Victor Cruz at an event where Nike unveiled the new...

Victor Cruz at an event where Nike unveiled the new NFL game jerseys. (April 3, 2012) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Victor Cruz was voted as the 39th best player in the NFL, which isn’t bad for a guy who at the beginning of the season had to be wondering is he’d even make the Giants’ 53-man roster. But his breakout season led to the honor (along with, you know, a Super Bowl). Fellow Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks came in at 90 on the NFL Network’s list of the top 100 players a few weeks ago. So, does that mean the Giants have the best receiving tandem in the NFL?

“Most definitely,” Cruz said on NFL Network after the latest set of rankings were unveiled. “Teams have to account for both of us and any time we’re both on the field together, it’s hard to just key-in on one guy. He’s definitely one of the best in the league to me and then us together we pack a powerful one-two punch. Hopefully we can stay together a very long time.”

Of course that will cost a lot of money. Nicks’ rookie contract expires after the 2013 season and Cruz is under contract (and grossly underpaid under that contract) through this upcoming season but will be a restricted free agent after that. Keeping them together, though, may be one way to improve Eli Manning’s standing on that same list.

Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, came in 31st among NFL players. In other words, there are enough players in the league that each team in the NFL except one can have one. Does that seem possible? Eh, it’s just a list. And there are four quarterbacks ahead of Manning: presumably Aaron Rogers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger in some order.

Manning wasn’t even on the list last year. And his brother Peyton, who didn’t take a snap in 2011, was ranked 50th. So there is some wiggle room in these evaluations.

“With regards to where he is with the other quarterbacks, this puts him in the elite category and he clearly deserves that,” Brian Billick said on NFL Network after Manning was announced.

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