NY Giants Tight End Adrien Robinson Is Slowly Emerging from the Shadows

Patricia Traina@Patricia_TrainaFeatured Columnist IVDecember 14, 2014

This is a 2014 photo of Adrien Robinson of the New York Giants NFL football team. This image reflects the New York Giants active roster as of Monday, June 23, 2014 when this image was taken. (AP Photo)
Uncredited/Associated Press

New York Giants tight end Adrien Robinson came into the NFL as a fourth-round draft pick in 2012 with so many expectations.

However, it was an innocuous comparison to a teammate made by general manager Jerry Reese after Robinson was plucked by the team out of Cincinnati that really set the bar high for a rookie who recorded 12 receptions for 183 yards and three touchdowns in his final year of college ball.

"We really think this guy has a huge upside," Reese told reporters after the Giants concluded that year’s draft.

“He is a big, big man [with] long arms. He didn't catch a lot of balls for them. But he is kind of a late bloomer who has really come on. And we think this guy is kind of a JPP [Jason Pierre-Paul] of tight ends.”

And thus, a legend was born.

There was only one problem. The “JPP of tight ends” hasn’t been on the field nearly as much as the JPP of defensive ends has. 

Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

That could be changing, though, as the Giants play out the string of these final three games with an eye on the future.

No, Robinson hasn’t torn it up in the passing game, though he did get his first NFL receptions—he currently has five for 50 yards—this season.

Where Robinson has been quietly carving out a niche for himself is as a blocking tight end—an area that has lacked consistency and affected the running game.

Per Pro Football Focus (subscription required), starter Larry Donnell came into Week 15’s game against Washington with a minus-9.4 run-blocking grade, which was the worst of the three tight ends.

Veteran Daniel Fells’ 3.5 run-blocking grade is head-and-shoulders above Donnell’s and Robinson’s (0.2); however, since Week 13, Robinson’s grade has been rising (0.8), while Fells’ has been falling (1.0).

With another solid run-blocking tight end in the mix, the Giants have run for 100-plus yards as a team in Weeks 13-14 after failing to do so in four prior games.

“We’d like to get more experience, more exposure for Adrien,” head coach Tom Coughlin said. “It doesn’t always avail itself. He has done a better job on special teams. He blocked well the other day [against the Titans]. We’d like to try to do that, [but] it’s not easy.”

Getting Robinson additional snaps is probably a lot easier than having to walk around with the “JPP of tight ends” moniker on his shoulders while waiting for an opportunity to justify the comparison—which, by the way, was originally made to compare Robinson’s physical build to that of the real Pierre-Paul.

“I don’t think about it at all,” Robinson said. “I feel like people made a way bigger deal out of it than it was.”

He paused and then added, “I didn’t ask for [the nickname].”  

Mel Evans/Associated Press

What Robinson has been thinking about these days is how he can take advantage of the opportunities that might be coming his way as the season winds down.

He shrugged his shoulders when asked why his opportunities have not come more often, instead insisting that the only thing he can control is how he performs in practice.

Robinson has also been growing in the classroom in the mental part of the game—where it all starts. There, he says, first-year tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride is consistently reinforcing the concepts of a play to all of his tight ends, much like a parent who reminds a child to brush his or her teeth after a meal. 

While Robinson would like to be doing more for his team, he has been honest regarding his snail-like progress. 

“I don’t know that this is the way I anticipated,” he said of his NFL career, “but I do feel like my development is going pretty well.

“If given the opportunity, I’d want to show that I’m a hard worker,” he added. “Hopefully I’ll get an opportunity, if everything goes well, to show that I could have been making plays or doing well the whole season. I just have to be ready whenever my number is called.”


Patricia Traina covers the Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All quotes and information obtained firsthand unless otherwise sourced. Follow me on Twitter @Patricia_Traina.