About five seconds after time expired in the New York Giants frustrating, almost confounding loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the divisional round of the 2008 playoffs, a consensus had formed among Giants' fans:
We gotta replace Plax.
Deprived of Burress's 6'5" frame, long arms, and deadly speed, a team that had looked pretty much unbeatable through the first two thirds of the regular season had been cut down to size. The Giants' vaunted running attack was slowed by the eight and nine man fronts it faced without Burress, and his absence significantly hurt the Giants' short-term chances to win another Super Bowl.
Fast forward to draft day, when most Giants fans expected Jerry Reese to swing a deal for Browns' receiver Braylon Edwards. There were rumors that the Browns' asking price was right, and despite reports that the team was smitten with UNC's Hakeem Nicks, most fans expected an announcement that would see the Giants' offense stretching the field again.
Instead, in the bottom of the third round, Reese seized an opportunity to tear the field open by selecting Wisconsin tight end Travis Beckum.
Before he broke his leg during his senior year, Beckum was rocketing up draft boards as a future H-back. Beckum's unique combination of speed, height, and athleticism created match-up nightmares for defensive coordinators, and at 6'4," 235 pounds, he will continue to do the same in the NFL.
Put him in the slot, and he'll out jump or out muscle any defensive back. Put him on the line of scrimmage, and linebackers won't be able to keep up with him. Teams won't be able to stuff the box when Beckum is on the field, and whether it's first and 10 or third and short, he'll give Giants' running backs the breathing room that helped them become the best rushing team in football last season.
Beckum's got a lot to learn about blocking, but tight ends coach Mike Pope will see that he gets it. Pope turned formerly one-dimensional tight ends Jeremy Shockey and Kevin Boss into exceptional blockers, and Beckum can only get better; a top 100 recruit coming out of high school, and Beckum originally came to Wisconsin to play linebacker.
Plenty of Giants' fans are still fretting about their team's lack of a big-time threat at receiver. But once they see Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Danny Ware plowing through opposing defenses again, they'll forget all about how they thought Plaxico Burress had shot their team's title hopes.