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'Prospecting:' Do the Giants need a tight end?

We have gone on ad nauseum this off-season about the need for our New York Giants to upgrade the wide receiver position.

But, do the Giants also need an upgrade at tight end? There seems to be a school of thought at many of the reputable NFL Draft sites, including ESPN, that the answer is yes.

Here is how Mocking the Draft, SBN's own excellent draft site, framed the discussion.

The more I look at the Giants, the more I think the WR and TE positions need the most work via the draft. An excellent round two prospect (or maybe even round one) is Missouri TE Chase Coffman. Not a sexy pick, but he is the kind of guy that can give Eli Manning that which he needs: A security receiver. If Brandon Pettigrew falls to NY in the first round, they would be wise to take him. As Mocking Dan decrees:

Pettigrew is an NFL-ready tight end with good athleticism and a frame well-suited for the pros. Good enough athleticism to be a serious threat in the passing game. Has solid hands but tends to catch with his body from time to time. Size causes mismatches for defenders. He’s too fast for most linebackers and too big for safeties.

This kind of player would help the Giants create mismatches when teams play zone, and if they drop a safety down on someone like Pettigrew, it will open up WR opportunities downfield. In general, rookie TEs will offer more of an immediate impact than a rookie WR, and since the Giants are built to win now, a TE is a better option.

I am not convinced that tight end is a true 'need' position for the Giants. Kevin Boss showed terific improvement during 2008, his first season as a starter. He caught 33 passes, six for touchdowns and showed that he could be a tremendous weapon in the Red/Green Zone. He is going to continue to get better and better.

That said, the guys behind Boss -- Darcy Johnson, Michael Matthews and the newly-signed Lee Vickers are hardly exciting. I would be surprised to see the Giants go tight end in the first round. After that, though, all bets are off. The Giants have lots of picks and they will be looking for playmakers on offense. If the best one on the board when the Giants select happens to be a tight end, so be it.

Let's look at some of the possibilities.

Brandon Pettigrew, Oklahoma State

From NFL Draft Countdown.

Earns high marks as both a pass catcher and blocker...Was not a featured weapon in the Cowboys passing attack and has more potential as a receiver than he was given an opportunity to showcase in college...Can be an extension of the offensive line and almost serve as an extra offensive tackle...May not be a dynamic downfield threat in the passing game like Kellen Winslow or Vernon Davis but is a much better blocker...Not real flashy and won't run a 4.4 but is one of the best all-around tight end prospects to come along in quite some time.

I don't see Pettigrew as a likely Giant. GM Jerry Reese would have to trade up to get him, and if he does trade up -- which is very possible with the extra picks the Giants will have -- I think he is more likely to go after a big-time wide receiver or a stud offensive tackle.

Chase Coffman, Missouri

From Football's Future.

Coffman is a very difficult match up for opposing teams. He has a long, lean frame and knows how to get open. He can find the soft spot in a zone and set up for his QB or go up in one on one situations and pull down the ball over the defender. Coffman is a solid athlete with very good body control. He can make the difficult grab look easy, and he hauls in all the easy passes as well. He is a guy who should come in and be a very good receiving option right away. Coffman shows some potential as a blocker, displaying the effort to put his body on a man and help the play unfold. ... Coffman is a quality tight end that should have a solid NFL career. If he can bulk up and show some improved strength he has the talent to be a starter.

This Week's Mock Drafts

  • National Football Post: Round 1 (29th), Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina; Round 2, 45th, Jared Cook, TE, South Carolina; Round 2 (60th), Chip Vaughn, SS, Wake Forest.
  • NFL Draft Countdown: Round 1, Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina; Round 2, Max Unger, OL, Oregon;
  • Football's Future: Round 1, Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina.
  • Draft Tek: Round 1, Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Maryland; Round 2, Patrick Chung, SS, Oregon; Round 2, Marcus Freeman, OLB, Ohio State.
  • Walter Football: Round 1, Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia; Round 2, Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers; Round 2, Tyrone McKenzie, OLB, South Florida.
  • Mocking The Draft: Round 1, Hakeem Nicks, WR, North Carolina; Round 2, Louis Delmas, FS, Western Michigan; Round 2, Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut.
  • ESPN: (Mel Kiper), Round 1, Kenny Britt, WR, Rutgers; (Todd McShay), Round 1, James Laurinaitis, LB, Ohio State.