Coming Off A Great Draft, There Is Only One Big Question Left For The New York Giants: How Reliable Will Their Wide Receiver Unit Be This Season?

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

Prior to the start of the NFL Draft, the New York Giants had a lot of big holes to fill throughout their lineup. The offensive line lacked strong tackles, the linebacker corps needed a boost both inside and out, and the secondary didn’t have enough depth. With these core problems glaring at large, smaller concerns, such as the stability of their defensive line to the reliability of their receivers, somewhat fell by the wayside despite remaining to be key issues that needed to be addressed. However, the draft nearly changed everything. With the 4th overall pick, the Giants took full advantage and seized upon their golden opportunity, revamping their lineup with a lot of bright, young talent that will serve as the new mold and structure of this post-Eli Manning franchise.

But as the draft came to a close, it was hard not to notice that the Giants didn’t bother going after one wide receiver or tight end out of the 10 picks they had (ESPN). With new head coach Joe Judge possessing the expertise about the importance of wide receivers from his previous position with the New England Patriots, it certainly was a little head-scratching to not see a single receiver selected by the Giants. Although they have a solid foundation of wideouts with Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard, and sophomore standout Darius Slayton, the Giants could use another big-bodied, deep-threat, and essentially, more depth and security in the position. Injuries have not been friendly to all three of these top receivers, particularly as of late. And as a result, their dependability becomes less of a guarantee for young quarterback Daniel Jones, posing a volatile and rather unstable supporting cast to work with.

Just to give you an idea, Tate hasn’t been able to log in a full 16-game season since 2017, and Shepard has become a seesaw ride of inconsistency since he joined the league (ESPN). Sidelined for five games in 2017 with an ankle sprain and migraine pains, Shepard missed another six games yet again in 2019 after sustaining two concussions (ESPN). Moreover, tight end Evan Engram, who was supposed to be a big part of the Giants receiving attack, has played fewer games every single season since his rookie year (ESPN). Even Slayton, who had an impressive rookie campaign, missed the first two games of the season with a hamstring injury. This leaves the Giants with Cory Coleman and Cody Core, two wide receivers that just don’t have much to show for and have struggled to make any significant impact during their NFL careers (ESPN). Essentially, a lot of uncertainty continues to hover above this Giants wide receiver corps and whether they can be a strong, reliable force this year. And after failing to prioritize this need during the draft, it’s become a greater cause for concern.

That being said, the heart of this dilemma finally dawned on Judge, who decided to sign four undrafted, rookie wide receivers following the conclusion of the draft (ESPN). The tandem that stands out from this pool of rookies is Binjimen Victor and Austin Mack, two wide receivers who played together at Ohio State (ESPN). Although they were not the top two wideouts throughout their four years in college, Victor and Mack produced good numbers and improved every single year (ESPN). Weighing in at 200 pounds and standing at 6’4″, Victor is the strong, lanky-quick, Andre Johnson-type deep-threat the Giants have been looking for, possessing great hands and an uncanny ability to break tackles at ease (ESPN). Mack on the other hand, brings a slightly different skillset. At only 6’1″, Mack embodies remarkable athleticism and strength yet brings a shiftiness that allows him to find open space and slip through tackles (ESPN).

Along with Mack and Victor, the Giants chose to bolster the slot by signing the 5’11” speedster from LSU, Derrick Dillon (ESPN). Running a 4.28 40-yard dash time, Dillon brings lightning speed, quickness and a grit that resembles that of Julian Edelman. To top it all off, the Giants also added the towering 6’7″ receiver/tight end in Rysen John from Simon Fraser, who’s essentially, a basketball forward playing football (ESPN). Possessing the power and dominance to push through tacklers and leap over defenders for jump balls, John is also very fast for his size and has big hands that allow him to rein in almost every pass thrown his way. This selection of talent is just what the Giants needed; a balanced, diverse skillset of receivers that will provide Daniel Jones with a lot of versatility to work with.

At the end of it all, it’s important to acknowledge that the Giants wide receiver corps is certainly not ideal and could use at least one Pro Bowl-caliber wideout to join their ranks. Furthermore, after splurging most of their cap space this year over free agency, the Giants may want to save what’s left for a stacked, wide receiver free agent selection come 2021. But for the time being, the Giants have put together a robust, reliable group of wide receivers that have plenty of upside, talent, and athleticism at their disposal.

Although the injuries and inexperience of their rookies remain to be big question marks moving into this season, head coach Joe Judge is quite acquainted with these kinds of challenges and understands what’s required to overcome them. During his only season coaching the wide receivers for the Patriots in 2019, Judge was able to provide quarterback Tom Brady with a productive unit, despite having to deal with injuries and a sporadic turnover rate. Now in New York, Judge will get the chance to put his insight to good use and lead the charge in redirecting this wide receiver corps into something special. One cannot deny that chemistry will certainly take some time to develop, something that may take the entire season to establish. But the New York Giants receiving unit is not as frail as it looks and will be a dependable force for quarterback Daniel Jones this season.

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