As voluntary workouts begin, it is back to work for many NFL players. The Giants are one of nineteen teams to hold voluntary workouts, and with these workouts we commence a new year of hope and promise for Big Blue. With many new faces, the team surely looks very different on paper than the team that lost its first six games of last year. The Giants went out this offseason and acquired numerous free agents, most notably CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and RB Rashad Jennings.
Along with these fresh faces to join New York, there is still a core nucleus of players who have been with big blue for years and with some entering the prime of their careers. Over the past few seasons, the fans have witnessed the emergence of many young Giants, such as Victor Cruz and Jason Pierre-Paul in 2011, and Stevie Brown in 2012. This year, there are several young players who have flashed signs of prominence and are slated to break out into stardom Here are 5 New York Giants ready to break out 2014.
Heading into his fourth season out of Nebraska, the first round pick in 2011 has become one of the better cover-corners in the game. He has increased his number of tackles per season by over 30 each season (including leading all corners with 76 tackles in 2013), as well as more than doubled the number of passes defended each season. He forced two fumbles last season, and has avoided injuries for the most part since breaking his foot in 2011, playing in all 16 games last season. Although he only has one interception per season, his pass-defending skills and coverage ability make up for his lack of picks. His constant seasonal improvement and overall health make him a prime candidate to breakout and become a premier corner in 2014.
Entering into his sophomore season out of Texas A&M, the third round pick in 2013 was seen by many as a steal in the draft due to his length and explosiveness. He did however fall to the third round because he lacks edge athleticism, but Moore excels with a great motor and quickness off the edge. In his rookie season, he flashed his potential when he had a dominant preseason, but was limited by injuries and never really fit into the defensive line rotation. He was reduced to playing mostly on special teams, with just 136 defensive snaps. He did, however, have 2 forced fumbles and a blocked punt in the regular season despite the lack of playing time. With Justin Tuck gone, Moore is the favorite for the Giants' starting left end job opposite Pierre-Paul and has the potential for a breakout year.
3. Rueben Randle
In his third year as a pro out, the big-bodied former LSU product was considered to be the top wide receiver prospect in the nation coming out of high school. Drafted in the second round in 2012, Randle had a solid rookie season and led the Giants in touchdown receptions in the 2013 season in only his sophomore season with six touchdowns. He did though have repeated disconnect with QB Eli Manning at times running routes, which led to several of Manning's interceptions. Much of this disconnect can be attributed to former OC Kevin Gilbride's read-react, vertical option routes.
Conversely, new Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo has been handed complete control of the Giants' offense and is installing a West Coast scheme very similar to the one he learned and ran in Green Bay. This means a lot more quick-hitting, timing routes and fewer option routes which gave Randle difficulty. The system change will definitely speed up the maturation of the already immensely talented Randle and guide him to the top tier of receivers in the league.Troy, this lesser known receiver was used sparingly in his first two years in the league, catching only three passes in total. As a fourth round pick in 2011, he was seen as one of the top wide receivers in the draft with great speed. But under Gilbride, he never really got the opportunity to play consistently until the end of last season, where he had 19 receptions for 237 yards and 2 touchdowns in the final three games. This prompted President John Mara to question "why it took three years for them to find out that Jerrel Jernigan is a player." Now, Jernigan has the opportunity to thrive as McAdoo brings a ton of three wide out sets to New York.
Practically locked in as the No. 3 receiver behind Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle, Jernigan is capable of playing both inside and outside and the quickness he has shown as a kick returner will create matchup nightmares for slot corners who line up opposite to him. After this season, to President Mara and all Giant's fans liking, everyone will know that Jerrel Jernigan is indeed a player… and quite possibly the next slot receiver to flourish on the Giants.
5. Rashad Jennings
In his fifth season out of Liberty, Jennings is an all-purpose back who has never found a permanent home. At 6-foot-1 and 231 pounds, he has ideal size and strength of a workhorse back. He has bounced around with Jacksonville and Oakland predominantly as a backup or a "change of pace back." The Giants signed him to a four-year deal with the belief that he is capable of being a physical, yet explosive every-down back. When he has played, he has thrived with a career average of 4.6 yards per carry and has increased his total carries, yards, and yards per game each season. He is also a good pass-catcher, with just under 300 receiving yards last season. Offensive Coordinator McAdoo frequents halfback screens, and Jennings is primed to be a major part of the screen game.
Even with all of his overall ability, Jennings has not been given the opportunity to play full-time. The Giants are the perfect place for him to succeed due to the lack of depth behind him. David Wilson is coming off neck surgery and won't be trusted on third downs, and neither Michael Cox nor Peyton Hillis are even locks make the final roster. Also, he has only lost one fumble in his career and is good in pass protection, which are requirements if you are to play halfback for Big Blue. Jennings isn't flashy, but he's a prototypical Tom Coughlin back with Pro Bowl potential.