When New York Giants fans saw where Hunter Sharp’s name was on the first depth chart of training camp, they might have been a bit confused. Competition for the spots behind Sterling Shepard and Odell Beckham Jr. was competitive, with a number of players such as Roger Lewis, Russell Shepard, Amba Etta-Tawo, and Cody Latimer all vying to become the team’s third and fourth receivers.
The New York Giants made a interesting decision:
Well, in the end, the Giants went with Latimer and Hunter Sharp. The decision might have seemed a bit out of place at the time, but Sharp proved himself while returning a punt in the last preseason game against the Jets. The Giants made a fairly normal defensive stop, but turned it into seven points when Sharp ran the ball back for 55 yards and smartly used the lane that his blockers had created for him.
The Jets special teams unit wouldn’t catch up. But what was Sharp’s career like before this point? Let’s look back. He actually started off as a two star recruit coming out of high school, but was one of the main receivers at Utah State during his time there. He had nine touchdowns in 2015, as well as 835 receiving yards in 11 games.
He would have started every game, but didn’t thanks to a two game suspension to begin the season, because of a violation of team rules. Sharp was an undrafted free agent who joined the Eagles in 2016, but failed to make the final roster and was cut from the team in August. He had a stint with the Broncos next, but he only appeared in one game in Denver and was targeted a single time. In that game, however, Sharp returned five punts for a total of 55 yards.
When Sharp joined the Giants near the end of the 2017 season, after being waived by Denver in October, he saw more use as a receiver. He had two catches on two targets against Arizona, returning three punts for 19 yards in the same game. Against Washington, in the closing game of the season, he wasn’t used as a return man at all and played as a receiver. He had 29 yards from 3 receptions and 6 targets, and most notably he pulled in his first career touchdown.
Obviously, Sharp has improved at least somewhat over the offseason, since the Giants consider him one of the top four receivers on the team. Where will he go from here? Well, Sharp may just be the return man that replaces Dwayne Harris, who is now playing with the Oakland Raiders. He also adds depth at the receiver position, which definitely needs more talent than just Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard if the offense is to perform well consistently.
If the good performances continue, the Giants may have a steal of a player on their hands.