Scott Thompson, SNY.tv | Twitter |
There are more pressing positions to address in the Draft this year, but with the pass game being so important in today's NFL, there can never be too many threats on the outside.
The Giants seem to be set at the wide receiver position with Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Brandon Marshall stacked on the outside. It also helps that TE Evan Engram has rare speed and agility at his position, and proved it last season as one of Eli Manning's favorite targets.
However, the 2017 season wasn't generous to this group. Beckham and Marshall underwent season-ending surgeries after both Pro Bowlers sustained injuries in the same week. Shepard was on and off the field as well, playing in 11 games this season.
The replacements - Roger Lewis Jr., Tavarres King, and Travis Rudolph as the most common of the bunch - played admirably, but failed to make a real impact throughout the season. It was ultimately a disastrous start and finish for this group, and a season they would much rather put behind them.
Though Beckham and Marshall appear to be progressing well in their respective rehabs, what happens (fingers crossed it doesn't) if there is another devastating injury to one of the Giants' star receivers? Is having Lewis and King as backups good enough after their production last season?
Marshall is also intriguing this offseason as the Giants can buyout his two-year, $11 million contract, and only take on $1 million in dead cap while saving about $5 million in the move. The 33-year-old could be deemed as too unreliable with his age and injury history, and when he was on the field last season, he didn't seem to be in sync with Manning. Gettleman could make the move to let him go despite his small sample size with the team.
It isn't a necessary need, but the Giants could look to the Draft to bring in another promising receiver that would make HC Pat Shurmur comfortable bringing in if need be. Here are a few prospects to look for come April:
WR Equanimeous St. Brown -- Notre Dame
I know what you're thinking: This guy is pretty good, and could be off the draft board in the Day One. Well, that is why this is a guy the Giants could target if they, indeed, made the move to let Marshall go.
St. Brown has seen a wide margin in his scouting report as some believe he is first-round material, while others can see him fall as late as the third round. The Giants wouldn't waste their first-round pick on a wide receiver with their other needs, but the second round might not be a stretch.
The 6-foot-4, 205 pound prospects is said to have all the tools necessary to excel with his physical stature in the NFL. His route-running is clean, his hands are reliable, and his speed and aggression on the ball matches many veteran wideouts in the game today. Some scouts even have his potential rivaling any wide receiver prospect taken in last year's draft.
St. Brown will be one of the highlighted players when the wide receivers take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium for the NFL Combine, and the Giants could be among them hoping they could steal a quality wideout to match with their already stellar crew.
What a catch.- Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) September 18, 2016
DeShone Kizer finds Equanimeous St. Brown in the end zone. pic.twitter.com/oVTJGjLMnd
WR Auden Tate -- Florida State
Tate could be a more realistic steal for the Giants if they're looking for a receiver in the earlier rounds. At 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, Tate is the prototypical deep-ball and red-zone threat. And if the Giants want to get Marshall out of the building, Tate's physical traits match his entirely.
The 21-year-old totaled only 40 receptions for 548 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2017 as he had to work with FSU's backup quarterback, and this is why the Giants could steal him in the third round if he falls that far. Some experts believe he had more to prove in college when the Seminoles get a more consistent quarterback under center. However, Tate decided to kickstart his career, and the Giants could capitalize on that if teams overlook his abilities that would perfectly complement Beckham and Shepard.
WR D.J. Chark -- LSU
At the moment, St. Brown and Tate are shots in the dark for the Giants. The middle rounds are more realistic at this point, and that is where LSU's D.J. Chark is likely to end up.
Despite where he is projected to land in the Draft, Chark's 2017 season is much like Tate's in that bad quarterback play hindered his production. He also had just 40 receptions, but he turned them into 874 yards and three touchdowns. The 6-foot-2, 196 pound receiver was invited to the Senior Bowl, and brought up his stock by showing quickness in routes, speed, and deep-ball threat abilities.
The Giants are already an LSU-heavy team in their coaching staff, and obviously in their best receiver. Chark is projected between the third and fifth rounds, so don't be surprised to see the Giants bring another Tiger on the squad with one of those picks.
WR Marcel Ateman -- Oklahoma State
If you ask, most scouts will say WR James Washington of Oklahoma State is the guy to look at in the Draft. But some like the potential they see from the 6-foot-4, 216 pound Ateman.
With Mason Rudolph throwing the pigskin to the two receivers, Ateman totaled 1,156 yards on 59 catches with eight touchdowns. That is almost 20 yards averaged per catch, and many of them came on the deep ball as Ateman's height and speed create a mismatch for corners.
He didn't have as good a Senior Bowl as many hoped he would, but that could work in the favor of the Giants if they look for a receiver in the middle rounds. Like the other prospects mentioned, Ateman complements Beckham and Shepard with his height, and red-zone abilities.
WR Jordan Lasley -- UCLA
If the Giants decided to go with UCLA QB Josh Rosen with their No. 2 overall selection as most experts are predicting, why not draft his favorite target?
Lasley was Rosen's favorite with the Bruins, as the 6-foot-3, 210 pound wideout secured 69 receptions for 1,264 yards and nine touchdowns in 2017. He showed major improvement in just one year, and Lasley is hoping NFL teams recognize his jump in production in the draft.
That jump won't be to the second or even third round, though, and that might favor the Giants if they have him on the draft board. Lasley is another tall receiver that has the speed to blow by corners if need be. He could certainly be a valuable asset, and if Rosen is the quarterback of the future for Big Blue, he would be confident in throwing to Lasley.