The New York Giants enter the 2012 Draft looking to fill some holes left by free agency and injury. One of those holes, albeit a small one, is wide receiver. Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham left as a free agent for the San Francisco 49ers leaving a competition for the third wide receiver in his wake. Entering that battle will be Domenik Hixon, Jerrel Jernigan, and Ramses Barden. However, the Giants also figure to draft at least one wide receiver to add to the competition.
On prospect that is intriguing is North Carolina wide receiver Dwight Jones. Jones has an excellent blend of speed and height, at 6-3, 225 pounds, Jones ran a 4.55 40-yard dash at the Scouting Combine. He is a project, however. He didn’t emerge as a legitimate threat until his junior year when he made 62 catches for 946 yards and 4 touchdowns. He really put it together last year, however, making 85 catches for 1,196 yards and 12 touchdowns.
In college, Jones was pretty much a straight-line runner and didn’t show much ability to run crisp routes. He was able to outmuscle a lot of defensive backs in college, using his size and long, 34 inch arms to make difficult grabs. He has excellent timing on his leaps for jump balls which could translate into the NFL. He does have trouble getting separation at times when the defensive back gets physical at the line. His initial burst is excellent for a man his size so defensive backs will look to bump him at the line, hoping to throw him off his route. He will need to counter this and get back on his route quickly.
He isn’t afraid of working the middle of the field and defensive backs sometimes have a tough time bringing him down on the first hit due to his size. He needs to learn to show the right amount of physicality at the line to keep the defensive back from getting an upper hand.
Jones’ strength lies in his potential. The potential is there for a game-breaking wide receiver. He will need a lot of coaching and is a huge risk but he offers a high reward if he can realize his potential. There is no way Jones is drafted before the 4th or 5th round but if the Giants want to use their extra 4th rounder on a project with the potential to become a number one receiver a few years down the road there are worse things they can do. Or, they could be wasting their pick on a kid who might never realize his potential. Regardless, he is one of the more interesting wide receiver prospects in a draft full of them.