The New York Giants have re-made their tight end position heading into the 2022 season. Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph and Kaden Smith are gone. So are practice squad guys like Rysen John and Jake Hausmann.
The Giants have seven players competing for tight end roster spots, six of them new to the organization this season.
Tight ends coach Andy Bischoff — also new to the Giants after coaching with the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans in a trio of NFL stops since 2013 — broke down the newcomers recently. Let’s go through the group.
The veteran free agents
Ricky Seals-Jones and Jordan Akins are both players with significant experience, but neither has ever been a full-time starter. Seals-Jones has 15 career starts in 54 games with four different teams. Akins started 23 of 58 career games over four seasons with the Houston Texans.
“They give us guys who have played football, and give us a chance to get this thing started the right way,” Bischoff said.
Neither Seals-Jones, a collegiate wide receiver, nor Akins, a one-time minor-league baseball player, are classic inline tight ends.
“You’re certainly working to every guy’s strength. Every guy does something a little better than maybe he doesn’t do as well. It’s our responsibility as a staff to put the guys in the right spots. Are we going to run downhill runs behind some of those guys? That would be silly on our behalf,” Bischoff said.
“We’ve gotta put ‘em in their best spot, and those are guys that you want to keep them on the perimeter and you want to keep them doing what they do well.”
Here is Bischoff on Seals-Jones:
“There’s an injury with Washington a year ago and all he did was step in and play good football, play winning football to help his team.
“Here’s a guy who’s made the transition from receiver to tight end over the course of his career. Here is now with a wide open room and a wide open opportunity.”
On Akins, whom he coached in Houston during the 2021 season:
“Another guy that has good football left in him. Our system and that system are a little bit similar, so that helps him.”
The draft pick
The Giants had a number of options if they were zeroed in on a tight end with their selection at No. 112 in Round 4, a pick they used on Daniel Bellinger of San Diego State.
“He’s one of those rare guys today that can really do it all,” Bellinger said. “He can block, he can protect and what we want him to do is get open against man coverage. He can do all those things.”
Bischoff said it was “too early” to be able to predict how big Bellinger’s role could be in 2022.
I think we’re trying to build a room of competition. He’s pushing the envelope in the room, which is great.
“It’s great when you can bring in people like Daniel and Austin [Allen] and Jeremiah [Hall] and Andre [Miller] who all have the ability to push the envelope with the group, and he’s doing that. He’s making progress every day.”
The undrafted free agents
The Giants brought in three undrafted free agent tight ends, and each is interesting in his own way.
The Giants list the former Nebraska Cornhusker at 6-foot-9, 255 pounds. Allen caught 38 passes for 602 yards for Nebraska in 2022.
“The guy’s tall as could be, he was a three-sport athlete coming out of high school. He’s a very athletic guy. He can give you some of those traits that – block a little, protect a little, get open,” Bischoff said.
“That’s a guy, a blessing to fall into our lap as a free agent. Probably a kid many thought would have gone drafted. So, here he is, it’s a blessing for us.“
Hall played two years at fullback for Oklahoma, then two years at tight end. He ended up catching 68 passes for 757 yards and rushing 53 times for an average of 4.1 yards per carry.
“This guy is really sharp,” Bischoff said. “You turn on the Oklahoma Sooners and you think it’s going to be five wide receivers every down, but you’ve got a fullback out there and he played so much more football than you would ever guess that a fullback would play at Oklahoma. It’s a credit to him, it’s a credit to what he did within their system, and ultimately he just played good football, positive football, and it kept him on the field.”
A wide receiver at Maine, the Giants are looking at him as a potential pass-catching tight end.
“He’s a college receiver who’s making that transition to our room and he’s learning how to be a tight end every day. He won’t get it all in a week or a month or a season. It’s my job, it’s our job to bring him along, to help him have success in the things he’s doing, to mitigate the landmines that could be out there and to help bring him along,” Bischoff said.
“Smart guy, had a lot of success in college, he’s learning the system. He’s an interesting guy to have in our room.”