New York Giants Draft Needs: Never Too Many Receivers

How many receivers is too many? If you're the New York Giants, there's no such thing as having too many receivers.
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If we can all agree that the NFL is a passing league, then we can probably agree as well that a team can never have too many receivers.

And if you're still not convinced that a team can't have enough receivers, look no further than the last two seasons for the Giants where their "top three" receivers of the 2019-20 seasons--Golden Tate, Sterling Shepard, and Darius Slayton--missed a combined 21 games.

As a result, other than for five quarters of play, Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has yet to have his entire supporting cast around him.

If that's not enough to convince anyone of an unstated concern for injuries at the position, then ask yourself why the Giants, in receiver Kenny Golladay's contract, have a per-game roster bonus included in just the first year of the deal?

One of the nice things that head coach Joe Judge has done since coming in is that he doesn't believe in putting all his eggs in one basket when it comes to the offense.

In other words, unlike the old days when everyone and their uncles knew that the Giants would feature Odell Beckham Jr in the game plan, now the "featured" player on offense changes according to the opponent. The idea, of course, is to make it far less predictable for an opponent to figure out who to defend, which is a more intelligent approach to game-plan designing.

So yes, receiver is still very much in play for the Giants, who have six picks. They need to ensure they have added as many pieces around Jones to allow him to finally take that next significant step forward before the team has to decide on whether to extend him or move on.

Let's look at some potential options in different rounds of the draft.

Day 1 Prospect: Jaylen Waddle, 5'10", 182 pounds, Alabama

Waddle and his teammate Devonta Smith, also a receiver, are probably the most popular receivers frequently mocked to the Giants in the first round of the draft. And with good reason. Both are outstanding and productive play-makers, which is exactly what the Giants offense can use.

But Waddle offers a little bit more versatility in that he can be deployed both as a slot receiver (his primary position in college) and on the outside. Waddle, hampered last year by an ankle injury, recently got good news regarding his NFL medical exam, which alleviates a major concern teams might have had before getting a look at his ankle.

Waddle drew high praise from the NFL Draft Bible, who compared him to former Steelers wideout Santonio Holmes.

Arguably the fastest player in college football, ‘The Cheetah’ is a lightning-quick game-breaker, possessing blow torch speed and quickness. Waddle is a lethal weapon in the slot with his ability to create separation, he has a playing style that is very similar to Santonio Holmes (Ohio State/Pittsburgh Steelers), as that type of athlete playing receiver with his fluid moves and creativeness after the catch. While he lacks size, it doesn’t prevent Waddle from going up in traffic and competing for contested balls. He has plenty of toughness to go over the middle and has proven durable, enduring some big hits, plus the ability to break tackles.

If drafted, Waddle would likely see most of his snaps in the slot, where the Giants have Sterling Shepard (who, by the way, missed 11 games over the last two years). Shepard is by no means ready to be cast aside just yet, but it certainly can't hurt to have a guy who can maybe take on some of that workload to reduce the pounding he's taken.

Day 2 Prospect: Kadarius Toney, 5'11, 190 pounds, Florida

Toney gained a reputation as a gadget type of player who can do just about everything and then some on offense and special teams. Toney played the majority of his college snaps in the slot but is well-versed in running the entire route tree. However, it's his deployment through the years that raises some questions, according to NFL Draft Bible, who notes:

From a physical perspective, Toney is equally as flexible as he is explosive with straight-line speed. He is also a very physical runner, boasting fantastic contact balance for a player his size. As a pure wide receiver, Toney is still developing his feel for the position. His work as a gadget player in so many roles has prevented him from becoming the caliber of wide receiver that his athletic profile dictates. Toney’s size is a bit of a detriment to the position. That may limit his impact as a slot receiver where that size is not as big of a negative.

Again, the question here is whether the Giants want to bring a slot receiver on board as an eventual replacement for Shepard, who, by the way, had $4.025 million of his $6.975 million base salary this year become guaranteed last month.

(This is the last of Shepard's guaranteed money, and this is probably a big reason why the team didn't touch Shepard's contract when trying to scrape together additional salary cap space during free agency.)

It certainly can't hurt to think about the future, though if that's the case and the draft pick is either a Day 1 or Day 2 pick, presumably there better be plans for that guy to start contributing regularly rather than making the occasional cameo here and there. 

Day 3 Prospect: Ihmir Smith-Marsette, 5'11, 183 pounds, Iowa

Within this deep class of receivers is a young man named Ihmir Smith-Marsette, who played his college ball at Iowa. Smith-Marsette hasn't been getting a lot of attention among draft enthusiasts, but his stock has been quietly rising within the NFL circles.

Primarily a slot receiver, Smith-Marsette's deep speed can hold a candle to any of the top-ranked receivers in this class. Showing improvement in each season, Smith-Marsette is also a surprisingly polished route runner who, with some additional bulk, could further improve his ability in contested catch situations, one of the weak points of his game at the moment.

Here's what NFL Draft Bible had to say about this intriguing Day 3 prospect:

Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette possesses a tantalizing skill set that will be highly coveted at the next level. With plus deep speed and impressive ball tracking ability, Smith-Marsette puts a ton of stress on defenses working in the vertical third of the field. He is not, however, a one-trick pony. His ability as a deep threat will be his main selling point, but Smith-Marsette has shown a ton of potential as a route runner. He is very fluid in and out of his breaks, showing a great understanding for how to attack leverage.

Smith-Marsette, who also has experience as a kickoff return specialist, might make an excellent value pick to compete for the fourth receiver spot on this Giants team with much room to grow.

Final Thoughts

If the Giants plan to draft a receiver, it will be telling to see where the pick is made. Golladay is the unquestioned No. 1 receiver on this team, and Shepard is likely to return to the slot, where he made his NFL living and earned his current contract.

The question mark is Slayton. He flashed as a rookie, but injuries combined with a sluggish offensive attack knocked his strong rookie production level back down to size. Do the coaches view him as a legitimate No. 2 receiver to where the need for a Day 1 or Day 2 draft pick at the position isn't as high or is the jury still out on where Slayton fits in best into the passing game?


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