Draft Day Decision: Should Victor Cruz Be Considered A WR1 Heading Into 2013?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Victor Cruz is generally thought of as a big play threat, as someone who can take the ball the distance any time he touches it. Is that really the case, though? When we look at 2012’s numbers, it certainly doesn’t appear to be.

Here’s just a quick snapshot of some of the key numbers:

  • 12.7 yards per catch
  • 12 receptions of 20+ yards (tied for 28th)
  • 3 receptions of 40+ yards (tied for 22nd)

Those numbers pale in comparison to what he did in 2011 when he averaged 18.7 yards per catch, 25 receptions of 20+ yards (tied for 3rd) and 9 receptions of 40+ yards (second, just one behind Calvin Johnson).

So, what exactly changed?

One explanation could’ve been the absence of Hakeem Nicks, allowing defenses to focus more of their attention on Cruz. That’s a fair thought, in theory. However, from Weeks 6-10, when both were starting, Cruz only once averaged more than 13.4 yards per catch in a game. In Weeks 13 and 14 he did average 20.8 and 15.1 yards per reception, but that’s hardly enough as it appears to be more of the aberration than the rule in 2012.

Could we blame Eli Manning? Maybe, since he was inconsistent at times, but again that may not hold much water.

Could opposing defenses simply have caught on to Cruz and his game? This is possible and could help explain the change in numbers. An extra bump at the line slowing him down perhaps?

That’s not to say Cruz wasn’t productive, because he certainly was. Maybe he makes the adjustment and gets off the line better. Maybe a healthy Nicks helps take away some of the focus.  Regardless we need to be realistic entering the year; Cruz simply may not be that explosive receiver we saw in 2011. He may not be able to break seemingly innocent passes for 50 or 60 yards to the end zone.

He’s still going to catch passes (and TD). He’s still going to accumulate yards, but he easily could be closer to 2012 (86/1,092/10) then 2011 (82/1,536/9). It’s really just a drop in yardage, as the other differences are negligible, but it is a significant change in value. Consider him much more a high-level WR2 with WR1 upside as opposed to a potential WR1.

What are your thoughts of Cruz?  Do you think he could live up to the WR1 hype or is he more of a WR2?

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