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Fact or Fiction: Need for dynamic tight ends; most intriguing addition


The crew is presented with four statements and must decide whether they are Fact or Fiction.

An elite offense must have a dynamic tight end in today's NFL.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – It's not a necessity, but it certainly helps. Special tight ends provide unique matchup problems for defenses when they choose their personnel groups and formations. Travis Kelce lines up next to an offensive tackle, but he runs routes like a wide receiver. If you put a cornerback there, then they can run the ball at the cornerback. Linebackers and safeties aren't fast enough to cover him. The Dolphins, for example, had an elite offense when Tua Tagovailoa was healthy last season, and they barely used their tight end. Dawson Knox is a good player, but I wouldn't put him in the elite category for a Bills offense that was excellent. A dynamic weapon (or two) at wide receiver or tight end IS a "must" if an offense wants to be elite. The Giants hope they have that in Darren Waller.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Elite offenses pose mismatches, convert on third down, and score touchdowns in the red zone. You can check all those boxes in one fell swoop with a dynamic tight end.

Lance Medow: Fiction – If you look at the top 10 scoring offenses in 2022, you'll find mixed results. Some teams such as the Chiefs, 49ers and Vikings showcase elite tight ends with Travis Kelce, George Kittle and T.J. Hockenson, respectively. But other franchises have solid players who aren't necessarily the centerpieces of their respective offenses. Case in point, the Bills lean on Dawson Knox, who finished tied for third on the team in receptions and third in receiving yards. Hayden Hurst was fifth in both of those categories for the Bengals, and the Seahawks mixed and matched at that position depending on the opponent and strategy. Same can be said for the Lions after they traded Hockenson to the Vikings. Is it beneficial to have an elite tight end? Absolutely, but I would say it's a luxury and not a necessity depending on how you run your scheme.

Matt Citak: Fact – When looking at the four teams that ended up in the NFC and AFC Championship Games, three of the offenses feature top tight ends – Kansas City's Travis Kelce, Philadelphia's Dallas Goedert and San Francisco's George Kittle. The only one of the four that didn't have a dynamic tight end, the Cincinnati Bengals, boast perhaps the league's best wide receiver group (Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd). As it pertains to the Giants, the acquisition of Darren Waller should not only create mismatches in the passing game, but it should also open things up for everyone else in the offense. Acquiring a dynamic tight end is a great step towards creating an elite offense.

Linebacker Bobby Okereke was the most intriguing addition in the first wave of free agency.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – There's that word "intriguing" again. Okereke is probably the most important signing, but I'm not sure it is intriguing. We know what he is: long, fast, good against the run, and capable of covering down the field. How Wink uses him might be borderline intriguing. Parris Campbell intrigues me more. He ran a 4.31 and looks as fast as ever. Can Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka figure out a way to unlock a receiver with unlimited physical gifts but only one year of production and not a lot of experience playing outside the slot? The Giants' offensive minds are very creative, and I am quite intrigued as to how they will find ways to get him the football.

Dan Salomone: Fact – He's a Stanford grad and Eagle Scout who once performed at Carnegie Hall with his high school choir and interned for Condoleezza Rice. He's pretty intriguing.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Bobby Okereke is right up there given his ability to run sideline to sideline and play all three downs, but I'll go with his former Colts teammate, Parris Campbell. It's never been a question of talent with the latter; it's simply been a question of staying on the field because of various freak injuries. Last season, we got a flash of what he's capable of producing as he suited up for all 17 games and had a career year. Campbell has the speed to stretch the field and the one area the Giants could use a boost in is explosive plays. That's exactly where he enters the equation.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Bobby Okereke is likely the most impactful addition in the first wave of free agency, as it is no secret that the Giants' run defense struggled mightily last season. Okereke's 283 total tackles over the last two seasons rank among the leaders in the NFL, and the addition of the linebacker provides Wink Martindale with an anchor in the middle of the defense. However, the most intriguing addition has to be wide receiver Parris Campbell. The former second-round pick ran an amazing 4.31 40-yard dash at the 2019 NFL Combine, and is still only 25 years old. If Campbell can stay healthy (he played in all 17 games last year after totaling 15 games in his first three seasons), his speed could add a unique aspect to the Giants' offense.

