NY Giants' Jake Ballard to Start 2012 Season on IR: May Never Recover

Colin Hughes@@colinhughesLAContributor IIFebruary 10, 2012

Coby Fleener could be the 32nd pick in the NFL draft.
Coby Fleener could be the 32nd pick in the NFL draft.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Jake Ballard will recover just fine from his knee injury, but he will never return to the starting lineup, a spot that was tenuously awarded to him at the start of the 2011 season. While he showed some production (38 receptions), he is too slow to be a major threat in the league.

If Mario Manningham uses his Super Bowl performance for a big contract with a new team, the Giants will need to make up for his production. There will be as many passes thrown towards the TE as when Jeremy Shockey was wearing Victor Cruz's number.

Jerry Reese had high praise for 2011 practice-squad player Christian Hopkins, but also praised Bear Pascoe in the same couple of sentences. Pascoe, while a very versatile and solid Giant, is in no danger of being a game-changer at any position he plays.

If the Giants cannot sign Jermichael Finley or Fred Davis in free agency, they will turn towards the draft. They may put in offers, and there is an outside chance of being awarded Davis, but it's not likely that the Giants would be willing to put up the money needed for either TE. 

It should be noted that if Fred Davis ever has the opportunity to play with a QB of Eli Manning's caliber, he will become one of the top three or four TEs in the league. 

However, if the Giants do not obtain a temporary starter through free agency, they will use one of their first two picks on the position. That is, not only to address the starter issue on a short-term basis, but to upgrade the position permanently. If Coby Fleener from Stanford is still on the board at the end of Round 1, Reese will snatch him up.

Sorry, Giants fans. Dwayne Allen will probably be long gone.

Fleener is not a point-of-attack animal when it comes to blocking, but Hopkins (at 275 lbs) can be. The Giants will be able to use the two in tandem. Furthermore, when Ballard comes back, he may be reduced to a goal line TE with Travis Beckum's increased role late in the season.

Beckum, who will also start on PUP, will see time in the backfield. With Fleener out there, the Giants will have a smaller, less flashy version of what the Patriots have at TE.