Enter Rueben Randle.
The Cruz and Nicks saga could not have come at a better time for Randle. Randle is coming off a decent rookie season where he finished with 19 receptions for a total of 298 yards and three touchdowns, two of them during the last game of the season against the Philadelphia Eagles. He was unable to solidify himself as Mario Manningham’s replacement, but his game against the Eagles shows his potential to be a top three receiver for the Giants.
And don’t forget, he plays on the same team as Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz, who are the go-to targets for Eli Manning and explosive receivers that would be a number one option anywhere.
But now, Randle has a golden opportunity in front of him. With Nicks entering the final year of his contract and Cruz’s inability to sign on the dotted line, Randle can step up and become a playmaker for the Giants to show that Cruz and Nicks are not the only receivers opposing teams should fear.
“Randle is an athlete that is a cross between A.J. Green and Julio Jones,” said Barry Every, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com.
It also doesn’t hurt when your quarterback has this to say about you. “He’s confident out there. He’s got a great skill set. I think he’s had a great spring. I think he’s done a lot of good things, made a lot of plays for us and I think he can be a great playmaker for us this year,” said Manning to Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News.
It also doesn’t hurt if your quarterback is a little disappointed at his top two receivers for not showing up to OTAs as Manning told the New York Daily News on Thursday.
Now is the time for Randle to step up and be that go-to guy for the Giants given what is happening with Cruz and Nicks.
In addition, Randle’s play this season could be a big factor on whether or not the Giants decide to re-sign Nicks after the season ends. If Randle indeed steps up and Nicks either gets hurt or does not play well enough, the Giants can take the chance to use the money they were saving for Nicks and use it to bulk up their secondary unit, which needs a lot of help.
It is unlikely the Giants will take the chance and let go of Nicks, but it is certainly possible if Randle can show evidence of being a top 2 receiver, given his pedigree.
Having Cruz and Nicks on the same team does benefit Randle because if he is on the field with them, the opposing team will be more concerned about Cruz and Nicks, leaving Randle with ample opportunities to make a play.
It’s the same reason Manningham was so key for the Giants success during his tenure. For instance, while defenders worried about Cruz and Nicks during the Giants Super Bowl season, Manningham was an open option for Manning. It also helped that Giants fan loved hearing “Manning to Manningham” whenever the two connected on a pass. But I digress.
Randle has the opportunity in front of him right now. The opportunity to become the top receiver for the Giants if he continues working closely with Manning. The opportunity to make the Giants dynamic duo of Nicks and Cruz a triple threat with him. And, the opportunity to show that he is the future of the New York Giants.
Last season, David Wilson was the spotlight rookie. This season, it may very well be Randle who will be the spotlight sophomore.