This is another position that can go in so many directions and one where I'm just not sure who the starter is as of right now.
The Giants have a pair of young players on the roster: Adrien Robinson, a fourth-round draft pick from 2012, and Larry Donnell, an undrafted free agent who is also going into his third season.
Robinson has yet to make any significant on-field contributions two reasons. First, he was delayed in coming into the spring 2012 OTAs because his college classes finished late. Unfortunately, he was never able to catch up after missing so much practice and classroom time and thus was rarely able to get on the field as a rookie.
In 2013, Robinson again had a setback, this time of a physical nature after he suffered a foot injury in the preseason finale. When he finally overcame that ailment, he went on to suffer a season-ending knee injury.
Suffice it to say, this summer is going to be huge for the player once dubbed “the JPP of tight ends” because of his size and physical attributes. Can he stay on the field? Can he learn the new playbook at a reasonable time? Only time will tell, but these are two aspects he has so far failed to accomplish in his short pro career.
Donnell is an interesting prospect. Under former offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, Donnell was training to be an H-back/backup fullback. Unfortunately, when it came to contributing in the passing game, he was far too inconsistent in his route-running and fast became a non-factor on the team.
Still, Donnell has some good tools with which to work and appears to have the desire to get it done. He could be someone who ends up surprising this summer, though it’s still too soon to say.
Kellen Davis was added in the offseason and his signing is interesting. Davis is reputed to be a pure blocking tight end which could be an indication of how the Giants are viewing this position in the 2014 draft.
Ideally, a team would like to get a guy who can block and be a receiving threat, but those two-way talents are fast going the way of the dinosaur.
If the plan, then is to have Davis be the in-line blocker, might any tight end the Giants have their eye on in this draft be more of a receiving type (e.g., Eric Ebron of North Carolina)? I also mentioned in the fullback slide that I wouldn't be shocked if the Giants abandon the fullback position and instead look to line up an H-back in the backfield.
That's where a player such as Troy Niklas of Notre Dame might be of interest—Niklas can play that H-back role, thus giving the Giants more flexibility at the position if they choose to go in that direction.
The other thing to keep in mind is that if the Giants are looking to keep four tight ends again—that would be surprising, but it's a possibility that can't be ruled out—the extra roster spot could come at the expense of the fullback.