Jerrel Jernigan turned heads in the latter part of last season when he showed his true potential during the final three games. Jernigan caught 29 passes for 329 yards and scored a couple of touchdowns last year. Most of that production came at the end of year when he started three games in place of the injured Victor Cruz. Unfortunately for Jernigan, that is all he has shown since they drafted him in 2011. There is no doubting that Jernigan has talent and playmaking ability, but with the way the Giants’ roster is shaping up, it is unclear what role he will play.
Jernigan seemed poised for a breakout season after coming on strong at the end of last year but just getting on the field will be tough for him. When training camp opens he and Mario Manningham will be competing for the fourth wide receiver position behind Cruz, Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham Jr. who expected to fill out the top three roster spots.
Jernigan has a few advantages over Manningham in their roster battle. The first of which is the rapport he seems to have with Eli Manning. In his three starts the chemistry the two had was undeniable, as Eli was able to find Jernigan at least six times in each game. Also in Jernigan’s favor is that Manningham is coming off knee surgery he had in January. The former Super Bowl hero is expected to be medically cleared by training camp, but Jernigan’s extra time working in the Giants new offense and with Eli during OTAs will definitely be beneficial. The new offense will also feature more spread styles and four wide receiver looks that should get Jernigan some more touches in the preseason.
If Ben McAdoo’s offense is anything like the system the Packers run in Green Bay, than the Giants are hoping their former third rounder can play similar role as Jarrett Boykin did last season. Jernigan will have to prove that he can consistently make plays on offense this season, not only because he is in the final year of his rookie deal, but also because there is no spot open for him on special teams. The Giants signed Trindon Holliday and Quintin Demps, and have David Wilson on the roster, that will all likely see more time than he will at kick returner. Fourth string kick returners normally do not make NFL rosters. If Jernigan cannot prove his worth as a receiver the Giants will likely part ways with him at season’s end.
Like what you see? Be sure to follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on all things New York Giants!