No, I am not talking about fan-favorite Victor Cruz. I am referring to Ramses Barden, who at 6’6 could become a major offensive weapon for the Giants, if he can stay on the field.
It was no secret why the Giants selected Barden out of Cal Poly in the 3rd round of the 2009 draft. Despite lacking the pedigree of a football powerhouse, Barden gave New York a chance to recreate the magic Eli Manning had worked with a slightly larger Plaxico Burress. With his rookie year being a wash, it appeared that Barden had finally arrived early this November when he filled the void left by Smith against Dallas.
Barden’s career had thus far been marked by drops and injuries. However, a 3 reception, 34 yard game seemed to be signaling that the tide had turned…until a leg injury concluded his season before game’s end. The stats aren’t jaw dropping but for the first time, Barden didn’t look lost on the field. As the rash of injuries continued at the receiver position, he would have been given an opportunity to show the Giants exactly what they can expect from him.
Does he have starter potential? Can he become a top 3 option and thus give the Giants some breathing room when it comes time to deal with a dinged up FA Steve Smith? Manning’s play clearly suffers without the presence of either a big bailout or a crisp route runner. Barden would have had a legitimate shot at starting next season near the depth chart’s peak if he continued to improve over the course of 2010. Now we will have to wait until training camp (yes there will be a training camp) to see if Barden’s regressed or moved forward.
Similarly, Adam Koets’s early exit in Seattle puts the Giants in a tough spot. Koets was progressing nicely from failed late round draft pick to solid option at center. The Giants, who are in need of a future option at center with Shaun O’hara’s play and (football) health declining, would love to already have the next starter on the roster. It is very likely that they already do. O’hara himself admitted this off-season that the Giants were high on Koets and saw big things for him in the future if he continued to improve. Still, it would have been a great advantage come draft time to have seen nearly a full season of Koets taking reps.