Look in the stands at a New York Giants game over the past few years and it has been filled mostly with Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. jerseys, No. 10 and No. 13, with just a splattering of other mostly throwback options. Now the fans seem to have some other promising current choices.
Get used to these two faces and numbers: Landon Collins (21) and Sterling Shepard (87). Two of the youngest players on the Giants' roster were named to the NFL Players Association 2017 Rising 50 list. Shepard came in 28th and Collins was 35th.
An explanation of the 2017 Rising 50 according to the NFLPA:
“The ranking was developed by evaluating on-field performances during the 2016 season, fantasy football popularity, early demand from NFLPA sponsors and licensees, as well as new faces in strong markets. To be considered for inclusion, players must not have appeared in any previous quarterly or year-end list of the NFLPA Top 50 Player Sales.”
When it comes to marketing, offense sells. That is why Shepard is ahead of Collins, who is the better player at this point of his career after being named an All-Pro this past season. But it's not necessarily about overall production. It's also about whose face is recognizable, whose name is notable, whose jersey sells and who scores touchdowns.
Shepard had 65 receptions for 683 yards and eight touchdowns his rookie year.
Nine of the top 10 players in this year’s "Rising 50" are from the offensive side of the ball. The only outlier is No. 1 overall draft pick Myles Garrett.
Even though the Giants’ top pick in this year’s draft, Evan Engram, didn’t register, it finally appears they have some marketable youngsters. Collins is 23 years old; Shepard is 24.
Beckham is also just 24 years old.
So maybe the Giants finally have something here. They have a strong young core to build around and market. It should make it easier to sell merchandise and the future of the organization to fans. It could also lead to more success on the field.
The Giants have high expectations after an 11-5 campaign and a playoff berth last season. It's largely based off their young core and the strong free-agent haul from the previous year.