When speaking of Eli Manning, it tends to be a hot topic among NFL fans. On one hand, his laid back demeanor has led to criticism among many and his sometimes sloppy play has backed him up. In addition, having to live up to the hype of all-time great Peyton Manning isn’t easy.
But on the other hand, Manning is a two-time Super Bowl MVP and, despite his knack for interceptions, has gone largely underrated throughout his time in the NFL. Sure, he doesn’t post the best stats, but the fact that he never misses a game and constantly puts his team in the position to win says something about the type of player he is.
But depending on what side of the fence you fall on in the Manning debate, one thing is for certain: he hasn't had the best options at wide receiver to throw to.
Sure, the trio of Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard currently look like one of the best receiving units in the entire league. But for a large portion of his career, Manning hasn’t had top tier targets to help him out when the situation calls for it.
Let’s take a look at some of those receivers.
15 Tim Carter
When the New York Giants selected Tim Carter in the second round back in 2002, they were expecting a lot out of the receiver. Back at Auburn, Carter wasn’t only a receiver and return specialist, but he also starred on the track team as well. After a decent rookie campaign at Giants Stadium, the sky was the limit as Carter entered his third year with Eli Manning at the helm. Unfortunately, however, Carter failed to live up to expectations as he wasn’t much of a threat by the time Manning became the starting quarterback.
14 Preston Parker
Parker didn’t have a long stint with the Giants, as he spent only two seasons in a Big Blue uniform. His time with the organization, however, was memorable; but unfortunately, it was mostly for the other reasons that players want to be remembered for. Parker’s first year with the Giants was largely successful; he played in all 16 games, caught 36 passes for 418 yards, scored two touchdowns and also contributed on special teams. Entering 2015 as the Giants starting slot receiver, many thought he could capitalize on the year prior.
13 Sinorice Moss
12 Ramses Barden
11 Louis Murphy
10 Adrien Robinson
9 Michael Jennings
8 Derek Hagan
7 Travis Beckum
Despite being noted as a tight end on the depth chart, there’s no denying that Travis Beckum was more of a receiver than a tight end. Another product of the Giants draft selections (third round pick in 2010), Beckum, a Wisconsin Badger, was a poor run blocker, making him a threat in the passing game and nothing else. He lined up in the slot a lot of the time, but despite a good matchup against safeties and linebackers, he failed to make an impact.
6 Mario Manningham
Despite being an elite college receiver with the University of Michigan, Mario Manningham failed to be a good choice for most teams due to his marijuana use and classroom issues. The Giants, however, were in need of options for Manning to throw to, and they took a risk by taking Manningham in the third round of the 2008 draft. To be fair, the receiver did post decent numbers in his first four seasons with the Giants (160 receptions, 2,315 yards, 18 touchdowns), and he also made one of the most clutch catches in Super Bowl history. With all that said, Manningham’s talent paralleled some of the best in the game and he was never able to put it all together.
5 Hakeem Nicks
Like Manningham, Hakeem Nicks didn’t have a terrible career with the Giants, and was at one point Manning’s favorite target. His problem, however, lied in his ability to stay healthy, hampering a once promising NFL career. The organization took Hicks in the first round back in 2009 and he became a threat almost immediately. After posting back-to-back 1,000-plus yard seasons in 2010-2011, Nicks was looking like one of the NFL’s next elite receivers.
4 Jerrel Jernigan
Talk about a huge disappointment. Despite coming out of a small school like Troy University, Jerrel Jernigan was a jack-of-all-trades for his team, as he worked as a receiver, returner and even ran out of the backfield as well. Drawing comparisons similar to Wes Welker at the time, the Giants used their third round pick back in 2011 to get him. For the longest time, Manning and the offensive coaching staff tried to make Jernigan comfortable as they designed specific plays both in the backfield and out of the slot for him.
3 David Tyree
Giants fans, don’t get mad - I know what David Tyree means to the organization, and if it wasn’t for his tremendous helmet catch and touchdown in Super Bowl XLII, the New England Patriots would be the greatest team in the history of sports. But outside of that game, Tyree failed to be the receiver that the Giants thought he could be when he came out of Syracuse. From 2003-2007, he never caught more than 19 passes in a season, totaling just 650 yards and four touchdowns over that span.
2 Brandon Myers
After the Giants won their first Super Bowl of the 21st century with replacement Kevin Boss as one of Manning’s favorite targets, the organization believed that the tight end position could be a revolving door. They thought they solved their issue when they inked Brandon Myers to a team friendly four-year, $14.25 million deal after a breakout season with the Oakland Raiders. Instead of capitalizing on his best season to date, Myers ended up being one of the worst free agent signings in team history.
1 Rueben Randle
Who else could take the cake as Eli Manning’s worst receiver? Like Manningham and Nicks, Randle was a top receiving threat when playing collegiately at Louisiana State University, and the Giants - at the time - were lucky enough to snag him in the second round. Despite the condition of his knees and maturity issues, Randle succeeded…on paper. In his four seasons with the Giants, he hauled in 188 passes for 2,644 yards, good for 20 touchdowns. But when watching the game, it was another story.
Randle failed to complete routes, didn’t compete for balls and looked lazy a lot of the time, resulting in a ton of interceptions credited to Manning but should have been given to Randle. He signed with the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason but was cut before the regular season began.
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