The Giants have all three phases of a career covered when it comes to their top wide receivers.
They have the fully bloomed superstar in Odell Beckham Jr., one of the most dynamic players in the NFL and certainly one of the most exciting players ever to wear a Giants uniform.
Beckham is entering his third season, and while his off-the-field activities have made headlines the last few months, he has shown no sign of letting those dalliances distract from his primary objective of leading the Giants to a Super Bowl.
He’ll certainly be tested this season when it comes to his mental maturity. After last season’s ugly incidents with Josh Norman he showed he can be vulnerable to head games and players getting under his skin. Having Norman in the division with Washington will add to that hurdle. But in just two years, Beckham has made it pretty clear that his physical gifts are transcendent.
They have the aging star in Victor Cruz, who is trying to return to his past glories after missing nearly two full calendar years of competitive football. Cruz tried to return from a 2014 torn patellar tendon last summer, but a calf injury sidelined him for the entire 2015 schedule. He never even made it to a preseason game. The closest he came to full-speed competition was a few routes in a joint practice with the Bengals during training camp.
Now, after surgery for the calf, he appears ready to get back on the field. The question will be how much has he lost — he turns 30 this season — and how much does he have left? All signs point to him being able to overcome the calf and he was able to run a few routes in minicamp, but as last year taught him and the Giants, just wanting to make a comeback doesn’t mean it will happen.
The third “stage” is the rookie with promise, and that’s where Sterling Shepard fits in. The second-round pick showed tremendous growth in spring workouts and seems to be adjusting well to the playbook as well as Eli Manning. When the Giants drafted him, many said he was reminiscent of a young Victor Cruz, and even Cruz himself has said he sees some of those similarities. If he can play the way Cruz did in his first full NFL season — 2011 when he helped the Giants win a Super Bowl — and Cruz can be on the field, the Giants could have the best receiver group in the NFL.
Behind the projected Big Three is even more depth.
Dwayne Harris showed last year that he is more than just a special teams ace and he can be counted on as a receiver. Second-year player Geremy Davis looks to have made big strides in his game. Undrafted rookie Roger Lewis has the potential to be an unsung acquisition. And French receiver Anthony Dable will be an interesting follow this camp as he continues his first full season in organized football.