Everybody says Ruben Randle is NFL ready and I say no he’s not, he’s close though. He has all the tools but does not use them in a manner ready for the NFL right now. He’s still young, he needs a season with the Giants staff to learn the finer points, this off season means a lot of work for this young man. The Giants are good at developing receivers so I expect to see something in the 2012 season and to really come on in 2013. Adrien Robinson is a bit of a question, he’s a freaky athlete with raw ability known in college as a pure blocking tightend, but I would have rather seen a more polished and productive TE drafted and/or signed as a UDFA, they were available. I understand the upside and the way the Giants offense is designed, the tightend is a blocker and last choice to receive a pass. Even when Shockey was here he complained about the system. I’ll also go into some of the receivers the Giants signed as UDFAs in this blog. After viewing film of Randle I was surprised he was not drafted sooner, he has some amazing natural ability and more so than a player I really liked who was drafted sooner, Brain Quick who in my opinion went too soon and was a reach.
Now let’s break it down, at almost 6’3”, 210 pounds and 33” arms, Randle has really nice size for a WR, but ran slow at the Combine with a 4.55/40. He ran much better at his pro day with a 4.43 which proves he has some speed, he lacks top end sprinter speed, does it matter, no it really doesn’t. Randle has functional football speed, for receivers Bill Walsh called it full stride speed. In fact Randle is what Bill Walsh would consider a GREAT receiver prospect if you’ve read some of his writings on this, he would know about receivers. He runs fast enough at full stride as not to be caught from behind, more important it’s all about separation and ability to get open which he needs a little work on. Like all draftees especially juniors he needs to hit the weight room and develop his body. I think he can handle another 5-10 pounds of lean muscle which would help him get separation and fight off defenders. He has good technique in most areas and usually holds the ball high and tight. It’s a matter of getting the good things more consistent as with all rookies and teaching some new techniques.
Randle is said to be a high character person, that fits what the Giants organization is looking for in players. In fact he might just end up being the best player from the Giants 2012 draft. Because of the way television covers football I really was not able to see how he runs his routs that much, what little I did see was very good although he rounds off his cuts instead of sinking his hips to make defined quick squared off cuts which is the proper NFL technique on most routs. Until he learns this on a consistent basis and expands on the routs he can run effectively he will be a slot receiver, even though Gilbride said he would like to keep Cruz in the slot. Randle is said to be a good blocker coming from a run first offense, again due to the way television covers football I was not able to see it.
There is one thing that sets him apart from other receivers, his lower and upper body does not have to be doing the same thing at the same time, I know you just went what. It is most evident when a receiver is running a post, he has to reach back for the ball if it is thrown short, not having to break stride is a big advantage and can lead to long touchdown runs. Randle does not have to break stride, he can twist his upper body and catch the ball. That’s the wow factor, scouts talk about hips and this kid has them, what he does with his upper body does not affect what he is doing with his lower body, to a limit. It’s one of those natural abilities that cannot be taught, it seems as though Reese drafted players that have some type of natural athletic ability others do not. You see this with every catch he makes, not to mention how smooth he is, he glides across the field and looks much faster than his timed speed. He reminds me of Plaxico Burress in so many ways. Look at film of Randle then go look at film of the winning touchdown pass from Eli to Plax in the super bowl, that’s where you really see the resemblance, although Randle is a bit shorter.
My only real matter of contention with Randle is that he catches the ball with his body. He tracks the ball well and can catch it in the air but does not use proper hand technique when he does. It’s a simple adjustment. Maybe it was just the highlights but too many times he likes to cradle his arms and catch it in his body, in the NFL some of those catches would not have been. He is going to have to work at reaching out and grabbing the ball out of the air otherwise the defender will, Nicks excels at this technique especially with those huge hands, Randle does not have big hands and that may be a factor, although he has an advantage with height and long arms. It’s a different game in the NFL, most starting corners and safeties are good athletes too, he’s in for a bit of a shock at how technically sound they are. It’s not always going to be dropping into his hands while he’s wide open, he’s going to be fighting for the ball while in the air much more than he had to in college. The Giants have high hopes for Rueben Randle and after watching film of him so do I.
