If the Giants’ offense comes anywhere close to resembling that run by head coach Brin Daboll when he was with the Buffalo Bills, the tight end spot will not be a featured part of the offense.
But that doesn’t mean it will be any less important.
To recap, Daboll, as Bills offensive coordinator, favored 11-personnel on 71 percent of the regular-season offensive snaps last season.
The Bills tight ends, Dawson Knox and Tommy Sweeney, combined for 65 receptions (out of 92 pass targets) for 729 yards and 11 touchdowns, with most of that production coming against man coverage.
To put those numbers into perspective, quarterback Josh Allen finished 409 of 646 for 4,407 and 36 touchdowns, the tight ends being targeted just 14 percent of the time and accounting for 16.5 percent of the passing yardage.
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All that being said, the tight ends do figure to play a key supporting role for the Giants offense this year. Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka have apparently decided (for now) to eschew having a fullback on the roster and will instead look to deploy one of the tight ends as an H-back, which will give them some more flexibility in the passing game.
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There’s another benefit to be had from the position, and that is if the Giants have themselves a decent blocker–and they think they do in veteran Ricky Seals-Jones–that can help the revamped offensive line in the run blocking game.
But the Giants, who recently added Jordan Akins, more of a pass receiver than a blocker, to the mix, will need more at this position since both Akins and Seals-Jones are only signed to one-year deals.
Our best guess is the Giants will look to add a tight end no later than early Day 3 of this week’s draft, so again, with the help of Inside Football’s draft preview issue, let’s take a look at some potential names to watch.
Charlie Kolar (Iowa State)
Great height (6’6”and 260 pounds) and hands, but needs to get stronger. Not physical, except when going up for ball against contact. Might have best hands in this class. Much more receiver than blocker. Not dynamic, fast or quick. Knows how to create space with positioning. Zone killer. Red zone weapon. Catches low balls too. Doesn’t bend knees when blocking. Does everything “tall.” Pack on some mass to narrow upper body and you’ve really got something. Smart and reliable.
Cade Otton (Washington)
The best in-line blocker of this group, Otton uses his length and long arms (6’5”and 250 pounds) to maintain contact. Tough and physical at the point, Otton also brings balance and attitude to finish. As a receiver, not a great route runner. Straight line mover. Excellent hands catcher. Has just enough speed and agility to hurt defenses. Runs short and intermediate routes impeccably. Absorbs contact easily. Smart and reliable. Not explosive. Full-time size and skills.
Jake Ferguson (Wisconsin)
Traditional TE size (6’5”and 250 pounds) but is not a great blocker. Gives effort, but doesn’t sustain. Needs to add to narrow upper body. Long frame with mobility and agility in space. Good athlete. Can bend and maneuver. Good route runner. Knows how to use frame to create space. Physical at the catch point. Good balance. Great hands. Should be a better pro. Day 3.
Daniel Bellinger (San Diego State)
One of this class’s best in-line blockers. Will have to prove athleticism at next level. Average speed but has enough agility to adjust on move. Has some nasty in his game. Very good hands, can adjust to the ball. Needs work squaring off routes. Seems to have the feet and balance to do it. Physical. Absorbs contact and sustains. Stands 6’4” and 255 pounds. Tough. Competes.
Gerrit Prince (UAB)
Prince is a former receiver whose 6’5, 240-pound frame can really move in the open field. Very agile, can pull away from defenders. Can maneuver with the ball. Can get vertical. Runs efficient short routes. Good hands. Lacks physicality and strength, though catches balls vs. contact. Needs to get thicker. More receiver than blocker. Lacks strength. Speed is legit.