Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Big Blue Morning: Robinson an answer?
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
New York Giants fans keep asking about tight end. Some are concerned because the team added only Kellen Davis at the position this offseason. Some are convinced the team will take Eric Ebron with the No. 12 pick in the draft. They might. But they also might not. What if they don't like Ebron at 12? What if they like someone else better? What if someone takes him with one of the first 11 picks? Unless you have the No. 1 pick, you can't know who you're going to take. So if the Giants really are basing their tight end plans on the idea of Ebron at 12, they need a Plan B.
So what about Adrien Robinson? The 2012 fourth-round draft pick is yes, still on the roster. He has played in only three games so far in his NFL career and has yet to catch a pass. He would be easily forgotten if GM Jerry Reese hadn't regrettably referred to him as "the JPP of tight ends" in a news conference shortly after that 2012 draft.
That comment has evolved into a term of derision toward Robinson and Reese by Giants fans who are disappointed with Robinson's lack of progress, but the comment is misconstrued in retrospect. Reese wasn't intending to compare Robinson to Jason Pierre-Paul as a talent but rather as a project. The Giants took Pierre-Paul in the first round of the 2010 draft because, though they knew he was raw, they believed he had the talent to be a dominant player at his position. He became that in 2011, so when Reese said what he said about Robinson following the fourth round in 2012, the words had serious weight.
But Robinson was a fourth-round project, which is far different from a first-round project. And regardless of round, projects don't always develop as quickly as Pierre-Paul did, if they ever do. Pierre-Paul exploded onto the scene in his second year. This year coming up will be Robinson's third. Though they haven't seen it translate to anything at all on the field yet, the Giants continue to believe there is talent and potential in Robinson's 6-foot-4, 264-pound frame.
Last year, an offseason foot injury cost Robinson preparation time and lingered into the season, making him a game-day inactive for each of the first 14 games. But the Giants never put him on injured reserve, mainly because they believed he could contribute once ready. They finally made him active for the Week 16 game in Detroit, and in a you-can't-make-this-up moment, he injured his knee on the opening kickoff and missed that game and the next one. Lost season for the young man, who will turn 26 in September.
Can he be the answer at tight end for the 2014 Giants if they don't find one elsewhere? The plain fact is they don't know. They believe him to be a willing and able blocker in the run game, based on what they've seen in practice. They believe his size and speed (assuming all of those foot and knee problems haven't sapped any speed) could make him a mismatch for pass defenses. It's all theory, but the way the Giants' roster is constructed at the moment, it appears Robinson could get another chance in 2014. If he makes good on it, then that fourth-round project pick from two years ago pays off. If he doesn't, the Giants could still be looking for answers at tight end.