The Primary Contenders
Adrien Robinson, Larry Donnell, Xavier Grimble, Daniel Fells, Kellen Davis
Last week, Adrien Robinson, one of the Giants’ tight end candidates, spoke about the differences for the position in Ben McAdoo’s offense as opposed to the role of the tight end under former offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.
“It’s completely different,” Robinson told reporters, per Giants.com. “We move around a lot more in the backfield, (run) different routes. I feel like it’s more fitted for the things that I’m good at.”
It will be a golden opportunity for the Giants’ 2012 fourth-round draft pick, whom general manager Jerry Reese famously dubbed the “JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) of tight ends,” to show he has what it takes to be successful in this league.
Meanwhile, he'll face some competition for the starting job.
Kellen Davis, a seven-year veteran who has missed just one game in his NFL career, was a two-year starter for the Chicago Bears. He has 50 career receptions for 561 yards and 12 touchdowns but is probably better known for his blocking, where last year, he finished with a minus-5.3 in 2013 run-blocking grade for the Seahawks, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Another wild card in this equation could end up being Larry Donnell, who played in 107 snaps for the Giants last year, per PFF, mostly as an H-back and in some formations as a fullback.
Although he wasn’t used much in the passing game—he was thrown to just six times last season—he appears to have the skill set that McAdoo is believed to be looking for at the tight end position, which includes the ability to line up at fullback in certain packages, line up in the slot and go in motion before the snap.
Another competitor to keep an eye on is rookie Xavier Grimble, who signed as an undrafted free agent out of USC. NFLDraftScout.com (via CBSSports.com) compared him to Davis, and Grimble played three years for the Trojans, ending up with somewhat underwhelming numbers of 69 receptions for 731 yards (10.59 average) and 11 touchdowns.
Still, he could be an intriguing option to keep around on the practice squad if there's no room for him on the roster, given his physical tools.
Unlike last year, when the Giants went with four tight ends, I think this year they will only go with three. Based on the personnel currently on the roster, those three will probably be Robinson, Donnell and Davis.
However, it would not be surprising if one of those three gets swapped out for a guy who is not yet on the roster.
Current Packers unrestricted free agent Jermichael Finley, whose connection with McAdoo—the Packers' former tight ends coach—is one player who has seemed to make sense for the Giants since free agency started.
However, Finley, who underwent a neck operation last October, hasn't yet received medical clearance to resume his career.
That could be coming any day now.
Per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, he will undergo evaluation by the Packers doctors on Friday to see where he stands.
Depending on the outcome of that evaluation, he will either re-sign with the Packers, search for a new team or remain in a holding pattern.
If he remains in a holding pattern or goes back to the Packers, keep an eye on the Arizona Cardinals situation this summer.
According to the depth chart as posted by Ourlads, the Cardinals have six tight ends—John Carlson, former Giant Jake Ballard, rookie Troy Niklas, Rob Housler, Darren Fells and Andre Hardy—on their roster.
Presumably, the Cardinals will be keeping Niklas, whom they just drafted this year. They’ll also probably keep two out of Carlson, Ballard and Housler.
Might the one that they don’t end up keeping find his way to the Giants?
Like I said, keep an eye on that situation, especially if none of the current Giants tight ends on the roster impress this summer.