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The Third Receiver

Even if Steve Smith comes back, he might not be ready to play week 1. And even if he is, we don’t know how productive he will be. Knee injuries can be tricky. So it’s safe to assume that the Giants will start the season with a new third receiver. The first two wideouts are set: Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. We here at the Gab think they’re primed for huge years, with Nicks being a Pro Bowl candidate. And while the Giants are lucky to have two top flight receivers, you need at least three to be productive. Hell, you really need four. But, we’ll stick with the third today. The Giants have a bunch of candidates: We’ll review them and make our recommendation.

THE CANDIDATES (in no particular order):

  • Domenik Hixon
  • Victor Cruz
  • Devin Thomas
  • Michael Clayton
  • Duke Calhoun
  • Jerrel Jernigan
  • Ramses Barden
  • Darius Reynaud


Domenik Hixon is coming off a knee injury, but he has looked good in camp. We know he’s explosive, and he very well might be the kick returner. He has some problems with drops (most notably, the game after Plax shot himself against the Iggles. Wide open for a touchdown. Dropped it.) Still he knows the offense, he knows what he’s doing out there, and he’s not going to embarrass you. He has the most experience with the team. It says here that he’s most likely the leader in the clubhouse. Does that mean he’s the man for the job? Remains to be seen. He wouldn’t be a bad option.


Other than his stellar preseason game last year, we don’t know much about Cruz. We know that, against 2nd and 3rd team defenses, he would be a star. But the game isn’t played against 2nd and 3rd team defenses. Cruz has to prove himself outside of that game. He obviously has talent. He can get downfield, and he’s good in traffic. He’s tough. He really needs to prove himself, and he’ll be given that chance in preseason. What he does with it will go a long way towards determining his roster status.


Other than a gruesome finger injury, Thomas has had a really good camp. A former 2nd round pick (who many thought would be a 1st round pick), it has not clicked yet for Thomas. He has a world of talent. He’s showing it in camp. Great speed, can make plays in the open field. Showed that he can be a special teams force. If he’s hungry enough, which I think he is, and which he said he is (he wants to prove the Redskins wrong) then Thomas could be a steal. Like Cruz, I need to see it against first team defenses. I’m really intrigued by his skill set. If he performs well in the preseason, he could be your third receiver.


Clayton has at least two good accomplishments on his resume: He has a 1,000 yard season under his belt. He shares the same name as the George Clooney movie. Other than that, Clayton has rapidly declined. He burst onto the scene with the Bucs in his rookie year, gaining over 1,000 yards. And it’s all been downhill from there. I really don’t know what happened. I don’t think anyone does. The Bucs had QB problems, sure, but such a dramatic drop is unusual. Here’s the drop:

  • 1,193
  • 372
  • 356
  • 301
  • 484
  • 230
  • 19 (in 6 games with the Giants)

Yikes. Yes his receptions were down a lot (80 in his first year, no more than 40 in a season since). But why? Like I said, the Bucs had awful QBs. But you can still put up decent numbers. On a bad team, you’re going to put up numbers, because you’re always behind. He obviously had talent. Does he still have it? I don’t know. He’s a veteran, and the most veteran receiver the Giants have. That’s valuable. He’s just such an enigma. You honestly don’t know what you’re going to get.


The Duke was a surprise addition to the roster last year. He made it as a gunner. And he really didn’t do that well. He has great speed and has a similar build to Randy Moss. But not a similar skill set. He’s raw as a route runner. He might work as a deep threat, but as we know from the Sinorice Moss days, the Giants don’t really utilize that. Calhoun could make the team as a special teamer. I just don’t see him as a wideout.


When the Giants drafted Jernigan, I was ecstatic. He was one of my favorite players from the pre-draft process. I loved how fast he was. I loved how he was a terror in space. He can make guys miss. He’s a gamebreaker. He has a little DeSean Jackson in him. Jernigan has had a pretty good camp. To me, he would make a great third receiver. Give him the ball across the middle, and watch him go. Line him up in the slot. Give him screens. He has dynamic skills. I do worry about his rawness. He played at Troy; he hasn’t faced top notch coverage yet. I don’t think he will be the third receiver immediately. He’ll start on special teams and in special packages designed for him. As he gets more comfortable with reading coverages and facing pro defenses, he could easily slide into that third receiver spot.


