2011 NFL Draft: With the 83rd Pick, The Giants Select Troy WR Jerrel Jernigan

By Jeff Shull

The New York Giants added a weapon for Eli in the future, but in the short term they got an extremely versatile player who’s affect will be felt all over the field. He played QB, WR, RB, and return man for Troy, and show cased his elite speed with a 4.4 40-yard dash at the combine.

The Giants don’t have anyone that can stretch the field from the wide receiver position; Mario Manningham has been that guy but he doesn’t have the same speed as Jernigan.

This pick is also mainly because Jernigan was an outstanding special teams player, averaging more than 23 yards per kick return the past two seasons. He also returned punts as a senior, averaging nine yards per return. He scored two return touchdowns as a senior.

He showed off his versatility while at Troy, having three straight seasons with over 1000 yards from scrimmage. He surpassed both 1000 yards from scrimmage and over 900 returns yards in his senior season.

He brings a lot to the table, and the wide receivers on the roster will have a hard time beating him out for the starting return man.

Like I said before, he could also be a terrific slot receiver should Steve Smith not be 100 percent when the 2011 season starts. It could potentially take a year for Smith to recover, and Jernigan was a terrific route runner in college and had a ton of catches. He finished his four-year career with 262 catches.

Here is what CBS Sports had to say about Jernigan:

A record-breaking receiver and returner for a university famous for producing NFL talent, Jernigan may wind up as the first senior drafted at his position — though few fans outside of the Sun Belt Conference have likely seen him play.

Spurned by Alabama and Auburn despite a productive prep career, Jernigan signed with Troy and emerged as one of the more productive receivers in college football. A three-time all-conference selection at wide receiver and two-time choice as a returner, Jernigan leaves as the all-time leader in receiving yards (3,128), receptions (262) and all-purpose yards (5,971) in both Sun Belt Conference and Troy history. He also ranks in the top five in each of those categories among NCAA active career leaders.

Has gained considerable bulk and strength to combat press coverage, but can be held up at the line of scrimmage. Good agility and developing technique in this area. Possesses rare straight-line speed to punish cornerbacks who are unable to keep him from gaining a free release. Has the speed to pull away on the vertical route.

Does a nice job of catching the ball with his hands. Can extend and pluck outside of his frame. Good strength and toughness to take the big hit and hang on to the football. Good body control to contort in space to make the tough grab of a poorly throw pass. Reliable hands for the return game.

Very good athlete, but remains a work in progress in this area. Too often rounds off his routes, as he’s often able to generate separation based strictly on his athleticism. Not used on a wide variety of routes in this offense and does much of his damage on screens and other underneath options. Can sink his hips and explode out of his cuts, however, so the potential is there for him to be a very good route-runner with greater focus.

Taking away from that is that he is raw as a wide receiver with room for growth, but can be a slot receiver right away given his ability to catch the ball with his hands and take big hits over the middle.

The Giants could have gone a different direction by taking a linebacker, but not many people will complain that they got help in the return game.

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