Almost immediately after he was signed as an undrafted free agent out of UMass, New York Giants wide receiver Julian Talley began hearing the comparisons to Victor Cruz. Both are from New Jersey, went to the same college, play the same position, failed to get drafted, and signed with the New York Giants right out of college. The similarities are striking and it has created a stir within the fan base that maybe Talley could be the Giants' next breakout star.
Although those predictions are premature, and maybe even unfair, Talley still has a lot to prove if he wants to remove himself from the shadow of Victor Cruz. As a junior at UMass, Talley caught 56 passes for 747 yards and went on to make the All-CAA Second Team. As a senior, he failed to garner any postseason accolades; however, he improved his production to 60 catches for 759 yards. Talley was able to stay consistent in his production even without having a talented quarterback to get him the ball. That being said, the transition from college to the NFL for a wide receiver can often be daunting. When asked about how he expects that transition to go, Talley stressed focusing on fundamentals.
"You hear it all the time, from high school to college, college to the NFL: it's about the adjustment to the speed of the game and doing the little detailed things, the little fundamentals. You really got to stress those and if you get those down, you'll be successful," he said.
On the field, Talley has an intriguing combination of size (6'1") and explosiveness. He does not possess the straight away speed (4.60 40-yard dash) that Victor Cruz has shown. However, he has an athletic build and showed off a 41.5-inch vertical leap at the UMass pro day. With his athleticism, Talley could become a productive NFL player if he can improve his route running ability.
However, Talley's problem this offseason is going to be that he is trying to make the team at one of the hardest positions possible. With Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Domenik Hixon, Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan, Ramses Barden, and maybe even Dan DePalma ahead of him on the depth chart, Talley is going to have to make some serious plays to even make the practice squad, let alone the 53-man roster. However, the overwhelming odds against Talley are not deterring him from being eager to get into training camp.
"I'm definitely trying to step it up a little bit. The older guys have done a great job of showing me things and helping me come along, but I feel like I've come along and things are starting to click for me in the whole offense and I'm very excited going into training camp," he said.
The Giants have enough young, talented wide receivers that they most likely will not keep Julian Talley after training camp concludes. Furthermore, the team has enough project wide receivers in Jerrel Jernigan and Ramses Barden that there will most likely not be enough reps in practice to get Talley the opportunities he needs to prove himself. That being said, he seems to be saying and doing all the right things, so do not be surprised if another undrafted free agent rookie out of UMass turns some heads during training camp this preseason.
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