The Giants have a history of having those special tightends that make tough catches at crucial times during games. Do you remember players like Bob Tucker? Was that before your time? He was the First good Giants TE, after that everybody remembers Mark Bavaro, Howard Cross, Jeremy Shockey and most recently Kevin Boss and Jake Ballard. Who will step into that arena for the Giants this season and claim the honor. They are going to have to be tough, that’s what the Giants expect, blocking hard and making those catches at the most important time during a game with three or more defenders hanging on to you as you drag them for a first down. Is that player on the roster right now? The closest player there is has the best name for it, Bear.
The Giants do not use their tightends as a primary part of their pass catching corps yet expect them to perform as one when needed. The emphasis as we know is on blocking, to understand why is to understand their schemes. The Giants use a Zone blocking scheme and use their tightends as an integral part of that. It looks like the Giants are going more to zone schemes than ever before, in the past they mixed it up a bit, I will get to that when I review the offensive lineman. If the Giants meant to use their TEs in any other way they would have drafted the very talented Coby Fleener a pass catching oriented TE. Instead they signed the much bigger Bennett from the Cowboys, who is about the size of an offensive tackle and out weights Fleener by 40 pounds.
Reese has been looking for soft handed tightends that can block first and foremost, that’s why he drafted Robinson in 4th round of the 2012 draft. He could have used an early pick for one of the sure handed catch first tightends but they had questionable blocking ability. Reese went with a project he called the JPP of TEs because of his raw talent and blocking ability. Bottom line is the Giants need their TEs to block for their offense to be successful, catching the ball is not a priority yet the potential needs to be there to catch the ball. The only drafted TE which diverted from this was Travis Beckum who was supposed to be used as an H-back and not a traditional TE. I suspect the constant injuries to Beckum dictated this H-back package was never able to be incorporated into the Giants offense as originally envisioned by Reese, although maybe not Gilbride.
Ballard was let go on waivers and picked up by the Patriots as we all know. This surprised the Giants and does not make much sense. His knee injury was worse than thought and Ballard will take at least a year to heal. The rehab and the mental aspect of getting over this type of injury will add time to this. By the time he is ready to play his contract will have ended. Just why did Bill Belichick pick Ballard off waivers? I think because he’s a vindictive petty person, that’s why. If the Giants really want to resign him he will be available, once they see he is not coming back soon enough the Pats will probably let him go. I hope by than we have better options at TE. He did block well and catch the ball when he was asked to. I liked him at Ohio State and thought he was underutilized. Honestly he was open mostly because the defense did not pay much attention to him. You can see how slow footed he really was while running his routs, many times there was nobody covering him. He did make plays though and was an overachieving fan favorite, a typical Giants working class hero like Bear Pascoe. He was consistently good, never great and understood the offense, he his job well. Jake will be missed by the fans and the Giants as a team.
So here goes:
Travis Beckum- 6’3” 234 4 year vet. I’m sure he’s heavier than 234 now, more like about 245, he has put on some good solid muscle not bulk by hitting the weight room. He did not have the functional strength to take on defenders as a blocker. I think this was a draft pick by Reese to try and make Gilbride open his offensive up and go away from the pure power run game. The NFL offenses are evolving because of the rule changes, it is to a team’s advantage to have a pass first offense now. The talent level was there as a receiver, it was never envisioned for Beckum to be a traditional TE, he was supposed to be an H-back with a package developed for him. No matter what position he needed to learn to block especially as an H-back, the H-back has different blocking assignments though and does not take on many defensive lineman one on one, the Giants TEs do. As I mentioned before because of injuries this never materialized and he had to be used as a traditional TE when he did get snaps. Hopefully he’ll be healthy and able to be a second TE in dual TE formations to cause the mismatches he does on pass plays. He is effective as a receiver when used that way. It’s always been about his health, now he’s getting over a knee injury suffered in of all games the Super bowl. If he is ready to play he will be a great addition to the receiver/TE corps, he does help open the field up. It’s all about staying healthy although if some of these players develop his time as a Giants might be coming to an end.
Martellus Bennett- 6’6” 270(290) 5 year vet- Originally drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft. He started off poorly with the Giants coaching staff this off season as far as I read by being overweight and not in top shape. He missed time with hammy issues because of that according to reports. He disputes this though, maybe it’s just a head game the coaches are using to motive him, he does come off as a bit egotistical and maybe this is the coaching staff’s way of putting him in his place, who knows. At 290 pounds he said he’s bulked up, he is a huge man and can carry that weight, but can he be an effective TE at that weight, that is questionable. He did also mention he will work his weight down a bit and lean out, this is common for a lot of players who bulk up to gain strength in the off season, as long as his body FAT is low his weight should not a factor. I do remember Shockey saying the same thing and coming into camp looking HUGE, his biceps where gigantic, but he looked slow and sloppy on the field. His size and Bulk muscle made him inflexible possibly leading to some of his injuries. We’ll find out in camp and preseason whether it’s true and he is or is not in top shape. I’m sure he is penciled in as the starter, look out the Bear is right behind you Marty. Honestly Cowboy fans are happy to see him go, they did not like him, maybe sour grapes or they know something we don’t yet? I have seen buyer beware warnings from Dallas Cowboy fans. The Cowboys themselves did not seem interested in resigning him which is odd for a second round pick. Mike Pope has his work cut out for him.
