Dwayne Harris is a versatile member of the New York Giants. However, his value seems to have declined in recent years. At his peak and ideal usefulness, Harris is a three-pronged weapon. He is a return man to be feared. He plays on special teams coverage units. And he is a useful and capable wide receiver. That flexibility is something all teams covet out of a back end roster spot.
With Harris’ slight decline, he has become less flexible and less useful to New York. He is no longer an asset on offense, garnering just one lone target all of last season. This after being targeted 57 times the previous season.
Harris also took a step back in the return game. He made some miscues and saw his opportunities decline as Odell Beckham Jr. returned kicks in big spots. Besides all that, Harris also has a contract that, even after being restructured, doesn’t line up with his output.
And yet, having said all that, it looked all but guaranteed that Harris would have a spot on the Giants. After all, no other player offered that versatility in need places for New York. That may no longer be true.
Enter undrafted free agent Travis Rudolph. Rudolph was a star player in college for Florida State. His name recognition didn’t translate to a spot in the draft, but he found his way onto a roster nonetheless. And now it looks like he may be encroaching on Harris’ corner.
In the Giants’ first preseason game, Rudolph saw as many targets on offense as Harris. He was also the main kick returner and split punt return opportunities with Donte Deayon. Rudolph made some plays in the return game. He caught one pass but also fumbled in the contest. It was an up-and-down performance overall for the rookie, but it opened up a possibility for New York.
If Rudolph can take all the roles of Harris, and do so on a minimum contract, he becomes a better asset for the franchise. He obviously doesn’t have the experience of Harris and won’t be as good in kick coverage, but Harris’ game seems to be slipping. There is no telling how closely he will resemble a Pro Bowl special teamer in 2017. One game doesn’t mean all that much in the grand scheme, but it opened up the possibility that Harris could be on the chopping block in favor of a young replacement.