In one of the most defense-heavy fields in recent memory, the New York Giants might be smart to look at the option of choosing a tight end early on in this year's NFL Draft.
There are a lot of logical choices available that could significantly help New York patch up some of its biggest holes from it’s disappointing 2012.
At defensive end, a lot of players such as BYU’s Ezekiel Ansah could bolster up a scheme that was a shadow of it’s true potential often last season, while linebackers such as Georgia’s Alec Ogletree could make a quick, significant impact in the Giant’s scheme.
But with the NFL Draft still being some time away, it’s difficult to tell exactly who would realistically be available on defense (the aforementioned players could easily both be top-10 picks).
While I am a huge fan of what Martellus Bennett has done for the Giants in his short tenure with the team, the very real possibility remains that he could soon be signed with another team, not to mention that fellow Giants tight end Travis Beckum is also an unrestricted free agent.
New York needs at least to have a plan for if their top defensive choices—as well as some of their top defensive choices—are gone come their time to choose in Round 1.
The team’s best offensive options available are at the tight end position, and the two best tight ends available in the draft are Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert and Stanford’s Zach Ertz. As it’s been difficult even through the NFL Combine to tell which is more NFL ready, it could be a dream worst-case scenario for New York to have to choose between the two.
The draft stock on Ertz, to the surprise of many, improved from staying a year after Andrew Luck left Stanford for the NFL, as he proved to be the best offensive threat the Cardinal had in 2012. Although he and Eifert are both 6’5”, 250 pounds, Ertz looks to be built as a better blocker than Eifert at this point.
The main issue for Ertz is consistency, not aided by the fact that he missed a good chunk of games in his time at Stanford due to injury. At the combine and in his tenure at Stanford, he was also never able to prove anything truly impressive with his hands, dropping a good amount of passes both in and out of pressure.
To many, Eifert is the overall better tight end. If Bennett does not return to New York’s lineup next season, Eifert’s incredible production during his time in South Bend looks pretty easily translatable to a quick, productive impact against professional defenses.
Conversely to Ertz, Eifert had better hands than probably any other college tight end in the country last seasons. But also in contrast to Ertz, Eifert’s blocking will be his biggest issue moving forward as he just is not as well equipped to handle blocking on the professional level just yet.
While I would be happy with either Ertz or Eifert as New York’s first or later choice, it should be reiterated that this is still conditional. If Bennett, or Beckum for that matter, returns with the Giants for next season, then New York should continue with their focus upon linebackers or defensive end prospects.
But pending a contract dispute, mutual agreements to part ways and even the readiness of Adrien Robinson (New York’s fourth-round draft pick last year), a tight end could very easily be the best bet for the Giants come draft day.