Giants Position Preview: Wide Receivers

Posted Jun 7, 2016 takes a closer look at the depth at wide receiver: 

Eli Manning is coming off two of his best statistical seasons, throwing for 8,842 yards and 65 touchdowns in that span.

Someone had to be on the other end.

For the most part, it was wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who recorded the most yards receiving through a player’s first two seasons in NFL history. But with Dwayne Harris proving he’s more than a return specialist, Victor Cruz trying to return by training camp, and rookie Sterling Shepard looking to make an impact as a second-round draft choice, it could prove to be the deepest unit on the team in 2016.


Continuing our position preview series on, today we look at the wide receivers. First, here’s a recap of the roster movement at the position, and keep in mind that the Giants kept six wide receivers when the initial 53-man roster was set last September.

Arrivals: Sterling Shepard, Kadron Boone, Anthony Dablé, Donte Foster, Roger Lewis, K.J. Maye, Darius Powe

Departures: Rueben Randle

Returning: Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, Dwayne Harris, Myles White, Geremy Davis, Tavarres King, Ben Edwards (reserve/injured)

When coach Ben McAdoo came in first as the offensive coordinator in 2014, the Giants jumped from 19th in passing to seventh, an increase of 43 yards per game. In 2015, they remained seventh but improved from 267 yards per game to 272.

In that time, Beckham exploded onto the scene as the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2014 and proved he wasn’t a one-hit wonder, becoming one of the most dynamic players in the league. With 96 receptions for 1,450 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, Beckham now has 187 catches for 2,755 yards and 25 touchdowns in 27 career games while making the Pro Bowl both years.


Even though McAdoo moved to the head chair, this will be the third season of the same offense with Mike Sullivan, formerly the quarterbacks coach, now serving as the coordinator. That comfort level will only help Beckham in a system that moves him around in different spots to find mismatches.

“I think now he can handle all of that,” Manning said. “We put him in different routes and make sure he’s doing them correctly. I think there’s an understanding of the offense, of how things are supposed to go and the timing of things. I think that third year he should start really picking up on that.”

If that’s the case, it’ll be another record-setting year for Beckham and the entire offense.

Meanwhile, the Giants moved on from Rueben Randle, who signed with the rival Eagles as a free agent. In four seasons, the former second-round draft choice notched 188 receptions for 2,644 yards and 20 touchdowns. Cruz is itching to fill that void after not being able to play in a game since October of 2014 due to injuries. Last week, McAdoo said Cruz is progressing but is in a “holding pattern” until they see what he can do when training camp rolls around on July 28.

Harris, in addition to two return touchdowns, recorded career highs in catches (36), receiving yards (396) and touchdown receptions (four) in his first season with the Giants. Myles White, who scored his first career touchdown in 2015, and Geremy Davis, last year’s sixth-round choice, also return for another season and have flashed at times during organized team activities.

The same goes for some of the rookie receivers.

Shepard, who caught 233 passes for 3,482 yards and 26 touchdowns at Oklahoma and was a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award in 2015, is hearing his number called more and more as he continues to learn the playbook. This week, McAdoo said that every player makes mistakes, but Shepard “doesn’t seem like the guy that is going to repeat that mistake.”

From the undrafted ranks, rookies like Roger Lewis have stood out from time to time, making the wide receiver competition that much tougher heading into the summer. McAdoo was asked what he looks for in his young receivers as they jockey for more reps.

“Probably most importantly is if they can digest the information, not repeating mistakes,” he answered. “That is an important part of the learning process for us. They have to be able to play fast, drop their weight, push out of breaks so they can create separation. If you can’t drop your weight and push out of breaks, it is tough to separate in this league. It doesn’t matter how fast you are, they need to be able to detail the way they catch the ball. They need to be able to pluck it away from their eyes and their body and do it on the front end of the ball.”