Jerrel Jernigan has been a New York Giant for the entirety of his NFL career, since he was drafted in the 3rd round by the team in the 2011 draft. Currently, he is in the third year of his four-year contract with the team.
Jernigan has never quite lived up to the potential he showed in his college years. During his time as a Troy University Trojan, the wide receiver was able to rack up 262 total receptions for over 3,000 yards. In his junior year alone (2009), he had 1,101 receiving yards, averaging 15.5 yards per reception.
If his performance as a receiver were not impressive enough, Jernigan displayed his athletic diversity as a running back, kick returner, and as a quarterback, as well. He was selected to the first-team All-Sun Belt Conference twice, and was described by the Trojan’s offensive coordinator as the team’s “catalyst.”
Unfortunately, once he made it to the NFL, Jernigan fell short of the hype. In fact, he has been more of a disappointment than anything else. Between the 2012 and the 2013 season thus far, Jernigan has only a mere 13 receptions, for just over 100 yards total. He has not scored a single touchdown.
The Giants also use Jernigan as a kick returner, but his performance on special teams has not been overly exciting either. In fact, the most memorable moment from this season might just be Jernigan’s fumble on the opening kickoff in the game against the Raiders, which Oakland returned for a touchdown.
New York already has a solid receiving core with Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Reuben Randle. Although this depth may have hindered Jernigan from reaching his full potential, it also shows the team has enough talent to survive without him, despite the uncertainty surrounding Nicks’ future with the team.
In this league, wide receivers can come a dime a dozen. While a team’s top receivers may cost big bucks and early round draft picks, guys listed third or even fourth on the depth chart, like Jernigan, are easily replaceable. Sometimes, even big name players can emerge from unlikely places- take Victor Cruz as your primary evidence of this.
Early in the season, head coach Tom Coughlin expressed that he wanted to see more of what Jernigan could do, and hoped he could give the team “more options.” With what Jernigan has shown so far, he may not have given the Giants enough reason to keep him around.
The main takeaway point is this; Jerrel Jernigan is highly replaceable, and the Giants should look for a receiver who not only better fits into their offensive system, but who can also be a more dynamic special teams contributor.
Alexis Celluro | Featured Columnist
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