The Giants were one of the most aggressive teams this past offseason adding a whole host of players to improve the offense, defense and special teams. One could say they attacked essentially every need on the team one way or another, with one notable exception. The Giants did little to upgrade the tight end position, with the camp battle amongst a number of unproven incumbents and free agent NFL journeymen an area of great focus thus far. Adrien Robinson, a fourth round draft pick out of Cincinnati in 2012 with no catches to his name at the NFL level has been talked up as the favorite before camp as a potential breakout candidate, but the Giants shocked everybody by naming Robinson fifth on the team’s first depth chart and second year undrafted free agent Larry Donnell as the first tight end, a depth chart that will no doubt be fluid over the coming weeks.
Tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride took some time to discuss the tight end situation at camp, and talked at length about the completion. He made it clear what he was looking for in the battle – he’s waiting for the tight end that can step up and do it all.
“I would put it as ‘jack-of-all-trades’, noted Gilbride. “ With what we just talked about, with having them be in the backfield and playing a lot of that fullback role, splitting them out as the number one receiver, the number two, also an in-line tight end as far as the blocking and the pass receiving. It’s a jack-of-all-trades and they have to master them all. So it’s an exciting, fun position within this offense, but we need to continue to develop in order to be ready to help our football team win games. That’s the most important thing.”
As the tight end battle continues, all eyes will be on the young, unproven talents of Adrien Robinson and Larry Donnell. While the listing of Robinson as fifth on the depth chart is likely just to send a message to the player, it is still a disappointing early indication of Robinson’s progress level.
Coach Gilbride said there has been “good and bad… flashes of great things… but he needs to continue to develop in order to help us.” On Donnell, coach Gilbride acknowledged that it was a definite help that Donnell got experience in multiple roles last season, but that Donnell “is still a very young player in that regard as well.”
There should no doubt be some sort of role for Donnell in this offense, but the challenge has been issued to Robinson and with the team’s first preseason game this Sunday there will be a lot of focus on how he responds to it.