Lightning usually doesn’t strike in the same place twice, but don’t tell that to Giants GM Jerry Reese. In the past the team has found success at tight end, despite not having a proven starting caliber player on their roster.
In 2007 the Giants utilized Kevin Boss, a former fifth rounder from Western Oregon, to replace an injured Jeremy Shockey and win Super Bowl XLII. They used the same formula when they won Super Bowl XLVI when Jake Ballard was named the starter for the 2011 season. After neglecting to bring in a tight end through the 2014 NFL Draft or free agency, is Jerry Reese hoping lightning strikes a third time?
Currently the Giants have four players at the position on their roster. Kellen Davis, Daniel Fells, Adrien Robinson, and Larry Donnell will all compete for the right to be the starter. The edge, seemingly, goes to Davis. In his six NFL seasons, he has caught 50 passes for 12 touchdowns. However last year, he fell out of favor in Seattle and only started four games and caught just three passes. Davis is known more for his blocking than his pass-catching ability. With new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s scheme expected to feature a pass-catching tight end it is unknown how the Giants plan to use him.
Daniel Fells spent the 2013 season out of the league. Despite signing a three year deal in 2012, he was cut by the Patriots just before the start of last season. During his six years of NFL service, he has been a journeyman. In addition to New England, Fells has spent time in Atlanta, St. Louis and Denver. The only place where he spent extended time was St. Louis. There he caught 81 of his 92 career passes, and scored all of his eight career touchdowns. Fells’ inability to stay with teams is a red flag. Although Rob Gronkowski was hurt to start last season, the Patriots still decided to cut Fells, who was the most veteran tight end on their roster.
The Giants’ other options, Larry Donnell and Adrien Robinson, have extremely limited NFL experience. Of the two, Donnell is the only one to record a career reception. Robinson was famously dubbed, “the JPP of tight ends,” by Reese when he was drafted three years ago. However he has only appeared in three games for the Giants and the only comparison he has drawn to Jason Pierre-Paul is the amount of injuries he has compiled. By not drafting or signing a tight end some have assumed that the Giants are hoping Robinson can win the starting job this season.
One of team’s biggest problems from last year was not putting enough quality players around Eli Manning. The recent success of players like Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski and Julius Thomas at tight end has made it one of the more important positions on the field. The revolving door the Giants have had at that position makes it hard for Manning to develop a viable weapon. By deliberately not providing him with reliable pass catching option, it appears the front office is not learning from prior mistakes.