Kevin Boss, Travis Beckum, Jake Ballard, Martellus Bennett.
The common NFL fan may say they’ve never heard of em.
Most fantasy players would say they’ve never owned em.
New York would say those guys were all starters at some point over the past five seasons, and Giants fans should say that’s a problem.
The New York Giants have never really given Eli Manning an elite, or even top-tier tight end to call his own. Sure, Jeremy Shockey was a great asset, but was more towards the downside of his career when Manning was beginning to take flight.
Most NFL fans know just how much QB’s love their tight ends; a guy who can create mismatches and stretch the middle of the field. Manning is no different from his peers in this, but every year is consistently coupled with tight ends who usually would not be starting on a team considered to be Super Bowl contenders.
Last season Martellus Bennett was fourth amongst NFC tight ends in dropped passes with 6, and turned out a less than stellar season.
Of the 90 targets he saw, Bennett managed to only bring in 55 catches for 626 yards and fives scores. Bennett also had no grabs of 40-plus yards on the season, and averaged under 40-yards per game. Instead of getting Manning a starting tight end, the Giants opted to get the Cowboys backup at a discounted rate.
This isn’t pick on Martellus Bennett day, or any of the former Giants’ tight ends throughout the years, but Manning needs some more help. If this team is truly committed to the passing game, then Eli should be given a real weapon at tight end.
The free agent pool is rather shallow in the tight end department this year, and it’s not as if the Giants are working with a ton of cap space anyway. New York must now look to the the draft to snag an athletic, play-making, tight end who can help Manning open up the passing game.
TYLER EIFERT – NOTRE DAME
The Giants need linebackers and cornerbacks in this year’s draft, but Jerry Reese has usually taken talent over need, and Tyler Eifert’s draft projection falls right around the middle-to-end of the first round.
Despite a great year, Notre Dame didn’t have the best passing game, and underutilized what could be the best tight end in this year’s draft. Eifert caught 50 passes for 685 yards and four touchdowns last season.
Eifert also had a solid combine showing, posting a 4.68 in the 40-yard dash, and a 35½-inch vertical leap. His skills in the passing game are unquestionable, but the strides he’s made in run blocking game are also worth noting. He was also able to put up 22-bench reps at the combine as well.
It’s obvious he’ll be an instant impact player for any team that drafts him, but will the Giants go for talent over need this time around if Eifert is still on the board?
ZACK ERTZ – STANFORD
Zack Erts is another tight end projected to go late in the first round.
Erts is a three-down tight end, with the ability to be productive in both the passing and running game.
The Stanford product totaled 69 receptions for 898 yards and six touchdowns. Ertz is very athletic for his 6’5″ 250-pound frame. Some even consider Ertz to be a better prospect than Coby Fleener.
It would be a reach for Erts to make it to the Giants in the second round, so while it’s unlikely New York would grab him at pick 19, they could still use his services. A route they could try and go is swapping first round picks with a team a bit lower, while gaining a later pick in the process.
MYCHAL RIVERA – TENNESSEE
Mychal Rivera is a great example of hard work paying off.
The former Volunteer increased his production every year, and forced himself onto many teams draft boards.
Rivera posted 36 receptions for 562 yards and five scores.
His 15.6 yards per reception was among the nations leaders with 10 or more games played.
Against Missouri this past season, Rivera terrorized the defense with 10 receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown. He could be a steal in the fourth or fifth round, and really get going in an offense like the one in New York.
CHRIS GRAGG – ARKANSAS
Chris Gragg is definitely someone who can stretch the field and create mismatches for any linebacker trying to keep up.
Gragg posted a combine best 4.50 in the 40-yard dash for tight ends, the fourth-fastest mark at the position since 2006, according to NFL.com
Gragg missed seven games last season with a knee injury, and didn’t get the chance to show scouts what he could do as a senior. Gragg will probably slip down to the fourth or fifth round because of the injury, and possbily into a Giants uniform. Gragg would give the Giants something they’ve never really seen at the tight end position-speed.