By Michael Stewart
With training camp just around the corner, I wanted to take a look at a couple of positions that in years past lacked depth and talent, but has now become positions with possible production with much needed depth. I will review 4 positions (TE/DT/RB/OT) that has become deep in potential talent. My first look will be the tight end position that has become a very popular position entering the 2017-18 season largely due to the drafting of Evan Engram. Let’s take a look at the New York Giants tight end position: The tight end position for the Giants has been one of the weakest positions over the past few years in terms of production. However; with the addition of Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison, the Giants have improved the TE position dramatically and with returnees Will Tye, Matt LaCosse, Jerell Adams and UDFA signee Colin Thompson added into the mix; makes for a very interesting position battle in training camp. Let’s take a look at the New York Giants tight ends:
- Evan Engram (1st round/23rd overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft): Unless Engram totally emplodes in training camp, he should secure a roster spot and be a solid contributor as a rookie. Many speculations have already been reported on how Head Coach Ben McAdoo will utilize the talented WR/TE Hybrid. Either way, it should be fun to watch this kid on the playing field.
- Rhett Ellison (Free Agent Signing in 2017): Ellison will not remind you of Jeremy Shockey running a seam route or out running a defender into the end zone. However; he will remind you of Mark Bavaro in terms of his blocking ability that the Giants haven’t had in a very long time. Ellison will not only line up at the traditional TE position along the line of scrimmage, but he will also be featured at the FB position in the backfield; which the Giants abandoned in 2016. I don’t expect to see a 100 yard day from Ellison, but I do expect to see the Giants running attack improve when he is on the field.
- Will Tye (UDFA signing in 2015): Tye was rated near the bottom in 2016 in total production (48 receptions for 395 yards and only 1 TD) and for yards per reception (8.2) at the TE position. Although he has shown some flashes of ability, an upgraded was desperately needed at the TE position. Now Tye will battle for not only battle for playing time, but also for a roster spot. One plus that is in Tye’s favor is that he has improved each year and the Giants do view him as a viable contributor.
- Jerell Adams (6th round selection in the 2016 draft): Before Engram arrived, Adams was the fastest TE on the roster. Adams did see playing time in 2016 with 16 receptions for 122 yards and 1 TD. Many in the Giants organization viewed Adams as their future starting TE (before the drafting of Engram). Adams combines excellent size with good overall athletic ability. Adams could emerge as a bonafide 1B Tight end for the Giants with Engram 1A within the next couple of years, giving the Giants a two-headed monster at the TE position. Adams has the tools be a solid blocker and receiver if he can keep improving over the next couple of seasons.
- Matt LaCosse (UDFA signing in 2015): Nothing has gone right for the former TE out of Illinois; knee surgery and a hamstring injury in his early career. Despite all his downfalls, the Giants still see enough in him to keep him around. The 6’6, 250 pound TE is very versatile when healthy as he can play TE, HB and FB. LaCosse is surprisingly fast for his size and has excellent hands and has a blue collar demeanor. Probably the 2nd best blocking TE in camp behind Ellison and had an excellent OTA and could emerge as a dark horse to be consider for the 53 man roster or a practice squad candidate; if not claimed.
- Colin Thompson (UDFA signing in 2017): Thompson was primarily used as a blocking TE at Temple and rarely was a featured receiver. I like this endless motor and willingness to do what- ever is required, however; he is an extremely long shot of not only making the 53 man roster, but also the practice squad.
Final Thoughts: Looking at the Giants tight ends currently, it’s apparent to me that Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison are locks to make the club (unless a season ending injury occurs). Last season, the Giants carried 3 tight ends, however; the current talent on hand for the Giants could suggest that they might carry 4 or perhaps 5. Especially with the versatility of Rhett Ellison playing either the HB or FB positions and Engram also able to play as a WR in certain formations. Based on those two possible scenarios, would it be possible that the Giants might even retain 5 tight ends for opening day? In my opinion, Jerell Adams has a slight lead over either Tye and/or LaCosse, purely based on his upside and what many believe he could eventually develop into. That leaves Will Tye or Matt LaCosse for the possible final spot if the Giants plan on going with 4 TE. Obviously; Tye has a tremendous advantage over LaCosse with proven NFL experience; which LaCosse lacks. However; as I mentioned earlier; all reports regarding LaCosse performance during OTA has the Giants brass seriously taken a longer look at him. Ultimately, if the Giants do decide to keep 5 tight ends (a very long shot) that would most likely mean that a RB spot and a WR spot will be eliminated.