In the absence of Odell Beckham Jr., another rookie wide receiver is trying to steal some of the spotlight. Unlike the New York Giants first-round selection, Corey Washington wasn’t exactly a popular prospect coming out of Division II Newberry College and went undrafted, signing with the Arizona Cardinals on May 12th. Washington was a relative unknown to most outsiders until he was given an opportunity to showcase his ability in the Giants' preseason opener against the Bills in the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.
On the biggest stage of his career, Washington will most likely be remembered for a well-executed double move followed by an athletic leap over his defender as he adjusted, hauled in the pass that was specifically designed for him, and then broke free from his defender for 73-yard touchdown from Ryan Nassib. It was his only catch of the game, but wasn’t the first time quarterback Ryan Nassib or Tom Coughlin had seen Washington make such plays. In fact, Nassib later disclosed that the play was specifically designed for Washington, providing some insight to the value the Giants see in the young receiver.
“On that play it’s a pretty far downfield throw,” Nassib told Newsday. “We put Corey out there specifically because he can do stuff like that. He’s proven it in practice that he can make plays like that. It worked out great.”
Tom Coughlin also commented on Washington and hinted at another means by which Washington could make the team. Not only is Washington a threat running routes, catching passes, utilizing his leaping ability and size (6-foot-4, 214 pounds); the undrafted receiver has impressed on special teams as well.
“He’s done some things that are pretty spectacular that have gotten our attention,” Tom Coughlin said Monday of Washington’s practices in training camp. “It is something that you do sit up and notice when you see it because you are always thinking, can he take the ball off the top of the defender? Certainly Corey has shown that he can.”
On the subject of special teams Coughlin wasn’t shy to point out Washington’s success in that aspect of the game either.
“He has done some things that were pretty spectacular that got our attention,” Coughlin told the New York Daily News. “One, as a gunner, just flat-out running and splitting the double-team and then moving on down the field to make a play on a punt returner.”
"I can do that, be a deep threat," Washington said. "I can catch the ball, make some moves. You haven't seen that yet. I can move the chains, be a contributor to the team."
Washington has a chip on his shoulder and has embraced the role of the underdog. As the tallest receiver on the team, Washington continued to emit confidence as he alluded to his desire to be a difference maker for the Giants.
"I'm trying to replace [Hakeem] Nicks and make all the big plays," he added.
Washington has a long way to go before being in position to actualize such goals, but he seems to be taking advantage of Mario Manningham’s sluggish start and Odell Beckham's absence due to a lingering hamstring injury. Marcus Harris is also in the mix as he made the most of his opportunity as well this past Sunday. Washington however, due to his size and athleticism, may have the most upside out of those receivers fighting for the final slot and or gunner position on special teams.
Washington caught 44 passes for 839 yards and 13 touchdowns last season for Newberry. If the touchdown total and size are any indication, he could at the very least be the red zone threat Ramses Barden never was, or could potentially be what Plaxico Burress was. Albeit the production came against Division II opponents, for what it’s worth college football and NFL draft analyst Todd McShay was once “excited” to scout the Giants’ Corey Washington.
"Really excited to see the Washington's on Saturday, Tony Washington from App State and Corey Washington from Newberry at the wide receiver position. Those guys really stood out this week," said ESPN’s Todd McShay.
The Giants struck Gold in a similar scenario not too long ago when they discovered another undrafted wide receiver in a preseason game. That would be Victor Cruz, who is now widely considered one of the best slot receivers in the NFL. Cruz should be a great tutor and source of inspiration for an undrafted underdog like Washington. Eli should also be rooting for the rookie, as you can never really have enough playmakers, especially at 6-foot-4 with a 33 inch vertical.
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Tags: Corey Washington, Football, Mario Manningham, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Odell Beckham Jr., Plaxico Burress, Ramses Barden, Ryan Nassib, Tom Coughlin, Victor Cruz