8. Mario ManninghamJerry Reese has gotten a lot of flack recently, but he deserves credit for plucking Mario Manningham with the 32nd pick in the third round. Super Mario was a first or second round talent that slipped due to character concerns. Flash forward three years, and I haven’t read a single article calling out Manningham’s character or work ethic. What I have seen is marked improvement and a player working hard to transform himself into one of the better young receivers in the game.
After a lost rookie season, Manningham showed he still had the talent that made him a star at Michigan, posting 57 receptions, 822 yards and 5 touchdowns over 14 games. It was expected that his production would slip in his second season as Hakeem Nicks overtook his playing time, but improved play and injuries at wide receiver led to an increased workload for Manningham. Although he had some trouble breaking double teams, he proved that he has the talent to be a starting wide receiver. He would be a starter on more than half of the NFL’s teams, and the top dog on a handful.
Manningham finished the 2010 season with 60 receptions, 944 yards and 9 touchdowns. He stepped up big after a season-ending injury to Steve Smith, topping 100 yards in each of the team’s last three games. The Giants are hopeful that their decimated receiving corps will be back to full strength in 2011, but it’s nice to know that Manningham is already at a level where he can start and help the team. At age 24, he is only going to improve.