The New York Giants will receive an infusion of young talent at the 2013 NFL draft (April 25-27), but the team already has a few young studs on the roster. These five under-25 players currently represent the future of Giants football and will play key roles in getting the team back to the playoffs next season.
Jacquian Williams (LB) -- Williams had a terrific rookie season in 2011 with 78 tackles, but the 24-year-old linebacker made only 30 stops this past season (he missed six games due to injuries). However, the sixth-round pick out of South Florida has the speed and ability to return to form in 2013. Furthermore, the recent release of Michael Boley has put Williams in line for a starting job next season.
Linval Joseph (DT) -- Joseph, 24, is one of the most underrated players on the Giants. He's often overshadowed by pass-rushers Jason-Pierre Paul and Osi Umenyiora, but the massive defensive tackle is a key piece of the defensive line. With the release of Chris Canty, look for Joseph (career-high 59 tackles and four sacks in 2012) to play a bigger role in stuffing the run next season.
Prince Amukamara (CB) -- Granted, Amukamara's potential outweighs his performance to date, but the 23-year-old corner back has shown steady improvement since being drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft. Amukamara, who has missed a total of 12 games in his first two pro seasons, must avoid the injury bug to reach his full potential. He has the tools to make a difference.
David Wilson (RB) - With the release of Ahmad Bradshaw, the 21-year-old Wilson is poised for a breakout season in 2013. Last year's first-round draft pick rushed for only 358 yards and four touchdowns, but he averaged 5.0 yards per carry and collected a team-record 1,533 yards returning kicks in 2012. Given enough carries, the shifty Wilson will make an impact next season.
Jason Pierre-Paul (DE) -- I recently listed the 24-year-old Pierre-Paul as one of Big Blue's most significant draft picks of the last 10 years. It was an easy choice. In his first three pro seasons, the freakishly athletic defensive end has 27.5 sacks and 182 total tackles. He has become the lynchpin of the Giants' defense and a player the organization can build around for the foreseeable future.
Do you have confidence in the Giants' young players? Can they start carrying the load as soon as next season? Let me know in the comments section below!
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer with more than 15 years of experience covering amateur and professional sports for several print and online media outlets. He tracked the New York Giants for Yahoo! Contributor Network during the team's Super Bowl run in 2011-12. Adam can be found on Twitter @Pegcitysports.