Randle won't just step in if Nicks goes

Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle catches a pass

Giants wide receiver Rueben Randle catches a pass during team training camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. (Aug. 14, 2013) (Credit: James Escher)

Indianapolis – The heir apparent to Hakeem Nicks is not so clear.

A year ago Giants general manager Jerry Reese said he thought that Rueben Randle had the makings of a future number-one wide receiver. Now, with Nicks about to bolt in free agency, Reese seemed to backtrack from that projection of Randle’s role.

“The jury is still out on that,” Reese said on Saturday at the NFL Scouting Combine when asked if Randle would replace Nicks as the top target (assuming, as most do, that Nicks is a goner). “He’s a good player. I’m not sure if he’s a one, if he’s a two, if he’s a three. But I think he can contribute to our receiver corps.” 

That seems to leave the door open for the Giants to bring in a main target either through free agency or in the draft. There are plenty of talented wide receivers who are expected to be game-breakers available at the top of the board, some of whom could even be available when the Giants make the 12th selection. The last time they spent a first-round pick on a receiver was when they drafted Nicks. And who did Nicks replace? Plaxico Burress who, although not a Giants draft pick, was also a first-rounder.

Bringing in a rookie this year could be less of a headache than in years past when young players struggled to find roles in the offensive system. Since everyone will be learning the new ways of Ben McAdoo, perhaps the Giants will pick a Mike Evans or a Kelvin Benjamin in the first round and plop them into the lineup opposite Victor Cruz.

Or opposite Randle with Cruz in the slot, since the Giants have not exactly given up on Randle, a second-round pick in 2012.

“We expect him to make a significant jump,” Reese said. “He led our team in touchdowns for our receivers and we expect him to continue to grow and be a more mature player and be a strong contributor for us.”

Tags: giants , reuben randle , hakeem nicks , jerry reese

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