When I saw this pick I was like WHO, in Reese I trust so before I freaked out I went to find film and watched a bit of Adrien Robinson, there was not much film out there to watch. At 6’4” 264 pounds he is the JPP of tightends, Reese is correct about that, he ran a 4.5/40 and has almost a 40 inch vertical. Just looking at him you can see why he was drafted. It was to be molded into what the Giants do with their tightends which is block first, catch the ball when nobody is open and run with it for YAC. So they have their man, a very raw version though. I can see him being easily able to add 20+ pounds of muscle to his body without losing any athletic ability, becoming a bruising blocker and someone nobody in the secondary wants to have to tackle when he gets the ball.
I don’t expect to see much his first season but after that it’s going to be interesting as Bennett was only signed to a one year contract. Hopefully Beckum and Ballard will be 100% healthy, Bennett will be resigned after a productive breakout season and Robinson turns into a quality professional, that’s a lot of positive thinking on my part. Plus who knows what the Giants draft will look like next year which is a pretty good year for talent, although thin for TEs again. That maybe why Reese has taken this approach. In other words to sum it up I am not crazy about this pick, although I understand it and it might work out in time. We are talking about a lot of work for Robinson to ever be a starting TE in the NFL. Can he do it, that’s the gamble Reese took. He took a raw talent with unlimited upside and said to his coaches make him a player. He has the work ethic and athletic ability so it should be interesting to see if he does. It has been very hard to find any playing film of Robinson, the only thing was two wide open touchdowns and some tape of him doing receiver drills which were impressive. I think this will go down as a wasted pick but I hope not.
Jerry Reese also signed a few UDFA receivers, David Douglas, Julian Talley and Damian Davis. Douglas out of Arizona is 6’ and 206 pounds, he ran a 4.46 40 at his pro day. He is said to be a very solid receiver with good technique and smart, guys like him have a way of making it in the NFL after a few seasons and moving from team to team. Eventually they catch on somewhere and become solid pros. He was the receiver paired with the more notable Juron Criner drafted in the fifth round by the Oakland Raiders. Julian Talley from Massachusetts is 6’ and 190 pounds, he ran a 4.57 40 at his pro day. That’s slow for a WR but if you look at film Talley plays faster, he is a very good receiver. I was able to see some film on him and came away very impressed, he might move Jernigan out of his roster position which is in question if he doesn’t show something this pre-season, with all the receiver talent in camp he is in trouble.
Damian Davis is from a very small unknown college, a transfer from Oklahoma State, he is tall at 6’5” and thin at 190 pounds. I have little on Davis other than one short clip of him catching a TD pass. He looked tall and skinny and the level of competition was very low, they looked like a high school team, he has his work cut out for him. The word is he was supposed to have a good college career until he was dismissed from Oklahoma State in 2009 for unknown reasons, breaking rules which could mean anything. Talley looks like the best of them but Douglas has some talent too and speed. Like Davis I remember a few years back the Giants had a guy 6’6” with some upside that never could make it even close to the roster. With the stacked receiver core I doubt any of these guys get time but you never know, who heard of Victor Cruz?
Overall there is a lot of talent for Eli to throw to. Even the tighends are a pretty good bunch because of the way the Giants use them, they do not have to be great receivers, they have to block first. Bennett and the Bear should be enough until Ballard and Beckum become available. Randle will make the team and be the third receiver of that I am sure, Manningham will be a forgotten player in the Giants collective. After that who knows, it’s open and the players who excel on special teams will probably be seeing the most playing time, do you hear that Ramses? That especially includes Robinson who with his speed and size should be a special teams standout. Players like Barden and Jernigan among others have to step it up or their days are numbered. I wonder can Hixon come back from those knee injuries or is he going to be more of a player coach right now, he is very well versed in the technical side of playing wide receiver and kick returning.