With their first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. out of LSU. Beckham Jr. gives the Giants a wide receiver to fill the void left by Hakeem Nicks’ departure to the Indianapolis Colts. He will bring the vertical option back to the Giants offense, as he had 26 receptions on balls thrown 15+ yards down the field. He should also light a fire underneath his former LSU teammate in Rueben Randle.
In his second season in the NFL, Randle had his role expanded in the offense. He flashed some great play, doubling his stats across the board and finishing with 41 receptions, 611 yards and six touchdowns. The problem with Randle was that he almost always followed up his positive play with a negative one.
Too often last season, Randle would run the wrong route. His confusion about where to be on the field was a constant problem, resulting in plenty of the 27 interceptions that Eli Manning threw last season.
Randle must improve upon his understanding of the playbook, and his route running in general. Too often last season he was not in the right position, and it is something that needs to change this season. Last year the Giants still had Nicks to depend on if Randle struggled, this year he will be the guy starting on the outside.
If Randle does not show improvement over the summer, he may not be in for as big of an expanded role in the offense as originally expected. With Beckham Jr. now in the fold, the Giants have options to replace Randle if he is not producing how he is capable of doing.
Victor Cruz is still in town, and is one of the most productive slot receivers in the NFL. He is capable of playing on the outside if needed, but for the Giants to be most successful they will want him working the slot.
They also have Jerrel Jernigan, who showcased what he is capable of the last three games of 2013 when Cruz was injured. He finally started to show the skills that the Giants had seen and liked enough when they selected him out of Troy in 2011.
The Giants also brought back Mario Manningham, someone they, and more importantly Manning, are familiar with.
In a perfect world, Beckham and Randle will be on the outside, with Cruz manning the slot and Jernigan and Manningham playing reserve roles and spelling them when needed. If Randle does not grasp the new offense and struggles, moving Cruz to the outside and letting Jernigan man the slot is something they could consider. With the Beckham selection, the pressure is on this season for Randle to take his game to the next level and help revive what was a poor Giants offense from 2013.