View photos of every move made by the Giants during the 2023 cycle.

The Giants' moves in free agency will greatly affect their draft plans.

John Schmeelk: Fact – I would usually answer fiction to a question like this because I am a strong believer in not letting your current roster dictate whom you draft. Select the best player for your team. This year, however, the addition of Bobby Okereke probably takes linebacker off the radar in the first round, which I would consider significant. Adding Nunez-Roches would also probably take an interior defensive lineman off the board in round one, though one later in the draft would certainly be possible. I would consider that "greatly" in the context of the NFL Draft. Center, cornerback and wide receiver all remain needs.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – The two aren't mutually exclusive. Teams don't go into free agency with blinders on. They operate free agency with the draft in mind as roster-building is a year-round process.

Lance Medow: Fiction – When it comes to the draft, you can't just think about 2023; you have to take the length of the rookie deal into consideration. Your goal isn't just to borrow a player for a season but have him develop within your organization for years to come and, ideally, earn a second contract. Free agency certainly influences draft plans but it shouldn't dictate what positions to address. The last thing any general manager wants to do is be put in a position where he or she needs to fill a specific void on the roster, and you can never have enough depth at any position because you can't predict injuries or potential moves in free agency down the road. Just look at 2022. The Giants signed defensive end Jihad Ward yet still selected Kavyon Thibodeaux. They also added three interior offensive lineman in Mark Glowinski, Jon Feliciano and Jamil Douglas but then drafted Josh Ezeudu and Marcus McKethan. On top of that, they selected wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson after signing both Robert Foster and Richie James. Another reason why free agency shouldn't overwhelmingly influence the draft is because you never know how roster cuts will play out, meaning every free agent addition isn't guaranteed to make the team.

Matt Citak: Fiction – I want to go 75 percent fiction on this one, as the addition of Bobby Okereke likely takes linebacker out of the equation for the Giants in the first round or two of next month's draft. But for the most part, the team's moves over the last 10 days should not affect their draft plans that much. Despite signing Parris Campbell and Jeff Smith and bringing back Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard, wide receiver is still fully in play for the Giants on Day 1. Other than Okereke, almost all of the deals the Giants handed out are reportedly one or two-year deals, meaning it shouldn't prevent them from still addressing those positions in the draft for more long-term answers if they so choose.

One month out, your best guess as to what position the Giants draft first is wide receiver.

John Schmeelk: Fact – I started writing "fiction" and began to explain why I think a cornerback is more likely, but I still think the main goal of this front office this offseason is to put as much around Daniel Jones as possible to help him succeed. I could easily see them pass on a wide receiver and select one on Day 2, but I think it is more likely one of the top wide receivers gets to 25 than one of the top cornerbacks. I'm also not sure interior offensive line is a premium enough position to warrant selecting at 25. The Giants have done a good job addressing need in free agency, but there are still spots they could use more elite talent at moving forward.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – Ninety percent of mock drafts right now have the Giants taking a wide receiver. So … it's safe to take the field.

Lance Medow: Fiction – We're going with the Fiction sweep this week. When you pick 25th overall, it's far more challenging to narrow down a position because there's so many players that will be off the board by the time New York makes its pick. While I think wide receiver is a strong potential target, the depth at corner is intriguing and if someone rated high on their board is still available at 25, I can see the Giants grabbing him. Although there's some youth at that position on the roster, there's also a few players who have dealt with injuries. The roster could absolutely use another weapon in the defensive backfield.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Wide receiver is certainly up there in the top three positions the Giants are most likely to draft first. However, based on the team's lack of movement at a certain position through the first 10 days of free agency, I'm going to say the Giants will select a cornerback first. The top three cornerbacks (Devon Witherspoon, Christian Gonzalez, Joey Porter Jr.) will likely be gone by the time No. 25 comes around, but other talented prospects such as Deonte Banks and Emmanuel Forbes could still be there.

View photos of the newest members of the Giants touring the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.


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