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Giants 2021 roster profile: FB Cullen Gillaspia

Special teams ace will compete with Elijhaa Penny

Houston Texans v Cleveland Browns Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Cullen Gillaspia is a fullback who rarely played fullback in two seasons with the Houston Texans. He was really a special teams player. Now, he is a member of the New York Giants.

Can Gillaspia earn a roster spot? Let’s discuss as we continue profiling the 90 players the Giants will bring to training camp this summer.

The basics

Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 235
Age: 26
Position: Fullback
Experience: 2
Contract: One-year, $850,000 | Guaranteed: $0 | 2021 cap hit: $850,000

Career to date

Perhaps Gillaspia’s most notable accomplishment in football is that as a Texas A&M walk-on Gillaspia served as the team’s 12th man during the 2016 and 2017 seasons. That meant he wore the No. 12 jersey for the Aggies and served as a team captain.

Gillaspia was a linebacker for his first three seasons with the Aggies, converting to fullback in his final season. He was drafted in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft (220th overall by the Houston Texans.

Gillaspia made a reputation as an outstanding special teams player at Texas A&M, and that has continued in the NFL. With Houston in two seasons, Gillaspia has nine special teams tackles while playing 390 special teams snaps. In that time, he has played only 20 regular-season snaps on offense.

2021 outlook

If you follow Gillaspia on Twitter, he seems like a fun guy. Can he really take the Giants’ fullback job away from incumbent Elijhaa Penny, though?

Penny played only 73 snaps on offense last season (7 percent), but has played 419 snaps on offense over four NFL seasons. He offers versatility an a potential ballcarrier with 59 carries and 16 receptions in his career. He has been an acceptable if not overwhelming lead blocker during his career.

Penny has also been a key special teams player. He participated in 245 special teams snaps last season (60 percent), the third time in four seasons he has played more than 200 special teams snaps. He made six solo tackles on special teams last season and had a Pro Football Focus grade of 76.6.

We don’t know if the Giants are going to continue to de-emphasize the use of the fullback on offense. To win the job from Penny, Gillaspia is going to have to show the Giants he can be a better lead blocker and a more valuable special teamer.

I’m not sure he can do that.