brings to himself, and knowing the locker room can be torn by him. Coming off of a sub par season in 2008, where he was injured, people question if he still has the desire to be one of the best receivers in the league.
Brandon Marshall - The Denver Broncos have had quite the off season, with a new coach coming in, and the departure of Jay Cutler. Marshall could be next. Last Friday, Marshall met with the owner of the Broncos, Pat Bowlen. He was seen leaving with boxes and has no intentions of returning. Marshall is now demanding to be traded because he doesn't like his contract (what's new?) and doesn't like where the organization is heading.
Good - Marshall is the youngest player (not named Hakeem or Ramses) on this list, only 25 years old. He is 6'4'' and weighs 230 pounds, goes across the middle, has terrific hands and great speed. His rookie season was what you would expect from a rookie, but his last two seasons have been phenomenal. In the last two seasons combined he has 206 catches for 2,590 yard and 13 touchdown catches.
Bad - Legal troubles. Definitely not what you want to hear after the recent Plaxico Burress. He is almost at Adam "Pacman" Jones territory, having seven different incidents with the law since being drafted. At some point, teams have to decide is the potential worth the risk? On top of that, he had minor hip surgery in April.
Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden - The Giants hope these two rookies are the answer to their biggest question mark on the roster. Two is better than one. Instead of losing draft picks, the Giants decided to work through the draft.
Good - Hakeem Nicks was seen as one of the most "NFL ready" prospects in this year's draft, and possess' monstrous sized hands, toting 4 XL gloves. Nicks is not afraid to go across the middle and has the ability to catch every ball thrown his way. Ramses Barden is 6'6'' and 230 pounds, with basketball in his background. Don't be surprised to see Barden used in the "green-zone" for the fade route and the jump balls.
Bad - To state the obvious, they are both rookies. The Giants are ready to contend for the Lombardi Trophy now, and rookies rarely have impacts in their inaugural season. Both players are unproven in the NFL, and so far to this point, nobody knows what type of production they can expect.
All Giants fans abide to the unwritten law of "In Jerry We Trust." Jerry Reese has had great success to this point as the general manager and has made all the right moves to this point. This off season was filled with rumors and big play receivers that many people feel the Giants need if they want to stand on top of the mountain again.
As it may seem the Giants are content with their receivers going into the 2009 season, keep in mind last off season right before training camp they dealt Jeremy Shockey after many people thought he would stay a Giant after the NFL Draft ended. If the Giants aren't happy with what they see through training camp, don't be surprised to see one of these big play receivers in Giants' blue in the fall.