The New York Giants struggled last year and that’s an understatement.
Two years off of a Super Bowl win – the second in five years for the storied franchise – New York limped out of the gates, starting the 2013 campaign 0-6.
The Giants rebounded to finish 7-9 but failed to make the playoffs for the second straight year.
Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning struggled at the quarterback position, throwing for a career-high and league-high 27 interceptions. The offense finished 28th in yards per game and failed to have a receiver reach 1000 yards and a rusher reach 500 yards. Enter first-round draft pick Odell Beckham, Jr., the LSU star wideout responsible for giving this anemic offense a boost. The NFC East has question marks among every team and is wide open. The past four seasons, the division winner has failed to win over 10 games in the regular season.
New York thinks they can win now and are trying to maximize the rest of Manning’s career.
With the 12th overall pick in the NFL Draft, the Giants selected Beckham, Jr. to give Manning some weapons. Beckham, Jr. is very young – entering the regular season as a 21-year-old – and will immediately step into the starting role left with Hakeem Nicks’ departure. The third wide receiver taken in this year’s draft is well-known for his speed and quickness as both a slot receiver, outside receiver and punt returner.
The 2013 season was supposed to be a rebound year for the Giants with a good receiving corps surrounding Manning. Manning dealt with a patchwork offensive line that allowed a lot of sacks, a non-existent running game and an inconsistent passing game.
Victor Cruz was coming off two 1000-plus-yard receiving seasons and failed to hit that mark in 2013. Hakeem Nicks, in a contract year, didn’t record a touchdown and was a shell of his former self that shined earlier in his career with exceptional speed and hands.
Gone are Nicks and in is Beckham, Jr. The Giants will be able to employ a lot of three wideout sets with Cruz, Beckham, Jr. and former fellow LSU star Reuben Randle.
Not only will Beckham, Jr. attract plenty of attention with his versatility and playmaking skills but he should improve Cruz’s production. Nicks and Randle didn’t provide much of a spark to take the attention off of Cruz last season, causing a numbers decline. Beckham, Jr., has the physical tools and history of production to back it up. He was named a Third-Team AP All-American and was the recipient of the Paul Hornung Award winner last season as the nation’s most versatile player. Beckham, Jr.’s skill-set will improve the offense as a whole and be a welcome relief for Manning. He also should have the opportunity to shine on special teams as a punt returner.
Last season, he returned a missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown in a game. Beckham, Jr. should challenge for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award and could be the missing piece for New York as they look to bounce back and win the NFC East.