In trying to replace veterans Amani Toomer and Plaxico Burress, New York made the wide receiver position a top priority this offseason. At April's draft, the Giants selected receivers with three of their first five picks -- Hakeem Nicks, Ramses Barden and tight end Travis Beckum. The team now hopes at least one of those three weapons will make a splash in 2009, and that all of them will have a future with the club.
Dissecting the depth chart: The team likes what it has already in Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith, but it's doubtful that either player is the long-term answer at the No. 1 receiver spot. The pair combined to catch 100 balls and more than 1,000 yards last season. For 2009, New York will probably live with Hixon and Smith in the starting lineup, along with Kevin Boss at tight end. Hicks is the most likely rookie to step forward in year one, but Beckum's versatility as a tight end/wideout could make him an intriguing play, as well. Barden's size (similar to Burress) makes him an attractive goal line option.
Just the stats: Nicks was responsible for almost half of North Carolina's total yards in the passing game, and his 12 touchdown catches were more than half of the team's total of 21. In the bowl loss to West Virginia, Nicks was unstoppable, with 217 yards receiving and three scores. Barden caught at least one score in each of Cal Poly's 11 games last year. His best game came against Southern Utah when the 6-foot-6 target caught 12 passes for 217 yards. Beckum missed much of 2008 due to an injury. In the two seasons prior he caught a total of 136 passes and topped the 900-yard mark in each season. He was widely considered one of the nation's top receiving tight ends during his time at the University of Wisconsin.
Interesting facts that won't help you: According to his Cal Poly bio page, Barden is the Central Coast Madden champ as well as Cal Poly bowling tournament champ.
What each player is worth: The number of quality rookie receivers in this year's draft makes it unlikely any of the Giants' rookie weapons will be worth anything more than a late round draft pick. However, each has tremendous upside for different reasons. Nicks may be the most talented receiver the team has on its roster, and Beckum and Barden both offer a size the team is in desperate need of.
Fantasy owners looking to roll the dice on a high-risk prospect with good upside may consider Nicks as a No. 5 wide receiver option late, and both Beckum and Barden warrant close attention during training camp. The Giants tied for eighth in passing scores in 2008, so one of these rookie receivers is bound to surprise for fantasy owners in '09.