The New York Giants added two new weapons to their offensive attack in the first two rounds of the 2012 NFL Draft in running back David Wilson of Virginia Tech and wide receiver Rueben Randle of LSU. The two will help offset the losses of Mario Manningham and Brandon Jacobs to free agency, but also represent a change in both the Giants passing offense and running game.
Today on Giants 101, we look at the elements Eli Manning's newest weapons bring to the Giants attack.
While Rueben Randle and Mario Manningham do share a common trait in their crafty route running, Randle is a very different receiver than Manningham and brings a different skill set to the table for the G-Men. Nicks and Cruz are the clear number one and number two receiving options for Manning and the New York passing game, but Randle is likely to step in and take over Manningham's role as the number three option on the outside (Cruz will likely remain in the slot on the majority of the snaps, where he is at his best).
Manningham was a real vertical threat on the outside who was at his best working the sideline and taking advantage of one on one opportunities over the top. He's elusive and has very good stop and start moves in the open field to create extra yardage in space, but wasn't a guy who was going to run through tacklers or create much after initial contact.
Rueben Randle is more in the mold of an Anquan Boldin or Hakeem Nicks (although Nicks is a more explosive athlete and puts more pressure on defenses vertically in addition to his physical play over the middle and underneath), and brings a bigger target to the table for Manning. He's a tall, long athlete who will be a big threat in the red zone with his size, body control, and ability to snatch the football out of the air. Whereas the majority of Manningham's touchdowns came on fade routes to the pylon or on 30 and 40 yard throws, Randle is a guy who can catch the ball in traffic, win a jump ball, or catch the ball at the six yard line and drag a defender into the end zone.
Again, these are two players that are very different in the physical traits and skill set they bring to an offense. David Wilson is an electric runner, who is physical and powerful in his style, but is also very capable of breaking a 60 to 70 yard run anytime the football is in his hands.
Brandon Jacobs was obviously known for his size and the intimidation factor he brought to the Giants backfield. He was difficult to bring down with a head of steam and it often took multiple tacklers to get Jacobs to the ground.
Wilson is a smaller back but compares favorably to DeAngelo Williams and Tiki Barber. He's tough and competitive and looks to break out of tackles, but also has that rare acceleration to beat cornerbacks and safeties to the end zone once he gets to the outside. Wilson also brings a receiving threat out of the backfield with his soft hands and ability to make big plays in the screen game, something we didn't see nearly as much with Jacobs in his time as a Giant.
In the end, the Giants kind of swapped speed and big play ability from the passing game to the running game. They have gotten substantially more explosive in their running back group, while adding more size and physicality to their receiving core.
The receiving threat and big play ability on screens Wilson brings to the New York backfield should help New York negate some of the blitzes and heavy pass rush they will see with their reshuffled offensive line next season, as he is certainly capable of making defenses pay on the back end with open field space in front of him.
In the passing game, the Giants have become a little more difficult to contend with inside of the twenty, as Randle is another big body that operates well in traffic and can win the football in tight spaces (not to mention their addition of Martellus Bennett earlier in the off-season at tight end).
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