Larry Donnell- 6’6” 269 1yr- Another huge TE brought in to compete, notice something here, the Giants are looking for big TEs that are pure block first players to help the run game yet have good hands and can develop as receivers, but it’s block first. He was a former QB and played TE at Grambling where he showed a lot of promise. He’s over 6’6”, if he can improve he might turn out to be an excellent TE or at least a good backup, the ability is there. Kind of slow footed with a 4.91 40 at his 2011 proday the same goes for the UDFA Ballard who worked hard and eventually excelled as we all know. The Giants have high hopes for him and signed him to a nice contract so Reese quietly has hopes of developing this player. I’ll be watching for him, I have a feeling he might be a gem that needs some polishing. He could turn out to be a great redzone target.
Christian Hopkins- 6’5” 275 1 yr vet- Proday was in 2008, he was close to 6’5”, 270 pounds and ran a very good for that size 4.78 40, however he only did 19 reps on the bench. The Giants staff has been working with this talented player who might be ready to see some playing time. Jerry Reese is also high on him, he’ll get his chance. He has good natural size and I hope he has hit the weight room to get stronger and learned proper blocking technique. From what I can see he can catch the ball, he did in college. He might be a bit of a sleeper. I don’t yet know what he did from 2008 to 2011 when the Giants signed him. We’ll find out soon if he can play. Update he was with the UFL Omaha team for that time or some of that time.
Bear Pascoe-6’5” 283 4 yr vet – He was drafted in the 6th round of the 2009 draft by the San Francisco 49ers and cut because he was too slow, the Giants picked him up and put him on their practice squad. On his proday he ran a pretty good 4.89 40 but only put up 14 reps on the bench, I’m sure he has gotten much stronger since then. Bear is a lunch pail type player, blue collar overachiever who gives 100%. Limited talent wise yes, but you need guys like this, they make up the core and heart of a winning team. He can play H-back/FB/TE and does it well enough to be in the NFL. He’s just not a starter, he’s an indispensable backup. If Bennett does not catch on fast enough Bear will be the starting TE by the beginning of the season. Eli likes him and he just does his job, a true Giants type player, someone else’s castoff that proves themselves with the Giants. He may be the starter for the whole season if he progresses enough and shows consistency which is a big issue with the Giants coaches. You don’t have to be great just be consistently good that’s what makes a solid NFL pro and the Giants have been successful with these type of players under Coach Coughlin. It’s amazing he was too slow for the Niners but fine with the super bowl winning Giants. I guess the saying “one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure” is so true.
Ryan Purvis – 6’4” 260 3 yr vet- He had a good career at Boston College until Matt Ryan left, the whole offense suffered as did Purvis. He was a UDFA signed by the Tampa Bay Bucs in 2009 and was a final cut in 2011, picked up by the Giants in 2012. During that time I have read he really worked hard to improve his game. Good size and known for his hands, he’s slow footed running a 4.95 40 at his 2009 proday and put up only 19 reps on the bench. So as a NFL player there was much room for improvement which according to the Bucs he did, so why cut him? The talent is there as he beat out a few TEs the Giants brought in to compete for a spot at that time. He has his work cut out for him to make the roster and see any playing time.
Adrien Robinson – 6’4” 264 rookie – You can see the great athletic ability of this young player. He’s very raw technically and in terms of the way he looks on a football field. It will take a lot of reps to get him to be a consistent player. No question the talent is there as is the desire, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when, it might take a few seasons. Although there is always the chance he will not develop into the player the Giants and Jerry Reese originally hoped he can, that happens to the best of prospects. He missed some time at OTAs to graduate college, that set him back a little. No big deal I don’t think he will get much playing time other than special teams. It’s Bennett and Bear penciled in for the starting roster with this kid taking that third spot. I wonder how many tightends the Giants will carry on the roster when and if Beckum gets healthy.
It looks like the Giants are hoping worst case scenario at least they have some tightends that can block to help the running game which was terrible during the 2011 season. The wide receivers and running backs will take up the slack in the passing game. Some of the TEs are not that far away from being the size of offensive lineman so it will be like having 6 Olineman up front. It would be nice if at critical times they can at least pickup a first down by finding a seam and catching the ball. None of these players are something the defenses are going to worry about in pass coverage, they will be more concerned with the receivers and Hynoski who has proved to be a very good receiving FB. This could work out well by sliding the TE into a pass pattern for those critical times when a defense is shutting down your offense and you need a first down to keep a drive going. It will be interesting to watch this group compete for roster positions this pre-season.