Since things are slow and there’s not much to talk about concerning the NFL. So I thought I would review the Giants roster position by position. Some small movements have been made like the loss of Ballard. I think he won’t be able to play for at least a season or more and if he does play he’ll be back as a Giants. When the Pats realize they are wasting a roster spot they will cut him. This only reinforces how many people feel about Bill Belichick, that he’s vindictive and petty. Let’s hope that we have no more surprises or as fans, moral let downs like injuries to key players.
I’d like to start with an area I think will be most important this season, the receiver corps. Nicks will be back and he’ll have a great year as long as they let him heal. Too many times players rush to get back and they reinjure themselves. So Hakeem, be cool man, chill and let it heal, you’re not losing your job or getting traded. I studied as much film as I could get and do see some great possibilities. The loss of Manningham was no big deal, he was not ever going to reach his full potential. Watching Randle I will say right now not ever playing one down in the NFL he’s already a better receiver. For one he will know the playbook and run the correct routs in a more accomplished manner, right there is a huge improvement.
We know what Nicks and Cruz can do, as a duo they can dominate a secondary. Both receivers are sure handed, run great routs and get YAC. In the NFL now a team needs more than two receivers to counter a defense for a complete game, that’s the way the NFL has evolved. Since the Giants are not a tightendcentric offense, and they are no longer a power running team, the receiver position is even more important. What do we have after Nicks and Cruz, a lot of question marks that will be answered early in preseason. With Nicks out until the beginning of the regular season everybody will get their chance.
Randle is such a natural receiver, he looks like he was born to catch footballs. The only question is his ability to get separation, once he does there is no question that he is NFL ready. From what I understand he mostly knows the playbook already and is very coachable. I think a lot of teams will be wondering why their GM did not draft this player, they had enough chances, just because he does not have blazing speed? He has something called functional football speed. My only concern is the basket catches, it won’t work in the NFL nearly as much, I have seen him catch the ball in the air just as well so I don’t think that will be a problem. He has amazing hips, his body can do things most players cannot, he has to use that to his advantage, if he does he might end up being one of the top receivers in the NFL for many years. The idea of having Nicks, Cruz and Randle lined up will have defenses on their heels all game, this will open up so many other things on offense. I just hope Gilbride takes advantage of it, I am not a fan of his game plans and play calling.
After Randle we have a fan favorite in Domenik Hixon, we all know what he can do or did. When Plax went down Hixon took his place and played well, realistically though he is clearly not a starting receiver. Part of the problem was because the coaching staff expected him to take Plax’s place, running the same routs as he did. He could not be Plax, it was kind of stupid to expect him to be, he also dropped a few very important balls during games or just did not come up with the big plays he DID as a returnman. Hixon was a great returnman but an average receiver. If Hixon returns to form having him as your number 4 is a big plus, he has experience and knows the offense, he’s a qualified 4th receiver. Let’s hope he hasn’t lost his speed and agility. Honestly I can’t see him regaining it with two major knee surgeries. I know everybody is pulling for him to make the team and return to form, I am.
As for Ramses Barden His statement “I am the man” seems odd and when I saw it I just went blank. What does that statement mean? Does it mean Ramses has delusions of grandeur? Or does he really think he has arrived, finally after a few years of trying to figure it out while sitting on the bench. I liked him coming out of college, he had all you need to become a successful receiver in the NFL but that statement was just bizarre considering his body of work or lack thereof. I had to get a grasp of his play the few times he did and honestly I came away impressed. I went to YouTube, there is a very good video highlight of his catches and misses. Almost all his misses were just lack of timing between him and Eli, there is a reason for that which I will get to. Ramses made some very difficult catches, even taking the ball away from defenders. You can see the big time potential there. So riddle me this Coughlin, why doesn’t this guy get some playing time? Is it because of the lack of special teams play or am I missing something here? I think I solved the riddle.
Barden seemed to have taken some cues from Hixon on his stance which is good, Hixon is a technically sound player. Ramses tries a move I have seen Hixon and many receivers use to get off the LOS, he lacks the quickness to make it work. It takes him too long to get into his rout and does not get seperation. From watching film I have determined this to be the problem he has with Eli Manning. Getting into his rout late destroys the timing, Eli was hesitating before the throw waiting for Barden to hit his spot. That is the problem and it has to be corrected. Are the coaches telling him to dump that move and find something to get into his rout faster and he is not listening or is it the other way around and Barden is listening to ineffective coaching? I did notice DBs crowd Barden, he would use his double pump move and it doesn’t work, he did NOT get separation, he does not get separation and that is the problem. He needs to go to a single pump or false step and a swim motion with his arm to get into his rout quicker.
Contact is allowed within the first 5 yards and he needs to exploit this, at 6’6” he has the advantage yet he does not use it at all. Some taller/bigger WRs just don’t have that explosive start so they must use other techniques. Burress did not have a problem getting off the LOS. Plax had great technique and DBs could not crowd him even in press coverage, if they did he would blow by them with his long strides. Barden should mimic Plax more, they look so much alike on the field it’s uncanny (watch film side by side), yet he seems to be copying smaller quicker receiver’s technique and it doesn’t work well for him.
So far from what I have read he has had a very good off season, maybe he can put it all together and at least become a good possession and red zone receiver. He has been a frustrating disappointment to all. To make a statement like that is strange. If he has changed some things and learned to get separation the rest is not an issue and I can see him being one of the men, not the man.
