With their fourth pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the New York Giants selected Cincinnati tight end Adrien Robinson. At 6-4, 267 pounds, Robinson is a large man. At Cincinnati, Robinson only accumulated 29 receptions for 434 yards, a 14.9 yard per catch average, and 5 touchdowns. However, Giants General Manager Jerry Reese thought extremely highly of this young man and would proclaim after the draft that, “We think this guy is kind of like the JPP of tight ends.” JPP refers to Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul for those that didn’t know. That is obviously high praise for someone who didn’t really participate in his team’s offense throughout his collegiate career.
However, the Giants brought Robinson in for a pre-draft visit and fell in love with him enough to add him to the mix at tight end where he will be competing with Bear Pascoe, Christian Hopkins, Ryan Purvis, and Larry Donnell for the second tight end role behind Martellus Bennett. Last year’s starter, Jake Ballard and backup Travis Beckum are currently trying to recover from ACL injuries suffered during the Super Bowl and will most likely start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
Why would the Giants use the first of two fourth round picks on a player that probably wasn’t even on the radar of most teams? The only answer is potential. Robinson has tons of it. Robinson possesses a great blend of speed, height, and bulk which will create matchup problems with opponents. Against Miami of Ohio, Robinson showed off his speed and his ability to come back for the ball as he made a tough, juggling catch that went for 72 yards. On that play he dragged safety Anthony Kokal for six yards before finally being brought down at the three-yard line.
The Giants saw in Robinson a player who has the physical tools to develop into a beast at the tight end position. Those physical tools can elevate him into being a huge threat inside the red zone. He has long arms, very good hands, and shows a decent leaping ability as well as the ability to adjust to throws made behind, over, and around him.
Robinson won’t contribute on offense right away unless he has a stellar camp and preseason and shows Coach Tom Coughlin and the coaching staff that he has a full grasp of the offense. It is doubtful that will happen in his rookie year. The Giants drafted Robinson based on potential and Robinson will need to work very hard to learn to run cleaner and crisper routes and improve in his blocking. However, there is a very good chance Robinson could see plenty of time on special teams where he should be able to make at least some impact. In college, Robinson showed the ability to play in-line or flexed out. Once he becomes a more consistent blocker, he could become a very good in-line, two-way tight end in the NFL.
I don’t expect much from Robinson in year one. He might see some playing time as the number two tight end but he will be spending most of the year behind Bennett and Pascoe while making his presence felt on special teams and probably seeing some occasional duty in red zone packages. Bennett and Beckum become free agents after next season and Ballard has now had injuries to both knees in recent years so the Giants will be hoping that Robinson’s learning curve is short.
Right now there is no reason to think that Robinson can’t eventually emerge as the Giants starting tight end. Given the way Tight Ends Coach Mike Pope has developed players like Jake Ballard and Kevin Boss in recent years, who would any Giants fan have reason to worry? I’d be willing to bet that Robinson has a much more productive career than 1992 first round draft pick Derek Brown. It will be interesting to see if Reese was right about his new tight end and see if he can impact a game the way JPP can.