Everyone in football is looking, searching for the next Victor Cruz, the next hidden gem.
Football Outsiders compiled a top-25 list of prospects who are 26 and under and might be on the cusp of a breakout. There are two second-year New York Giants who are part of this list. Offensive tackle James Brewer is ranked eighth and running back Da'Rel Scott made honorable mention.
Here's Football Outsiders' criteria for their list:
Our top prospects list isn't like the prospect lists you read about in the world of baseball. Because the top prospects in college football are stars on national television before they get taken in the first round of the NFL draft, there's not much utility in listing them here. Everyone knows Andrew Luck is a top prospect who is likely to succeed in the NFL.
Instead, we use a combination of statistics, measurables, context and expected role to compile a list of under-the-radar players whom we expect to make an impact in the NFL, both in 2012 and beyond.
We limit the pool to players who fit the following criteria:
• Drafted in the third round or later, or signed as an undrafted free agent
• Entered the NFL between 2009 and 2011
• Fewer than five career games started
• Still on their initial contract
• Age 26 or younger in 2012
Football Outsiders ranks Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin as their top prospect on this list. Here's their breakdown of Brewer:
8. James Brewer, OT, New York Giants
The Super Bowl champs were perfectly happy to let Kareem McKenzie leave in free agency this offseason because they're fairly confident that Brewer can take over the right tackle spot in his sophomore year. (If he fails in training camp, there is a backup plan: Kevin Boothe at left guard with David Diehl at right tackle.) Brewer has long arms and good balance with a strong lower base. Unfortunately, he also has a history of knee and ankle injuries, which helped knock him down to the fourth round of last year's draft.
My take: There is no doubt that the Giants' coaching staff wants to see Brewer take a step forward this season and show what he can do. But unless Brewer shines in training camp, Will Beatty is expected to start at left tackle and Diehl is slated to be the starter at right tackle. Beatty has been slowed by a bad back in OTAs and minicamp so Brewer may be needed to start if Beatty's back continues to be a problem this season. Brewer and Sean Locklear both took snaps at left tackle during OTAs and minicamp in place of the injured Beatty.