Next up in my series of position-by-position breakkdowns for the New York Giants is tight end. Since we did wide receiver first, that seems to make sense.
I think most of you guys know I am a huge supporter of starting tight end Kevin Boss. He isn't Tony Gonzalez, but he most certainly is a weapon for the Giants. And as his career unfolds he should be an even bigger one.
What is not to like about The Bossman? He is a huge target for Eli Manning at 6-foot-6, 253 pounds. He has excellent hands. He has incredible toughness, as we saw time and again during 2009. The guy can take a hit. He has good speed and athleticism for a tight end, and can make plays after he catches the ball. He can block, and he does so willingly. He never makes waves when the ball doesn't come his way, just does whatever the coaching staff asks him to do.
Boss is still just 26, and has now completed three years in the league. The last two, of course, as a starter. His numbers have increased each season -- 9 catches as a rookie, 33 in 2008 and 42 in 2009.
Many of us, myself included, are impatient to see Boss have a monster season of, say, 70+ catches. As frustrated as we get sometimes with the Giants' traditional view of the tight end position, and with Boss' seeming disappearance from the game plan on occasion, I think those days are coming.
Boss is continuing to get better, and it is entirely possible he will be a primary target for Eli for the duration of Eli's contract, which has six more seasons.
I went looking at the career arcs of many of the best tight ends currently in the league. The one to whom Boss might be best compared? Try Dallas Clark, who coincidentally catches passes from that other Manning in Indianapolis.
In Clark's first four seasons in Indianapolis, he caught 29, 25, 37 and 30 passes. His last three? Try 58 in 2007, 77 in 2009 and 100 this season. I don't know if Boss will ever reach those lofty numbers, but I continue to believe his numbers will get better as he improves, Eli learns more about him and the Giants find more ways to utilize him.
Now let's look at the rest of the Giants tight ends.
I did not really understand why the Giants kept Darcy Johnson instead of Michael Matthews at the beginning of the season. Today, I still don't understand it. Not that Matthews is anything special, but he is a blocking tight end -- which is what the Giants need with Boss and Travis Beckum on the roster. Blocking is not Johnson's strong suit, and I think pushing him into that role hurt the Giants' running game.
I would not mind seeing the Giants go to an additional lineman when they go to their 'heavy' package, something more and more NFL teams seem to be doing.
Beckum was looked at as an H-Back when the Giants drafted him, and he still is. He is not a good blocker, and the Giants seem to doubt he will ever be one. He caught just 8 balls as a rookie, and though he seems to have some skills I wonder if he will ever truly have a role in the offense. Who comes off the field to put Beckum in the slot? I really don't know.
Have to also mention Bear Pascoe, of course. Gotta love anybody named Bear. He will probably get a chance to make the team during training camp this summer.
Keep: Boss, Beckum, Pascoe
Draft/Free Agency Priority: 4-5
(E-mail Ed at email@example.com)