On paper, this appears to be one of the most talented Giants offenses since 2011. With Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, Barkley, a revamped offensive line and Shurmur creatively moving all of these pieces around, this offense should sniff 30 points at least a few times next season.

One of the few open competitions on the team that has somehow gotten less attention than the “competition” between Brett Jones and Jon Halapio is for the #3 wide receiver position. Coming off a season where Eli Manning attempted 176 passes to Roger Lewis Jr., Tavarres King, Brandon Marshall, Travis Rudolph, Hunter Sharp, Darius Powe and Kalif Raymond, the Giants recognized they needed to seek out more depth at receiver behind Beckham and Shepard.

The Giants signed Cody Latimer to a one year 2,500,000 deal with nearly all of it guaranteed. Latimer elevated his draft stock in 2014 with a strong combine and was drafted in the second round by the Denver Broncos. Inconsistency has contributed to his inability to breakthrough the Broncos depth chart; this season he wasn’t able to beat out Bennie Fowler for the #3 wide receiver role, yet, had his most productive season since he joined the NFL four years ago.

It begs the question, what did the Giants see in Latimer that persuaded them to sign him this offseason? I looked at every single pass targeted Latimier’s way and while he consistently struggled to separate from man coverage, he exhibited tremendous ball skills that should help elevate Eli’s game in 2018. Let’s take a look at the film.

Film Review

Week 2 Q2 10:20

This is one of the few times Latimer displayed his excellent ball skills against zone coverage. Latimer gave his quarterback a big target by coming back towards the ball while boxing out his defender to make the catch.

Latimer saw slightly more man coverage than zone coverage last year. Against man coverage, his average depth per target was higher when compared to the targets he received against zone coverage.

Coverage Avg Depth Per Target Targets
Man 16.80 15
Zone 9.15 13

Week 9 Q1 12:33

Running from the slot, Latimer runs a crossing route against man coverage and wins a ball that is thrown slightly behind him.

Week 9 Q2 :16

Facing man coverage again on the outside, Latimer runs a go route down the sideline and comes down with the contested catch. This won’t be the first time you see Latimer exhibit great ball skills on go routes. Against man coverage on the outside, the go route was the most commonly run route by Latimer last year.

Playing Outside WR Against Man Coverage
Route Yards Completions Targets
Go 59 2 5
Slant 0 0 1

Week 12 Q4 10:26

The Broncos display a pinch of creativity on this play. They sent Latimer on a wheel route towards the end zone from the slot. Again, Latimer displays strong ball skills and comes down with a touchdown. This catch should have been easier if the Broncos knew how to set a decent legal pick (you would think after playing the Patriots every season they would have picked this up by now).

Week 14 Q1 11:15

This was one of the most impressive grabs Latimer had last season. Against man coverage on the outside, the Jets defensive back does a great job of maintaining inside leverage on Latimer as they run down the sideline. Latimer adjusts to the ball thrown on his outside shoulder for the catch in tight coverage.

Week 15 Q3 9:46

Running a crossing route from the slot, this is one of the few examples of Latimer gaining separation from man coverage. A better throw could have resulted in Latimer gaining yards after the catch. What stands out about Latimer is his ability to display excellent ball skills even on throws that are slightly behind him.

Week 15 Q3 4:22

Let’s end the film review on a touchdown. In the slot against man coverage, Latimer runs a corner route and comes down with the pass even with the defensive back all over him.

Conclusion

From Plaxico Burress, Hakeem Nicks and Odell Beckham, Eli Manning has always benefited from pass catchers with excellent ball skills. Quarterbacks with a gunslinger mentality need players they trust to come down with the 50/50 balls. Latimer would have been a brutal fit in last years offense given his struggles with separating from man coverage, but under Shurmur the Giants will protect Eli better and give him more opportunities to attempt passes down the field.

Last season, Latimer was targeted seven times on passes that traveled at least 20 yards in the air. Of the seven attempts, he came down with four passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Even when Latimer is covered one-on-one, he’s still open. He should benefit from playing alongside a quarterback who has a history of giving his receivers opportunities to thrive.

Thanks for reading. Go Giants.

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