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Coaches Corner: Spotlighting the Tight Ends

By Michael Stewart/@TheTruthNYG

This is part 4 in this series spotlighting the Tight End position; which had high hopes entering the 2020 season. Fast forward to free agency and GM Dave Gettleman decided to add a reliable target in Kyle Rudolph who gives the Giants a traditional tight end who can block and also be a Red Zone threat.  Let’s take a look at the projected starters, backups and players on the bubble.

Starters

  • Kyle Rudolph: The signing of Kyle Rudolph will give the Giants a more reliable pass catcher at the Tight End position and a Red Zone Threat. Additionally; Rudolph is an excellent blocker; which was also lacking at the Tight End spot. With zero drops over the last two seasons, look for Rudolph to be one of Daniel Jones favorite targets.
  • Evan Engram: The up and mostly down career of Evan Engram had an exclamation point in 2020 when Engram had a total of 11 drops and still was rewarded pro bowl honors. Engram is playing in his 5th and more than likely final season for the Giants and will be less counted on with the offensive additions by the Giants. .

Backups

  • Kaden Smith: In limited action in 2020, Kaden Smith did a good job catching the ball and being a reliable blocker. With all the problems the Giants endured with Engram last season, not sure why Smith didn’t see more playing time. Hopefully in 2021, that will change.
  • Levine Toilolo: I’m surprised Toilolo is still a Giant. In fact, the Giants re-structured his contract which often suggests that he’s in the team’s 2021 plan. Well, I’m not totally in agreement as the Giants haven’t kept four Tight Ends on their final roster that I could remember.

On the Outside Looking in

  • Kelvin Benjamin: Benjamin was drafted as a WR and had a productive rookie season before injuries hampered his playing time and production. Benjamin will now embark his second stint in the NFL as a Tight End, but still needs to show the Giants organization that they made the right decision in signing him. Benjamin biggest strength will be in the red zone.
  • Nakia Griffin-Stewart: Griffin-Stewart was signed in the off season without much fanfare and he’ll more than likely be released in the same fashion; unless he performs like Mark Bavaro in training camp. That is if he even makes it to training camp.
  • Cole Hitutini: The signing of Hitutini was an interesting one for me as Hitutini displayed offensive ability at Louisville and was an adequate blocker. It’s highly unlikely he makes the final cuts, but could be a candidate for the practice squad.
  • Rysen John: John was a UDFA signee in 2020 and is a converted wide receiver. At 6’7, John has been adding size and strength for the past year and he’s more than likely heading back to the practice squad in 2021, if the Giants still believe he has upside.

With eight tight ends currently on the roster at the time of this article being released; over the past five seasons the Giants have kept the maximum of 3 on the roster. Throw in the abundance of talent at the wide receiver spot; which should warrant the team to possibly carry more than in previous seasons. I believe the NFL will permit 12 players to be assigned to the practice squad in 2021, if so, could the Giants use two of those selections on a tight end? When there are other positions that could have more than one player being worthy candidates as well.