New York Giants: 5 No-Name Players Who Could Explode in 2013
5 No-Name Players Who Could Explode in 2013
Last year the New York Giants managed a 9-7 record, but failed to get the playoffs and to play consistently. It was a funny year for the Giants, coming off a surprising Super Bowl win few knew what fair expectations would be. A lot of the star players on the Giants had been no names the year before. Both Jason Pierre-Paul and Victor Cruz had gone from high-potential guys to dominant forces. Cruz continued his brilliance, but Pierre-Paul could not hold up the same level of production.
Cruz was the proto-type of this kind of player, exploding in a preseason game with three touchdowns and a crazy one handed catch. Giants fans knew something was is store.
Even last season the Giants had players “pop.” The Giants were about to get over .500. That happened in many ways because of unknown players playing extremely well. The best example is Martellus Bennett. In 2011, he had 144 yards receiving and then in 2012, he over quadrupled that with 626 yards to go along with five touchdowns.
Another big surprise was Stevie Brown, who somehow as a back-up had five interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Truth be told, Brown was a gambler, and it often paid off, but he was also beaten deep a few times. Jerry Reese gave him a vote of confidence when letting Kenny Phillps go, but now with his ACL tear it looks like another safety will have to step up.
This next season’s success or failure will probably be based on players like Brown, Cruz Bennett and Pierre-Paul. No names who have big seasons and change the course of the season. They seem hard to predict, but often close looks can see lots of talent in players who have a chance to get on the field. Here we will try to find out who might be those guys this year.
Justin Pugh was the Giants' first round pick, and though he was not expected to start as the injury bug has hit the Giants, it would surprise no one if he started over 10 games. Pugh is not crazy athletic and is not extremely talented at any one thing, but he is consistent. His intelligence and good footwork should mean that he can be solid for the G-men this year. It will be hard to see Pugh’s brilliance, as judging offensive linemen is always hard, but good offensive line play will always be the engine behind an offense. Just because his talent is not obvious does not diminish it.
Explosion Potential: He may not jump off the screen during games, but Pugh could end up being a pro bowl candidate as a rookie.
Spencer Paysinger has been a force on special teams for the Giants, now he is getting a chance to start on defense. He is a strong tackler with good reactions, but many have worries about him in coverage and staying consistent. While worries about him are legitimate he is a strong hitter with a lot of raw talent. If he can figure out how to utilize it he can be a strong player on defense for the Giants.
Explosion Potential: He has the talent to lead the team in tackles and the force to shut down opposing run games.
Rueben Randle is not exactly a no name, but he only is not because many people agree that he may explode this season. Lots of fantasy analysts have said to take a flier on him late, and with good reason. Rueben should be a strong third wide out for the Giants, but he could become a force if the Giants had an injury to either wide out. Hakeem Nicks seems to always be finding new injuries along his leg, and Cruz is currently out with a heel injury. Randle has a good chance to play at least half the games for the Giants as a No. 2 wide receiver. If he gets that chance watch out, he could have a huge season.
Explosion Potential: Randle could reach 700 yards receiving as a third wide receiver, but if a serious injury happens look out, he could hit 1,000 yards and seven plus TDs.
Prince Amukamara is not exactly a no name, but more like a side player who has always been a so-so player. He never was a solid starter for the Giants. He has started games, but it felt more like a necessity than an exciting new player. This preseason Amukamara has been on a tear. Amukamara was named as a starter for the Giants before any of the other corners, including Corey Webster, who for the last half-decade was the Giants No. 1 guy. Then Amukamara went out and made a great pick off of Geno Smith (that interception was not really Smith’s fault, unlike the other two, it was simply a great play). Amukamara is quickly developing into the Giants' cornerback of the future.
Explosion Potential: Amukamara scores well in completion percentage when thrown his way. Last year, only 47 percent of passes thrown toward him were caught. This year he could finish in the top five, and don't be surprised if he ends up with five interceptions this year, too.
Mathias Kiwanuka has been a good linebacker for the Giants, but is about to be a great defensive lineman. The Giants moved him to linebacker because they had very good defensive ends and a weak linebacking core, but after two years it has become clear that Kiwanuka is mediocre at best at LB. He is a natural defensive end and was always a force when he was moved there to confuse offenses. Now full time there, he will be a fixture around the quarterback. His move gives Justin Tuck more rest and possibly more time at defensive tackle on third down, where he has been successful throughout his career. Kiwanuka’s move back to defensive end is simply of the of the best decisions the Giants have made this season, and it should pay off big time.
Explosion Potential: Kiwanuka could easily have 12 sacks this season. His versatility will also allow for different looks against opposing offenses. Even when he does not get the sack, his movement should create more pressure on the quarterback. Get ready for a big year from the Big Blue defensive line.
Jay Cullen is a New York Giants writer for RantSports.com. Like him on Facebook at Jay Cullen-Rant Sports, or add him on Google