The New York Giants currently have six tight ends on their 90-man training camp roster. Which of those six candidates will be part of the 53-man roster when the season opens? Let's take a look at the tight end situation as the Giants head into Saturday's preseason game vs. the Indianapolis Colts.
So, offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, have any of these guys gotten your attention thus far?
"I think Larry (Donnell) has had a nice camp so far. I think Daniel (Fells) had a good camp until he got nicked up," McAdoo said. "The other guys are making progress."
That would make Donnell, a young player who caught three passes last season, and Fells, out of the league in 2013, the front-runners to stick on the 53-man roster. Let's look at the entire group.
Don't anoint Donnell, a third-year player who was an undrafted free agent out of Grambling, as the starting tight end just yet. He is impressive in many ways and the clear first choice at this point. His performance his been inconsistent, with spectacular plays and quality blocks mixed in with missed opportunities and blown blocking assignments.
McAdoo's praise was lukewarm.
"I think Larry is a conscientious guy. He is a big body; he's capable of blocking sometimes better than he does on tape. He can go down the middle of the field and make a play on the ball. That needs to show up all the time," McAdoo said. "It is important to take care of your teammates on the field and that seems like it is pretty important to him."
What Donnell needs to show the Giants over the next three games is that he can go from a guy who looks like an NFL tight end some of the time to a guy they can depend on to perform all the time.
The five-year veteran looked like the most consistent, if not the most dynamic, player among the tight ends before suffering a bone bruise on his knee during the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game vs. the Buffalo Bills. Fells is just getting back to practice.
The six-year veteran is primarily a blocking tight end, having caught only three passes in 15 games last season. He really hasn't shown much and strictly in looking at the two veteran guys is behind Fells at this point in the competition for a roster spot. If things stay as they are Davis' shot at a roster spot does not look good.
Ahhh, Robinson. You can figure out everything you need to know about where the 2012 fourth-round draft pick stands from the fact that McAdoo never uttered his name Tuesday when talking about the tight ends. You keep waiting for Robinson to show the athleticism that led GM Jerry Reese to call him "the JPP of tight ends" when he drafted him. Instead, Robinson keeps dropping passes, failing to get open and generally falling farther and farther behind Donnell. Robinson might make this team -- Reese after all is famously stubborn about giving up on draft picks. Right now, though, there is no evidence to suggest that Robinson can be a reliable part of the Giants' tight end rotation.
Xavier Grimble/Jerome Cunningham
There was some buzz about Grimble, an undrafted free agent from USC, during OTAs and mini-camp. Grimble has missed most of camp with a hamstring injury, is just now beginning to practice on a limited basis, and right now would seem to have no shot to make the 53-man roster. Practice squad, maybe, but not the 53. Cunningham, an undrafted rookie from Southern Connecticut State, has only been around for a few days.
It seems more and more apparent that the Giants will have to scour the waiver wire or explore the trade market for someone who can be a consistent pass-catching option at tight end. In a future post, we will look at some of the potential options.