Imagining An Epic Giants WR Depth Chart

The other day I ran a recap of the 2011 offensive depth chart, but I had another thought on the matter.

And those of you who read that post and saw my little question mark at the end — you already know where this is going. I’m just going to cut to the chase on this… this proposed WR depth chart that I’m imagining includes Plaxico Burress.

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Check out my epic group of WRs after the jump

So here’s the list of my wide receivers comprising the 2011 depth chart:

1. Hakeem Nicks
2. Mario Manningham
3. Steve Smith
4. Plaxico Burress
5. Ramses Barden
6. Domenik Hixon
7. Derek Hagan
8. Victor Cruz
9. Jerrel Jernigan

Yes I know I have 9 receivers listed here — but frankly after the year the Giants had last year with injuries I’d like to imagine that they add another roster spot for the depth they’ll have coming into camp, including Burress of course.

Now hear me out…

On Burress

Recently, the NY Post ran a very interesting article that featured an interview with Plaxico Burress and his family.

Well, I know I’ve been as hard on Plax in the past as anybody…. but forget the football angle for a second and lets talk about the human nature of this story — because it got me thinking. I admit, this article personally stuck a chord with me as a relatively new father imagining how hard it would be to find out that your new child was born the way Burress did. In a letter sent to prison from your wife, several days after it happened, after the guards denied your wife’s phone call while she was in labor. Congrats…

Then of course the obvious, not seeing your wife and children for 2 years… it would be the hardest thing I’d ever have to go through as a father and a husband. Life lessons are what they are, and bringing a non-registered loaded gun into a NYC nightclub should not go unpunished — but come June he will have paid his debt to society in accordance with the laws of NY and its then we can all consider Plaxico Burress as a potential NFL wide receiver once again. He says he’s in great shape:

He turns 34 in August, and he has told his wife he feels as if he is in great shape. “My body feels like the way it did in college,” he tells Tiffany. A diet heavy on vegetables has made him thinner. And the trademark goatee is gone.

Is he in football shape? No, but he’s clearly determined to stay fit and healthy. And the fact is the Giants NEED him back on their roster to accomplish one very important thing: BEATING THE PHILADELPHIA EAGLES.

Since Plax shot himself, the Giants have lost every game to the birds. The Eagles used to be scared they’d have to cover Plax, he was so big and imposing that they couldn’t stop him. And his willingness to block downfield all game to aid the run game — it’s what made that 2007-2008 Giants team so special in their power football persona. They could execute with the best of them.

Now the Giants have made tremendous strides in Burress’ absence, particularly at WR and they have a very formiddable group. But add into the mix another seasoned 6’6″ monster and you have a very deep, very dangerous WR depth chart.

On the other receivers

Hakeem Nicks / Mario Manningham – these guys are a lock to make the roster, and the way Super Mario came on at the end of last season and owned his #1 role on the team, you know the coaches loved it. He had the longest TD reception of the year, a game for which I was in attendance. (Great read by Mario, great awareness and throw by Eli btw).

Ramses Barden / Plaxico Burress – imagine two 6’6″ red zone threats flanking the offense, with Kevin Boss getting out into a route and Ahmad Bradshaw in the backfield. Where the hell is the ball going? Barden can catch a back corner fade like anyone else, just because he hasn’t proven it yet isn’t proof to me that he won’t. Of course we all know Plax can catch one in the clutch… the thought of these two guys stretching out the offense and creating mismatches really interests me. Will it happen? Who knows, but we can imagine it just fine.

Derek Hagan / Victor Cruz – both these guys have a lot of talent and a lot to prove, both would likely be special teams players no matter where else they fit in. Hagan held down the slot for Steve Smith when out with an injury, and his resilience after getting off the couch to join the ailing Giants was quite impressive. I think he makes the cut straight away this year. Cruz is a fan favorite and proved last year that he was consistently electric when he stepped out on the field. Would love to see what he can do in the regular season and I think Kevin Gilbride and Tom Coughlin are still intrigued too.

Steve Smith / Domenik Hixon / Jerrel Jernigan – to me these guys all fit in together here in the slot… and they’re all competing with each other for that security blanket role for Eli. Although Smith and Hixon have broken out at times to be a deep threat, I think the role here is more established as a ~10 yard receiver, not a deep threat. Besides, guys like Hixon and hopefully Jernigan can turn those short passes into a huge gain with their quick and elusive running style. Either Hixon or Jernigan become the returners for the Giants though regardless.

On who gets bumped?

Duke Calhoun
Devin Thomas
Michael Clayton
Darius Reynaud
Samuel Giguere
Todd Watkins

I don’t see the Giants having enough room on the roster to entertain keeping anyone here. I’m glad Michael Clayton is working with Eli in Hoboken but he is going to be a free agent as soon as the CBA is worked out, likely won’t be a Giants by the time camp starts.

Other positions to think about

Fullback — either Tom Coughlin and Kevin Gilbride nix this position all together and just rely on TE Bear Pascoe to block as he did last year (sorry Madison Hedgecock), or it doesn’t work.

Conclusion

I know — 9 receivers is way over the mark for the Giants, it goes against everything we’ve seen in recent years…. but every single one of these players would be indispensable for the Giants. Between return duties and special teams participation — these 9 receivers give the Giants the best chance to get back into the playoffs in 2011. Plaxico Burress back on the Giants would be an amazing thing to see come to pass, Eli’s high throws would have a consistent home once again, and I think it adds another important dimension to the Giants offense that they’ve been missing since he left: domination.

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