One of the few silver linings that surfaced for the New York Giants towards the end of the 2013 season was the emergence of wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan.
In the last three games of New York’s tumultuous year, Jernigan showed a spark that the Giants had previously not seen from him. In those three games, he caught 19 passes for 137 yards and scored three touchdowns, one of which came on a 49-yard end around.
The Giants drafted Jernigan in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft in hopes of acquiring a play-making return man on special teams. Jernigan had an electric college career and he was a three-time First-Team All-Sun Belt selection. While Jernigan was looked at as a solid wide receiver prospect, his big-play ability on special teams made him an even more attractive target.
However, Jernigan never quite found his footing in New York. Prior to the 2013 season, he had been shuffled in and out of the special teams lineup after failing to make an impact during the opportunities he had been given, which were plenty. Up until the the last three games of 2013, it looked as if Jernigan would be a washout in the not-so-distant future.
Now, it seems as though Jernigan may just be able to provide a lift for the G-Men, even if it is not where they initially intended. Although New York already has Victor Cruz in the slot, there is always room for another playmaker.
Look for Jernigan to possibly even leapfrog Mario Manningham on the depth chart. The Giants brought in Manningham to try and beef up their corps of wide receivers, which is really the extent of the attention New York has given to their wide receivers in the 2014 offseason.
As of now, Rueben Randle remains New York’s primary target, next to Cruz. This could be a potential problem considering the chemistry between Randle and Eli Manning wasn’t quite polished in 2013. Having another potential valuable target in Jernigan could seriously help alleviate some of the pressure on Randle’s young shoulders.