New York Giants 2013 NFL Draft Preview: Wide Receiver

by Contributor Sy’56

Current WRs on Giants Roster:

Hakeem Nicks – 25 Years Old – Signed through 2013

Victor Cruz – 26 Years Old – Signed through 2013

Rueben Randle – 21 Years Old – Signed through 2015

Louis Murphy – 25 Years Old – Signed through 2013

Kris Adams – 25 Years Old – Signed through 2014

Jerrel Jernigan – 23 Years Old – Signed through 2014

Brandon Collins – 23 Years Old – Signed through 2014

Kevin Hardy – 22 Years Old – Signed through 2014

Where They Stand:

At just 26 years old, Cruz is the oldest player in this group that offers a lot of versatility to the passing game. Eli Manning is the kind of quarterback that will raise the level of players around him. With that in mind, the Giants still need to ensure they keep plenty of talent around at the wide receiver position for the duration of his career. It appears that signing both Nicks and Cruz to long term contracts in this market is unlikely. While they are in position to thrive this season, the long term stability is a bit of a question mark. Whether or not the Giants view WR as a position of need may revolve around their outlooks on Randle and Jernigan. If the confidence isn’t there in addition to not having Cruz and/or Nicks signed long term, this could be a spot where Reese pulls an early trigger.

Top 10 Grades:

Tavon Austin – 5’9/174 – West Virginia: 86

Cordarelle Patterson – 6’2/216 – Tennessee: 85

Robert Woods – 6’1/201 – USC: 84

Keenan Allen – 6’2/206 – California: 82

Kenny Stills – 6’1/194 – Oklahoma: 81

Justin Hunter – 6’4/196 – Tennessee: 76

DeAndre Hopkins – 6’1/214 – Clemson: 75

Markus Wheaton – 5’11/189 – Oregon State: 75

Ryan Swope – 6’0/205 – Texas A&M – 74

Da’Rick Rogers – 6’3/218 – Tennessee Tech – 73

Early Round Target (1st-2nd):

Robert Woods – USC

Top tier route runner. Explosive into and out of his breaks. Can get separation with ease consistently. Great hands. Catches a lot of passes away from his body with his body in awkward positions. Adapts well. Instinctive and smart when the play is breaking down. Solid after the catch. Elusive and quick acceleration. Lacks the deep speed to get behind a defense. Won’t come down with a lot of balls in jump ball situations. Can be thrown off his game by physical corners.

I don’t expect Patterson or Austin to be available in round one. I would then look to round 2 if I wanted to add a new receiver to this core early. Woods impressed me on tape plenty of times over the past two years. Not the biggest. Not the fastest. But he is a guy that gets open and can be relied upon throughout the entire route tree. He can play inside and out. The combination of route running and sure hands is an attractive thought when thinking about the Giants offense. He can be a better version of Steve Smith underneath with the capability of creating more after the catch and occasionally getting downfield for the deep ball.

Mid Round Target (3rd-5th):

Kenny Stills – Oklahoma

Overlooked speed and quickness. Plays the slot with quick reaction skills and toughness. Will run blind in to a pile of defenders if it means getting a catch. Strong hands. Good presence with the ball that doesn’t go down easy. Will break tackles and gain the extra yards. Limited exposure and success outside. May need extra time to get acclimated to an NFL system. Not much of a downfield threat on tape.

Stills is a favorite of mine in the middle rounds. I have him graded very high in comparison to what I’ve seen out there. He will likely fall somewhere in the 20-25 range on my overall board whereas I see him labeled closer to 90-100 elsewhere. Besides Austin, Stills is the top slot receiver in this class. They are becoming more and more important to passing offenses. Plain and simple, he knows how to get open and will come down with the catch if it is anywhere near him. He is a tough, fiery competitor with overlooked athletic ability. He wasn’t used the way he should have been at Oklahoma and because of that, some team will grab a tremendous value when they draft him.

Late Round Target (6th-UDFA):

Marquess Wilson – 6’3/194 – Washington State

Top tier balance and body control. A true downfield threat because of his ability to time his leaps and reach the ball at his apex. Tough underneath as well. Willing to put his body on the line and make catches in traffic. Strong player that works hard on the field. Competitive. Needs to refine his route running technique. Will play too high. Doesn’t have a lot of experience against press coverage. Some off the field concerns need to be investigated.

Interesting story here with Wilson. He entered 2012 as one of the top Washington State players ever in the eyes of NFL Scouts. He had tremendous success leading up to this year but he left the program early because of disagreements with the coaching staff. I’ve been told by a couple people inside that his character concerns are minimal, if anything. On tape. Wilson looks like a star in the making. While he does not grade out as high, Wilson moves a lot like Larry Fitzgerald did in college when tracking the deep ball. There is something about this kid that makes me think he could be the late round gamble of the draft. He does a lot of things well when it comes to timing and body control/positioning that young receivers never are able to do. He plays fast and aggressive and will enter the league with a chip on his shoulder.

The Plan:

It is no secret that I am not completely confident in the Giants pass catchers to this point when looking at the big picture. Nicks and Cruz are great. Randle has upside. Murphy has big time speed and size with some proven success. But this unit could look completely different next year if Cruz signs elsewhere and/or Nicks’ struggles to stay healthy. This is a passing team within a passing league. Manning has done very well with average to above average receiving cores. I think we still have yet to see his best because of the instability they’ve had at wide receiver. They could use a more legitimate deep threat. If Cruz is a goner, they will need a guy underneath with strong hands and quality route running ability. This is a class loaded with wide receivers that I really like. I think patience should be used until the end of day two or beginning of day three where there will be a highly graded receiver available.