Rookie Progress Report: Jerell Adams

Posted Jul 3, 2016's Dan Salomone takes an in-depth look at the 2016 rookie class following the offseason program:

Half a year has passed since rookies played in their last college game, and yet they’ve never been busier.

Over that time, the NFL’s incoming class prepared for the combine, participated in the combine, held Pro Days, anxiously awaited the draft results, and reported for rookie minicamp before being thrown into the deep end with veterans during spring practices. Such is life for an athlete trying to make it to the professional level.

The rookies are now enjoying a much-needed break before reporting for training camp on July 28. So it's a good time to gauge their progress heading into summer.

Today’s rookie report is on tight end Jerell Adams, the Giants’ sixth-round pick out of South Carolina:


The 6-foot-5, 247-pount tight end played in 47 games with 15 starts for the Gamecocks, catching 66 passes for 977 yards (14.8-yard avg.) and seven touchdowns. In 2015, he posted a career year with 28 receptions for 421 yards and three scores. At the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Adams ran the 40-yard dash in 4.64 seconds, the fastest among all tight ends.


“Big, tall, long guy, fastest tight end in the draft,” said Marc Ross, the Giants’ vice president of player personnel. “[It is] rare to see a guy that gives block effort like this guy. You don’t see these guys actually give effort. He does it, he uses his length to get on people, fast down the seam, a little raw on his route running and hands but in the sixth round of the draft a big, fast, competitive guy who is a good person off the field, we thought, was worth a chance.”


Adams may have been the fastest at the combine, but will he be the best of his class? ESPN draft expert Todd McShay thought so when the Giants selected Adams, the sixth tight end taken behind Hunter Henry (Chargers), Austin Hooper (Falcons), Nick Vannett (Seahawks), Tyler Higbee (Rams) and Temarrick Hemingway (Rams).

“This guy, when it’s all said and done, has a chance to become the best tight end from this draft class,” McShay said. “Jerell Adams would be on my All-Underrated Team for this 2016 draft. Just not a lot of fanfare or national recognition because he played in an offense at South Carolina that didn’t have much of a passing attack, but if you study him over the last couple of years, the improvement that he’s made, bulking up 20 pounds and still having the quickness and explosiveness, it’s really impressive. I love his effort as a blocker…He’s not afraid to be scrappy with some of the bigger defensive ends that he goes up against. But ultimately what he does best, he separates from man-to-man coverage.”


Adams came to the Giants as a better blocker than receiver out of college, but coaches and scouts did like his ability to stretch the seam. That’s where they see his upside in putting stress on defenses.


“We certainly feel that he has traits that we can develop into a good in-line player,” said coach Ben McAdoo, a former tight ends coach with the Packers. “He also has good speed down the middle of the field, he’s a big target. He has a unique skillset that we like for the position.”


While he takes pride in putting his hand in the dirt and blocking, Adams also knows that special teams will get his foot in the door as a late-round draft pick. He learned that at South Carolina, where he volunteered to play on special teams.

“Special teams plays a big part on the team,” Adams said. “Special teams sometimes determines whether you win a game or lose a game.”


As OTAs progressed, Adams heard his number called more and more and caught a few touchdowns. It’ll make for an interesting competition this summer as Larry Donnell is the only returning tight end who made the initial 53-man roster last September. Will Tye had to take the practice squad route and was promoted in October. The Stony Brook product went on to lead all rookie tight ends in receptions (42) and receiving yards (464). Meanwhile, Matt LaCosse, the undrafted Illinois product who played in the final two games last season, will compete for a roster spot. The same goes for Ryan Malleck, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Virginia Tech.

“The more versatile our tight ends can be, that really helps our offense, whether they’re able to stretch the field vertically and do things in the passing game,” offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said. “I would love for them to be able to move around and be smart enough to know where to insert and fit in the run game, and certainly pass protection is a big part of that.”