When Reese drafted Jernigan I was like I guess this was the BPA(I felt then and now that it wasn’t), that was a poor draft for talent anyway. He hasn’t shown much of anything, I don’t think he has what it takes to make it in the NFL. When a player is that small he must play BIG, he has to be aggressive to make up for his lack of size, I don’t see this from Jernigan so far. He has speed, we all know that is not enough to equate to having a successful NFL career. I don’t have any expectations for him at all and feel this was a wasted pick. There is no film of him making any NFL receptions because he hasn’t made any so I have no way to judge his effectiveness as a receiver. This kid made some great plays in college as a receiver, returnman and even running back, he also ran the wildcat, you can see the potential but it has not transferred over to the NFL as of yet, will it ever? There were some good players selected after him like Mason Foster the starting MIKE of the Bucs and Roy Helu a RB for the Skins. There were a lot of other players who I thought would be better picks. I am hoping this kid proves me wrong and has an outstanding pre-season opening up a possible future for him as a Giants player.
Let’s look at some other players who are in camp and vying to unseat Barden and Jernigan. My favorite choice to get a spot on the team is Julian Talley, he hails from the same school as Cruz, UMASS. Talley is just as NFL ready as Cruz was and Randle is, his only deficiency is that he has a slow 40 time for a receiver. He ran a 4.57/40 and that is probably the only thing that kept him from getting drafted. If he were 6’3” or more and ran that time it would be different, he’s not, he’s 6 feet tall and 190 pounds. When you watch him you’ll see that he plays with an attitude, like a defensive back kind of swagger. I was very impressed with him and if given a chance he will make this team maybe like David Tyree did. Talley is a much better receiver than Tyree was, like him though he will have to make the team the same way, on specials. His slowish time could cause issues getting off the LOS, in the NFL for a receiver it starts with getting separation as Ramses Barden has found out, the other aspects to his play seem to be on a technically high level.
There are some other interesting receivers on the pre-season roster. Some are rookies and some have a year or more in the league. Brandon Collins, is a shifty, crafty receiver and returnman the Giants recently signed. He was kicked off the Texas Longhorns because plain and simple he’s a thug. So many inner city boys turn into respectable men and that’s one thing the Giants count on, by giving these young guys a chance to play in the NFL. As a senior he played at Southwest Louisiana and kept out of trouble, playing WR and returning punts. He’s technically sound although a little rough around the edges, he runs a 4.39-4.4/40 and can return punts. Collins has descent size at 5’11” and 180 pounds. He opened a lot of eyes with his athletic prowess during his pro day including an amazing 45 inch vertical, I’m sure his past was the reason nobody signed him. He certainly has an exceptional set of tools few players are gifted with. This kid has potential, he’s not afraid to go down the middle and jump for the ball and he can jump!!! Also on many of his catches he was just plain wide open, he was beating the entire secondary, shredding it. Looking at film of the team he might have been underutilized. So far he has made the coaches take notice.
Last but not least are Isaiah Stanback a 4 year veteran, Dan DePalma a rookie last year and David Douglas. Stanback has an interesting career, he was a quarterback in college and drafted by the Cowboys as a WR/KR in the 4th round, he showed promise although that always ended in injury. If he can keep healthy Stanback will be in the mix. I expect him to be on the practice squad with DePalma who is the Giants secret weapon. DePalma plays an important role, he mimics other receivers for the defense and he’s very good at it. Football fans don’t realize how important certain players they never see on the field can be to a team. DePalma mimicked Wes Welker for the defense, Cory Webster mentioned he was the toughest WR to cover in practice. Although he didn’t play he certainly was a part of the Super Bowl win against the Pats doing Welker and Edelman impersonations at practice. The Giants expect DePalma to develop into a quality NFL receiver.
At the end of the line is David Douglas a UDFA from Arizona, here is what Sports Illustrated writer Don Banks had to say about Douglas: (The Wildcats’ No. 2 receiver behind the more highly regarded Juron Criner, Douglas didn’t have gaudy stats as a senior (65 catches for 666 yards and four touchdowns), but he flashed real potential this spring, running in the 4.4s with a 39-inch vertical leap. He has excellent short-burst quickness and the ability to find the gaps in a defense, and at 6-1, 207 pounds he has the necessary size to project to the NFL. Douglas will be either a late-round pick or a priority collegiate free agent, and scouts have grown more impressed with his soft hands, tight route running and football instincts as the spring has worn on. The Lions and Bills are two of the teams thought to be interested in his market.) Yeah but the Giants got him Don, let’s hope he eventually gets a chance and does not have to go through the NFL from team to team to finally find one that can utilize him. I usually don’t quote other writers but Banks summed it up, this kid can play.
That’s a total of 11 receivers for the Giants(I had to use one of my toes), how many will be carried, how many will be inactive and how many on the practice squad? If Douglas performs well he will be snatched up if he’s put on the practice squad, I think teams are watching him. I don’t think it will be 11 total so some players will be going, I can see maximum 9 receivers being carried overall even considering the Nicks injury. Barden and Jernigan are safe because they were drafted and still on their rookie contracts, although I feel Barden just does not have the heart to play professional football and is a prima donna, Jernigan does not have the physical ability. To a fault the Giants give players time, they kept Moss on much longer than logic dictated. It would be a shame to give up on a player because of numbers and/or politics only to have them succeed somewhere else. How many Giants were castoffs from other teams or players nobody wanted? They found a home and a successful career with the Giants. I hope that is not the case, if Barden does not do something he has to be cut lose at the end of the season.
Potential should be given just so much time and I think time has run out for Ramses like it did for Moss. The question is if he does not perform and has those nagging injuries again do the Giants release him sooner than later? With all the receivers and return men on the roster now does Jernigan just end up a write off and released too. Time will tell and it will be interesting to watch the position so important to the Giants offense now. The Giants must put certain things aside and pick the best players without concern for their pedigree and draft status. I wonder if the NFL will be watching the Giants to see if they try to stash any receivers by putting them on IR like they did with Cruz. I think they got away with that one and Goodell won’t let it happen again.