Alright, so first off I want to make note that even though I call it an Eli Manning love story, I really mean I love to have his
babies wide receivers on my team. For his career, he’s averaged 1.5 TDs per game while averaging 1.1 TO along with them. I’m not saying he’s bad and surely his 2010 25 INT season won’t soon be repeated but I can never justify that line with where he goes in drafts. But of course, as I said this article isn’t about him it’s about the people he throws the ball to. If you can catch it, he will find you and he will throw it to you deep and at a pretty darn good pace. Last year, Eli had a deep pass percentage – the percentage of pass attempts thrown that were beyond 15 yards – of 28.1, good enough for 3rd most deep pass plays in the league for 2011. Though that percentage was a career high, he has consistently been over 20% since 2007. Since that season, plenty of WRs have come and gone from the Giants and many of them had some great seasons while playing with the deep slinging Eli. For many, Victor Cruz came out of nowhere last year and for that reason we need to start viewing NYG receivers through the eyes of how good the quarterback is and not necessarily the WR themselves. With Hakeem Nicks currently shelved up until the end of training camp, let’s examine the New York Giants depth chart courtesy of Gridiron Experts and see the players who might be filling in for him.
Everywhere we look, it seems that Rueben Randle will be the man of the hour in New York with Nicks sidelined. Though I can’t argue with that sentiment, I still wonder about the slow-footed yet physically intimidating Ramses Barden. At 6′ 6″ and 224, Barden has the body to imitate what Plaxico Burress used to be for Eli, a large target whom he can chuck it high to with wild abandon. Looking back at Plaxico’s numbers in New York, he averaged 4.2 rec, 64.5 yards and 0.57 touchdowns for an average 16 game season line of about 67 rec, 1032 yards and about 9 touchdowns. If Ramses can nail down the #2 role behind Cruz, he might be able to match that per game average if he can develop a good bond with his quarterback. I’m going to briefly mention Domenik Hixon and then run away like I never did because I don’t think he gets a crack at it. However, he needs to be at least mentioned when talking about the Giants for now. Don’t get me wrong, this post is not touting Barden as a sleeper. However, it’s simply stating a fact: whoever the #2 wide receiver in New York is I’m going to be interested and I strongly suggest you follow suit in observing throughout camp, at least until we know just how healthy Nicks is and if you’re drafting Nicks, make sure you know who his replacement is in case he takes a PUP on ya.