Things change quickly in the NFL, and the New York Giants are no longer thin at wide receiver. Not after signing Parris Campbell in free agency, retaining Isaiah Hodgins, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, along with hosting the top wideouts in the 2023 NFL draft class.
All of those developments mean ultimately there may not be room for another new face, Jamison Crowder. He’s not “likely” to make the roster, according to Dan Duggan of The Athletic.
Duggan believes Crowder, who also signed with the Giants in this year’s veteran market, is “an insurance policy” for Shepard and second-year pro Wan’Dale Robinson. They play slot receiver, “a crowded position,” per Duggan.
Shepard and Robinson are also recovering after each suffered a torn ACL last season. If they’re healthy, “there likely isn’t a roster spot available for Crowder unless he claims the punt returner job.”
It’s a gloomy prediction considering Crowder boasts a decent pedigree from stops with Washington, the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. The 29-year-old has proved he can be an asset between the numbers and in the red zone, two areas where the Giants need a boost in the passing game.
Busy Wide Receiver Room Will Impact Veteran
Timing is hardly on Crowder’s side after he signed a one-year deal with the Giants back in March. He arrived at a time when the Giants are well-stocked in his preferred role, namely the slot.
As Duggan pointed out, “Wan’Dale Robinson is a slot-only player, while Sterling Shepard and Parris Campbell can play inside and outside.” Crowder has usually operated from the inside since he entered the league as a fourth-round pick for Washington in 2015.
His best season came with the Jets in 2019, when Crowder snagged 82 catches for 833 yards and six touchdowns. One of those scores came against the Giants, when Crowder worked the middle of the field from a bunch formation.
Crowder wasn’t nearly as prolific with the Bills in 2022, catching a mere six passes for 60 yards. He did turn four of those catches into first downs and gained half of those yards after the catch, per Pro Football Reference.
The underlying numbers are appealing, but Duggan detailed some of the shortcomings in Crowder’s game. Those deficiencies include struggling “against man coverage” and offering “little explosiveness after the catch.”
Any weakness could prove fatal when Crowder is competing against Robinson and Shepard for snaps from the slot. Crowder’s case will also be harmed if the Giants add a first-round draft pick to their established receivers.
The idea the Giants will use the 25th pick on a wideout is gaining traction amid the team hosting visits for some of the top prospects. They include Tennessee burner Jalin Hyatt and USC star Jordan Addison, according to NorthJersey.com’s Art Stapleton.
Addison is the most intriguing name among the group, but at 6 foot and 175 pounds, he has a similar physical profile to Crowder, Shepard and Robinson. Averaging 14.8 yards per catch with the Torjans has alerted pro teams Addison can make big plays across the middle and on the outside, with Draft Network’s Kyle Crabbs dubbing him a “primary volume target.”
Crowder’s only way to beat the numbers game may be to rely on the ace up his sleeve. Namely, his ample experience in the return game, one area where the Giants have more than a few question marks.
Giants Still Have Gaps to Fill in Return Game
Returning punts has rarely been a problem for Crowder, who has averaged 8.2 yards per return for his career. Crowder’s also averaged 12.7 yards returning kickoffs.
Those are solid numbers that should appeal to the Giants after Richie James joined the Kansas City Chiefs in free agency. James had issues as a returner last season, averaging 7.3 yards and struggling to protect the football.
Crowder’s presence would solve the problem, but Addison could also add some dynamism to football’s third phase. He was explosive running back punts for Pitt in 2021.
If the Giants select Addison, Crowder’s will face an even taller task making and sticking on the final roster. He’s experienced and savvy, but Crowder already looks like the odd man out.