Draft preview: Tight end

April, 19, 2012
4/19/12
12:46
PM ET
This is the fourth installment in a nine-part series that will analyze the Giants' needs, position by position, in the upcoming draft.

Position: Tight end.

Depth chart: Martellus Bennett, Jake Ballard, Bear Pascoe, Travis Beckum, Christian Hopkins, Ryan Purvis and Larry Donnell.

Not under contract: None.

Scouting report: Tight end was the biggest position of concern for the Giants entering the offseason. Ballard and Beckum are recovering from ACL surgeries. Beckum says his recovery is going very well and that he could optimistically be back by the season opener after tearing his ACL in the Super Bowl. Ballard had microfracture knee surgery in addition to his ACL surgery and says his return could come midseason or later.

The Giants signed Bennett hoping that the former Cowboys tight end will shine with his first opportunity to start. Bennett has a nice blend of size and hands and can block. But he has yet to see significant playing time after backing up Jason Witten in Dallas.

The Giants are high on Pascoe, who can play tight end, fullback and be an extra blocker. Jerry Reese also has talked up Hopkins, who spent last season on the Giants practice squad. Last season, Ballard emerged as a tight end threat so Eli Manning certainly could develop another tight end. Tight ends coach Mike Pope also is considered among the best in the business.

The Last Time: The Giants last drafted a tight end when they took Beckum in the third round in 2009.

Potential targets: It remains to be seen whether Reese will use a high draft pick on a tight end after signing Bennett. Reese will stick with the best player available on his board. Still, a popular pick by many draft experts is Stanford tight end Coby Fleener, who could be available when the Giants pick at 32. Fleener is the best tight end available in the draft and the Giants certainly could use another tight end since they like to use two tight ends in certain packages and in the case that Bennett doesn’t adjust to the Giants offense. Clemson’s Dwayne Allen is a tight end who could potentially be drafted in the second round. The Giants could decide to draft a tight end late in the draft. Other tight ends the Giants could look at in later rounds include Louisiana-Lafayette's Ladarius Green, Oklahoma’s James Hanna, LSU’s Deangelo Peterson, Alabama’s Brad Smelley and Michigan State’s Brian Linthicum.

According to ProFootballTalk.com, the Giants have brought in Cincinnati tight end Adrien Robinson, Central Florida's Adam Nissley and Wisconsin's Jake Byrne.

Or they could just try to develop another undrafted free agent like they did successfully with Ballard and Pascoe.

Need Rating (On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being of highest importance): 7.

Next: OL.
Ohm Youngmisuk has covered the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Prior to that, he covered the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for nearly a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working at the New York Daily News for almost 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State University.
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