This is the first in a series analyzing the state of each position for the New York Giants.
Coming into this past championship season, the Giants’ Front Office faced heavy criticism for not addressing the tight end position and letting their premier tight end, Kevin Boss, who is now with the Oakland Raiders, walk. However, the Giants knew what their game plan was for the tight end position and recognized the talent they had in Jake Ballard, who replaced Kevin Boss quite effectively. However, the Giants lost their top two receiving tight ends in Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum to ACL tears in the Super Bowl. ACL tears can take up to nine months to recover from, and possibly even longer with heavier players like tight ends.
Who the Giants Have:
Travis Beckum- He suffered an ACL tear in the Super Bowl and will likely miss most of the season. Even so, Beckum has not displayed the ability to take over the tight end position. He is not the most reliable target and is nearly useless when called to block. He is no more than a backup tight end. He was thought to be the starter coming into the season, but ended with 93 yards on 5 catches and a touchdown, down from 116 yards off 13 receptions and 2 touchdowns in 2010. Not the direction you would want a player to go in.
Christian Hopkins- Not much is known about the practice squad tight end from Toledo University, but the Giants have expressed confidence in him to step in for Ballard. He could possibly become a Ballard 2.0 and climb up the depth chart and possibly get looks at the starting job. His performance can heavily affect how the Giants approach the draft and free agency.
Free Agents on the Giants:
Jake Ballard- The breakout tight end on the Giants this past season. It is very unfortunate he ended a solid season (38 receptions for 604 yards and 4 touchdowns) with an ACL tear. Ballard was also bothered by a PCL injury late in the season. He is an Exlusive Rights free agent that will most likely return. He can win the starting job back if he can return before the end of the season or can come back if the Giants make the playoffs. His versatility as a blocker and a pass catcher earned him the starting job. While he has had some huge games, his only problem is his dropped passes, but that be worked on and it is not a major issue.
Bear Pascoe- Pascoe is a restricted free agent but will most likely return with the injuries the Giants have. Pascoe is primarily a blocking tight end, and a very talented one as well. Pascoe can play fullback as well. The Giants value blocking as much as, if not more, than receiving skills, which is why they will bring him back. He did prove to be a decent receiver, racking up 5 receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown in the final two games of the postseason. He is not very quick but he is reliable on short pickups.
Notable Free Agents:
There are many huge names in free agency such as Fred Davis and Jermichael Finley, but they are either too expensive for the Giants’ tight salary cap or most likely returning to their respective teams. There are a few that the Giants may consider, however.
Jeremy Shockey- He has been linked to a return to New York. He had a decent season with four touchdown catches as the #2 TE alongside Greg Olsen. However, his injury history is not ideal for the Giants’ current situation.
Visanthe Shiancoe - Speaking of former Giants tight ends, Shiancoe is on the free agent market. While he did not have a stellar season, he did face QB problems with the Vikings. He is an undervalued tight end that could fit the bill in New York.
Jacob Tamme- It seems as if he fell off the map with the return of Dallas Clark this season. However, it has just been a year when he emerged with Peyton Manning and caught 67 passes in 2010. He is not big for a tight end (236 pounds) but his agility makes him ideal from a receiving standpoint.
Dwayne Allen- He is the top tight end in the upcoming draft from Clemson. He is a versatile player who can block and run routes very well. He could possibly be available when the Giants pick 32. Dwayne Allen Analysis
Coby Fleener- Andrew Luck’s go to tight end is also entering the draft. He is projected to go into the 2nd round and has high upside. He is also a versatile player like Dwayne Allen, as can be seen with his 10 touchdown receptions. Fleener is also intimidating, standing at 6’6″, which can make him an effective red zone target. Coby Fleener Highlights
I believe the Giants will stand strong like they did last season and utilize the players on the roster. They have faith in Christian Hopkins and he can easily see playing time from Week 1. But with the emergence of the tight end in recent years, such as Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski, the Giants may draft a prospect in within their first few picks in the draft. As for Pascoe and Ballard, I would expect the Giants to bring them back next season.
The speculation of Mario Manningham makes things interesting. While they might find someone to replace him in free agency (I will discuss this in a future article), there is a possibility that New York uses a double tight end set more often this season, like the Patriots and Panthers did in 2011. The double tight end set creates mismatches in the passing game, because athletic tight ends are too quick for linebackers to cover but to big for defensive backs to cover. It also keeps defenses guessing because if a double tight end set is used in the passing game, it makes it less predictable for when the offense decides to run the ball.
If the Giants strike gold at the tight end position next season, the Giants can become more dangerous than they were this past season on offense.
About the Author
Written by A.M. Ghesani