As we continue our rankings of the greatest Giants at each position, this week brings us to wide receivers. While the rankings of greatest quarterbacks and running backs were relatively straightforward, the rankings on this list will probably be debated. Away we go:
10. Joe Morrison, 1959-72
The starting position of the Giants’ 1959 third-round pick from Cincinnati fluctuated throughout his 14 NFL seasons. Sometimes he was a halfback, briefly fullback, occasionally flanker, and by the end, just a plain old running back. No matter his position, Morrison found the end zone often. His 47 receiving touchdowns are still the third-most in Giants history.
9. Del Shofner, 1961-67
This Baylor product already had two All-Pro seasons with the Rams under his belt when he came to New York. In his first three seasons with the Giants, Shofner was one of the most unstoppable receivers in pro football.
He reached 1,000 receiving yards and was an All-Pro in each of those three seasons. Since his prime was limited, Shofner is not in the Hall of Fame. He cracks this list easily, though.
8. Plaxico Burress, 2005-08
Like Shofner, this Michigan State alum was already an established receiver with the Steelers before coming to the Giants. Of course, his most memorable moment came in the waning seconds of Super Bowl XLII, when he caught what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown pass from Eli Manning.
Burress would rank higher on this list had he been able to play deeper into his Giants contract.
7. Hakeem Nicks, 2009-15
The Giants’ first-round choice out of North Carolina in 2009 played a huge role in the Super Bowl run of 2011. Nicks caught two touchdown passes in both the Wild Card game against Atlanta and the Divisional round game in Green Bay.
He capped off a terrific postseason with a 10-catch, 109-yard performance in Super Bowl XLVI.
6. Victor Cruz, 2010-16
Nicks and Cruz finished their careers with basically the same statistics, but consider this: Nicks was a first-round pick. Cruz went undrafted out of UMass.
Nicks had two 1,000-yard seasons, while Cruz nearly had three (finishing two yards short of 1,000 in 2013). And, of course, only one of them introduced the salsa dance to the NFL.
5. Homer Jones, 1964-69
Speaking of introducing touchdown celebrations, that brings us to Homer Jones, the man who created the spike. That alone gets the Texas Southern product onto this list. It helps that he also had three 1,000-yard seasons and 35 receiving touchdowns.
The spike came about in 1965 because of some quick thinking. After Jones caught a touchdown pass, he was about to throw the ball into the stands but remembered a rule that had just been ratified that would fine players $500 for such an act. Thus, he chose to slam the ball onto the turf, creating a perfect exclamation point.
MORE ALL-TIME GIANTS POSITION GROUP RANKINGS:
- Ranking the Seven Greatest Quarterbacks in New York Giants Franchise History
- Ranking the Top-10 Greatest Running Backs in New York Giants Franchise History
4. Frank Gifford, 1952-64
You may remember old #16 from last week’s rankings. The Giants’ 1952 first-round choice out of USC was just as talented a receiver as he was a running back.
In fact, Gifford’s career receiving totals (5,434 yards and 43 touchdowns) are well ahead of his 3,609 career rushing yards and 34 rushing TDs.
3. Kyle Rote, 1951-61
In fairness, Rote is probably the least-memorable name on this list. Even if you recognize him, it may be because of his work as an analyst for NBC in the late 60s and early 70s.
Way back in the 50s, however, Kyle Rote made quite a career for himself: he was the first overall pick of the 1951 draft out of SMU, he was a four-time Pro Bowler, and his 48 receiving touchdowns are still second-most in Giants history.
2. Odell Beckham, Jr., 2014-18
He was enigmatic. Far too often, he made things about himself. But man, could this guy catch a football. For all the off-field drama and headaches he might have caused behind the scenes, the Giants’ 2014 first-round choice from LSU has earned his spot as one of the most exciting players in franchise history.
1. Amani Toomer, 1996-2008
I can understand your surprise seeing this former Michigan wideout at the top of this list. However, did you know that Toomer has the most receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in Giants history?
Couple this with the fact that he never created any drama and was always a team player, and you can make a pretty good case for him to be the top-ranked receiver in franchise history.