It’s no secret the New York Giants need help at tight end. Travis Beckum will start the year on the physically-unable-to-perform list, Jake Ballard was lost on waivers to the New England Patriots, and Adrien Robinson, the Giants fourth round selection is still very raw. The Giants did sign Martellus Bennett from the Dallas Cowboys, their only big free agent acquisition, but he has a lot to prove after a couple of unproductive years with the Cowboys.
The wild card in the tight end situation is Bear Pascoe. Pascoe was drafted in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers but was assigned to their practice squad and never saw the field for them. The Giants signed Pascoe away from the 49ers practice squad and promoted him to their active roster on December 4, 2009. Pascoe would split 2010 between the practice squad and active roster and started to see more playing time in 2011 as an H-back.
Heading into this season, the Giants plan for Pascoe is to incorporate him into the offense a little more out of the backfield and at tight end. He has very good size at 6-5, 284 pounds and has sneaky athleticism as evidenced by his Week 17 leap over Cowboys corner Terrance Newman. With his knowledge of the offense and his ability to line up all over the place he could quickly become a favored target of quarterback Eli Manning. Although he only caught 12 passes last season for 136 yards, Pascoe stepped up in the Super Bowl after Ballard and Beckum went down with injuries to catch 4 passes, a single-game career high for him, for 33 yards. He also caught his first touchdown pass of his career, his only catch of the game, in the NFC Championship game against his old team, the San Francisco 49ers. Pascoe also is not afraid to make contact with anyone who gets in his way and can be tough to bring down. His legs always seem to be driving forward and he will fight for that extra inch or two. While he may not have breakaway speed, he is tough, knowledgeable in the offense, and has proven he can be reliable in crunch time as evidenced by his elevating his game in the Super Bowl.
The Giants currently have seven tight ends on their roster. Bennett will most likely get the starting slot. Beckum will miss a good portion of the season, if not all of it. Robinson is raw and will need a lot of coaching but has oodles of talent. Then there are Christian Hopkins, Ryan Purvis, Larry Donnell, and, of course, Pascoe. Pascoe, right now, is the Giants second tight end unless Adrien Robinson has a monster training camp and earns the second spot. Pascoe’s knowledge of the offense will surely give him an edge in camp. One also can’t underestimate the impact tight ends coach Mike Pope has had turning out successful tight ends in Kevin Boss and Jake Ballard the last couple of years. Pascoe isn’t too dissimilar from either one of those guys in terms of skillset.
The Giants passing game is focused on their wide receivers but Manning will target his tight ends with some regularity. With so many talented receivers demanding extra attention, Pascoe could find himself open in the flat quite a bit, much like Jake Ballard was at times last season. I won’t go as far as to say Pascoe will have as much of an impact as Ballard had on the team last season but he could find himself being targeted in key situations. There is little doubt in my mind that Pascoe will see an increased role this season and will eclipse 12 catches early on in the year and probably be the New York Giants breakout player of the year.