clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Return of the fullback? Giants give Shane Smith a chance

Giants did not have a fullback in 2016

NCAA Football: Brigham Young at San Jose State John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

After relying almost entirely on an “11” personnel grouping — three wide receivers, one running back, one tight end — a season ago, New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo has promised that the team’s offense will be “more multiple” in 2017.

GM Jerry Reese has provided McAdoo with some flashy new toys to spice up an offense that was far too predictable in 2016. There’s a big-bodied wide receiver in Brandon Marshall who has gone to six Pro Bowls and caught more than 900 passes during his career. There is a first-round pick in Evan Engram billed as a “new age” tight end, a guy who should help open up passing lanes for Odell Beckham & Co. There is a solid blocking tight end/H-Back in Rhett Ellison, something the Giants lacked a year ago. There is a new running back in fourth-round pick Wayne Gallman.

Could there also be something else? Could the Giants also return to the quaint, old-fashioned notion of carrying a true fullback?

One of the players the Giants have reportedly signed as an undrafted free agent, Shane Smith of San Jose State, is just that.

McAdoo was asked at the NFL Combine why the Giants did not carry a fullback on their 2016 roster, and if they would consider doing so in 2017.

“Well it just really depends how things shake out, whether it’s the free agent market, whether it’s the draft class, it depends on what you have to choose from, the guys on your roster,” McAdoo said. “Really going into the season we had two players (in Will Johnson and Nikita Whitlock) that we felt pretty good about playing fullback for us, and neither of them stayed healthy, and that was a part of it, really for one reason or another they weren’t a part of the team. So we had to go in another direction and we used what we had. We’ll continue to evaluate. If we feel there’s someone out there that can help us, we’ll use him.”

With Smith in camp, and Ellison also having experience lining up at fullback, the Giants at least have the option.

Whether they end up keeping Smith or not, the Giants have given many indications this offseason that they are serious about running the ball better. In addition to Ellison, trying Mark Herzlich as tight end, releasing Rashad Jennings and drafting Wayne Gallman are among them. Now, the possibility of a real fullback on the roster.

Smith, 6’1,” 244 pounds, is a pure blocker. He carried only eight times and caught 21 passes in 25 games over four seasons at San Jose State.

Tony Pauline of Draft Analyst says:

Nice-sized lead blocker with a one-dimensional game. Aggressive, displays outstanding vision and shows strength at the point. Attacks assignments, accelerates into blocks and squares into opponents. Keeps his feet moving on contact, stays square and seals open running lanes. Does enough to disrupt defensive linemen from the action and protect his quarterback.

Smith used an impressive Pro Day, with 36 bench press reps (which would have been the best at the NFL Combine) and 10-foot, 6-inch broad jump, to make sure NFL teams noticed him.

Here’s a peek at just how strong Smith, a converted linebacker, is:

Can that strength translate into a roster spot with the Giants? That’s a question that can’t be answered right now. It is interesting, though, that the Giants are giving Smith a chance.