The New York Giants' biggest addition to date this off-season has been that of tight end Martellus Bennett, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys. Bennett has the skill set to be one of the league's top tight ends with his size, athleticism, ball skills, and ability as a blocker. Immaturity and playing behind Pro-Bowl tight end Jason Witten has limited his development, but Bennett has a chance to show the league that he can still play up to his immense potential on his one-year "prove it" deal with the G-Men.
That being said, Giants tight ends Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum are both expected to start the season on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list after suffering ACL injuries at the end of the magical 2011 campaign. With the position still facing uncertainty, I expect the Giants to look into adding another tight end to the mix prior to the start of next season.
Looking at the 2012 tight end draft class, you certainly don't have a Jimmy Graham type prospect jumping out at you, and while it is a bit of a shallow class, there are certainly a handful of guys with the physical tools to be a significant addition to an NFL offense and an NFL passing game.
Today at Giants 101, we break down some of the tight ends highlighting the 2012 group in the NFL draft.
1. TE Coby Fleener - Stamford – 6'6 247 lbs
Andrew Luck's top red zone target in 2011 and for good reason. Fleener has a very dangerous combination of length and athleticism, and shows the hands and body control to grab the football in traffic for his quarterback. Fleener has impressive acceleration for a player his size and while he isn't a huge threat to hurt NFL defenses over the top and down the sideline, Fleener is deceptive and capable of making big plays down the seam if defenses don't respect his speed. Excellent route runner who knows how to manipulate defenders. Gives effort as a blocker but needs work in his technique to be effective at the next level. Won't do a ton of damage after the catch but a huge matchup problem in the red zone. Tough to see him not having success in the National Football League.
Value: Late First Round Pick
2. TE Orson Charles – Georgia – 6'2 251 lbs
He may be undersized, but boy oh boy does Orson Charles have the physical tools and physical, tough approach to the game to be a big time playmaker at the NFL level. Has the speed to beat NFL linebackers and safeties over the top, but also the explosive strength to run over defensive backs after the catch. Outstanding effort as a blocker, strong, and plays through the whistle. Strong hands to snatch the ball out of the air, but does have slip-ups in concentration at times and will drop catchable balls. His size is the biggest concern, but if Charles lands with a team that can find a role for him and create mismatches with his skill set, he has the upside to be a true gamebreaker in the NFL.
Value: Early Second Round Pick
3. TE Dwayne Allen – Clemson – 6'3 255 lbs
One of the "safer" picks in this draft, Allen is a very committed, hard-working prospect who did a lot of different things for the Clemson offense in his collegiate career. Not a game-breaking type tight end, but make no mistake – Allen will consistently contribute to the passing game with his excellent hands and clean route running. Allen has shown the ability to consistently run with power and toughness after the catch and turn the underneath throw into considerable yardage. Not a dominant blocker and may never be, but has good athleticism and will make blocks in the open field.
Value: Early Second Round Pick
4. TE Ladarius Green – La.-Lafayette – 6'6 238 lbs
Will certainly need to bulk up and get stronger at the NFL level to be on the field consistently and bring enough to the blocking game to be trusted by NFL coaches, but Green has the height and receiving skills to be a valuable addition to the passing game at the next level. Very good hands and will make plays in traffic. Good athleticism and has the long arms and height to snatch the football over defensive backs in the air. Level of competition is a concern and the jump to the NFL game will be a big one, but has the work ethic and approach to transfer his physical ability to the NFL game.
Value: Third Round Pick
BEST OF THE REST
5. Michael Egnew – Missouri – 6'5 252 lbs
6. James Hanna – Oklahoma – 6'4 252 lbs
7. Brian Linthicum - Michigan St. – 6'5 245 lbs
8. Deangelo Peterson – LSU – 6'3 243 lbs
9. Rhett Ellison – USC – 6'5 251 lbs
10. Kevin Koger – Michigan – 6'4 258 lbs
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