Randle, a second-round pick out of LSU in the 2012 NFL Draft, has been targeted as a breakout performer this year by several analysts. He showed glimpses of his big-play potential last season, including a two-touchdown game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
In the offseason, Randle used the absences of Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks at voluntary OTAs to help advance his chemistry with Eli Manning. Coaches raved about Randle’s development, and he was also a standout at training camp.
Last year, part of the Giants’ offensive struggles were due to the lack of a legitimate third receiving threat. Nicks was battling a knee injury and Cruz had to shoulder the weight of his absence. As a rookie, Randle wasn’t ready for the responsibility and the other options, including Ramses Barden and Jerrel Jernigan, did not pan out accordingly.
The best defenses in the NFL now have two prolific cornerbacks, so the need for three proven wide receivers has become extremely important.
Everything points to Randle stepping into that role this season. His development seems to have come a long way, and people are even talking about the idea of letting Nicks walk at the end of the year if Randle shows he can consistently produce.
Sunday night’s opener against the Cowboys will be a great test for Randle and the Giants’ offense. Dallas has two very solid cornerbacks in Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. Both Cruz and Nicks have battled injuries this offseason, and the need for Randle’s emergence has grown tenfold. The offense’s success against Dallas will depend on the whether Randle is ready for a role in the spotlight.
Manning has the ability to transform a third receiver into a stud. Just look at Cruz as Exhibit A. Randle is a different type of receiver, but his ability and potential are right there. He’s been handed the opportunity, and now it’s up to him show what he is capable of doing. The Giants fate depends on it.
Daniel Brennan covers the New York Giants for Rant Sports. He lives in Westchester, New York and is a graduate of Quinnipiac University.