This may be the most talent the New York Giants have ever had at wide receiver and tight end, a pool of talent often ambiguously and collectively labeled as skill players.
But not only is it the best collection of skill players in franchise history, it might just be the best group of targets in the league.
From last year, Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and second-round pick Sterling Shepard return to the fold, the top two receivers on their roster both with the unique ability to break plays open.
Then factor in via free agency six-time Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall, cut by the across-the-hall neighbor New York Jets, but still just a year removed from 1,000 receiving yards. That alone is an impressive group, but the Giants weren’t done.
Late in the first round, they took tight end Evan Engram, one of the best at his position for Ole Miss in the SEC a season ago. The Giants now have four legitimate targets for quarterback Eli Manning, all of whom have the physical skill set to make plays and score touchdowns in a variety of different ways.
When asked on Tuesday at the start of minicamp if this was the best collection of talent he’s had during his Giants career, Manning didn’t really sidestep the question.
“Yes, there is a lot of talented players and you see some young guys and you need some young guys to step up … we’ve added some veteran guys to some of the other guys who have been here a couple of years,” Manning said. “So, at the skill positions, we have some talented guys so it is a matter of making plays on game day, being in the right position, getting them the ball, and letting them make plays.”
Concerning the rookie tight end Engram, Manning sounded impressed with the initial take. He saw a player who can “run and … stretch the field.”
It all creates some real potential for the Giants.
The firepower in the passing game should help the deficiencies on offense. The offensive line is still a major question mark and the running game remains a mystery, lacking depth and a proven bell-cow running back.
But with the talent at the receivers and tight end, opposing defenses won’t be able to stack the box like they did last year and dare the Giants to run the ball. This should open up lanes for the likes of Paul Perkins and Shane Vereen to run through.
“Yes, all of the running backs, again, talented guys,” Manning said. “All of them can catch the football, can run the ball, so try to move them around and see what they can handle, but all of them have great confidence in their pass protection, running the ball, and catching the football.”