New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks was named the 90th best player in the NFL according to his peers as part of the NFL Network’s “Top 100: Players of 2012”, a list compiled by the players themselves. Last season, Nicks caught 76 passes for 1,192 yards and seven touchdowns. He, along with Victor Cruz, emerged as one of the most capable and dynamic wide receiver combinations the Giants have ever had.
In his three years with the New York Giants, Nicks has compiled numbers that suggest he is on the cusp of becoming even better. He has 202 catches for 3,034 yards, and 24 touchdowns. Not bad for a guy who has only played in 42 of a possible 48 games and has only made 33 starts for the G-Men. Injuries have nagged him over the past couple of years though he did start in all but one game last season. If fully healthy, which he should be heading into next season, Nicks will be poised to put up some big numbers.
I don’t doubt that Nicks is ready to take his place among the NFL’s elite receivers with Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald. He has the same ability to just dominate a football game and he proved that a couple of times last season. Against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 4, Nicks caught 10 passes for 162 yards and what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. In Week 14, against the Dallas Cowboys, Nicks caught eight passes for 163 yards in a huge 37-34 win. In 2010, Nicks caught 12 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 5 matchup against the Houston Texans. In Week 1 of the 2010 season, Nicks had 3 of his 4 catches go for touchdowns to defeat the Carolina Panthers.
The talent is there. It always has been. That is why the Giants chose Nicks 29th overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. This season, Hakeem Nicks will emerge as an elite wide receiver and will force himself even further up the list of the NFL’s Top 100. In recent years, the Giants offense has been focusing more and more on the pass. Quarterback Eli Manning just set the franchise single-season record for passing yards with 4,933, passing attempts with 589, and completions with 359. With Nicks, Cruz, and rookie Rueben Randle, the Giants will continue to throw the ball and Nicks could have himself a year similar to the one Cruz had this past year. Teams will be forced to pay attention to Cruz and Cruz will be the subject of double-teams the way Nicks was this past season. Adding a receiver with Randle’s talent will only help matters as Mario Manningham did.
Of course, this is all speculation and the NFL can be a finicky mistress with unforeseen fortunes and pitfalls. However, I think one thing is certain, we haven’t seen the best from Hakeem Nicks.