It was a bit of a surprise to see Larry Donnell listed as the no. 1 tight end on the New York Giants‘ first unofficial depth chart, which was released on Thursday.
A depth chart released at the beginning of training camp could mean very little in terms of what we might actually see at the start of the 2014 season. But, at the same time, it is clear the Giants like what they have seen from Donnell this offseason.
Donnell, 25 years old, was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Grambling State. He played a reserve role for New York last year, cracking the lineup on special teams and catching three passes for 31 yards in limited time at tight end.
Donnell is still raw and learning the position. There is plenty of room for improvement, both as a blocker and as a receiver, but the Giants like Donnell’s attitude and work ethic. He has shown growth and the potential to keep evolving.
The other candidates in the competition include Kellen Davis, Adrien Robinson, Daniel Fells and Xavier Grimble.
Many initially believed that the starting role was Robinson’s to lose this offseason, but to this point, it seems Robinson has been a disappointment. He is also a young and inexperienced tight end, as injuries and youth kept him from the field in his first two seasons. However, even more surprising than seeing Donnell being tapped as the first-string tight end was seeing Robinson listed as far down as No. 5 on the depth chart.
This offseason, general manager Jerry Reese talked about how the impact of the tight end position is not a major factor in the dynamic of New York’s offense. However, the failures of the offensive line last season included serious struggles from starting tight end Brandon Myers, who’s blocking deficiencies turned out to be a major hole in the offense. Maybe the role will be expanded in new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo‘s system.
The tight end competition is just getting started. Donnell may have jumped out to a nice start in training camp, but things can change quickly. One thing is for sure, this battle for the starting role will be a long and interesting one.