Oh, Ramses. What happened? You came in with so much potential. With injuries and stones for hands, you’ve been set back. I was very intrigued by his size. I predicted 10 touchdowns for him because of his size. He would make a great red zone threat. He hasn’t been on the field enough. He came from Cal Poly, so he had a lot to learn. He also got Plax comparisons, which were really unfair. The only thing they have in common is size. Plax is much faster and can separate from defenses better. He knows how to use his body more than Ramses does. I fear that Ramses is on his last legs here. He’s on the PUP right now, and Coughlin publicly called him out. It’s make or break time for Mr. Barden. And right now he’s on the exercise bike.

(Interesting side note. A friend of mine, who, in full disclosure, is a Cal Poly alum, suggested moving Barden to tight end. He certainly has the size. He would need to bulk up, a lot. He’s at 227. He would need to gain like 25 pounds. It’s certainly doable.)


Don’t laugh. (Okay, you can perhaps snicker). Reynaud has had a very good camp. We only know him as a returner, and he’s not a good one. We don’t know him as a wideout. If he continues his good camp play, he could sneak onto the roster. Not the first choice, though, for third receiver.


There are three main candidates, in my mind, for this position: Domenik Hixon, Jerrel Jernigan and Devin Thomas. The others have skill, but not more than these guys. Reynaud and Calhoun are fringe roster spots. Clayton and Cruz are battling it out for special teams play. I think that Ramses might find his way on IR. It’s really between Hixon, Jernigan and Thomas. It could any of the three ways, but I think the 3rd receiver to start out will be Domenik Hixon. He has the most experience in this offense and has the most familiarity with Eli. If he’s as explosive post injury as he was before it, he could put up some numbers. I’m really intrigued by Thomas, but as of now, it’s all potential. Jernigan needs to get gameplay as well, plus he’s just too raw. If it was up to me, which it’s not, I would go with Hixon. We’ll see what the Giants end up doing.

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10 Responses to “The Third Receiver”

  1. Chris says:

    I’d like to see Cruz get the start. If he doesn’t do as well, I’d like to see Hixon and Clayton.

  2. Eric says:

    Good article.

  3. Jason C. says:

    The real question is, who will be the 7th receiver (assuming they hold 7 over 6)? Honestly, I’d rather Hixon and Thomas make the team over Barden as they are much more productive on Special Teams. If they don’t bring Smith back this might be easier, but I expect them to.
    About the Barden TE experiment. If he can’t play Special Teams, couldn’t get onto the field last year, and people STILL think he has a lot to learn about playing WR after being in the league a couple of years, there’s NO way he learns TE in time to start the season. This would be a 2013 move if any, and I don’t expect him to be around that long, I don’t expect him to make the roster this year in fact.

  4. Michael S says:

    Good article and barden at te might work!

  5. Scott says:

    What happened to Derek Hagan? I really liked him last year.

  6. LIGiantfan says:

    Barden has more to learn? Are we talking Einsteins Theory of Relativity or football? He’s surrounded by coaches, more experienced players, playbooks, video and still can’t learn how to read defense, run routes and catch balls?

    Barden’s either lazy or stupid.

  7. David says:

    As a former receiver, I always find it interesting when people suggest a WR moving to TE. Not gonna happen. It would be 50 x more likely that Will Beatty would move to TE than Ramses Barden. The position is far too physical for wide receivers to play.

    • MTL Big Mike says:

      @ David.. Earnest Wilford made the switch.. Just so u know, most Otackles these days played TE in college and got moved to tackle cuz they werent athlectic enough. Barden would make a good pass catching TE like Martellus Bennett with the Cowgirls.. Hes obvs bigger but they have the same body type. he could do it!

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