With Mark Herzlich taking snaps at tight end for the New York Giants, the difficulty of assessing the position raises a few notches.
The New York Giants are giving Mark Herzlich reps at tight end this year. While having players that are versatile is normally a good thing, the Giants are shooting themselves in the foot here, at least during training camp.
First of all, full credit to Herzlich for being a team guy. The team asked him to take reps at TE after playing linebacker for years, and he had no hesitations in saying yes. So this is in no way meant to rip him, as he’s being a team-first player and doing what the Giants asked.
However, given the team’s roster situation, they are making a mistake. They already have five tight ends on the training camp roster (Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, Jerrell Adams, Will Tye, and Matt LaCosse), and rotating them all in and out is difficult to do. Adding a sixth player to that mix just complicates matters more.
While this may not seem like a big deal, the reality is that the Giants need as many reps as they can for those five players. Engram and Ellison need to take as many snaps as they can. Engram is a rookie getting accustomed to the NFL, and Ellison is a new signing looking to get familiar with the offense. Both of those players are locks to make the roster, as Engram was a first round pick, and Ellison was given a four-year contract.
That leaves limited snaps for Tye, Adams and LaCosse. The problem is that the Giants only have one roster spot (possibly two, as they could carry a fourth tight end since Ellison can double as a fullback) for the three players, all of whom the team likes (if Herzlich makes the team it will be as a linebacker rather than as a tight end).
With three players competing for one or two spots, the team should want those three players getting as many reps as they can fit in so that they have as much of an opportunity to see what they have. Herzlich taking reps at tight end gives the other three fewer opportunities, giving the Giants fewer reps to see, and less plays to decide which of the players are worth keeping.
Another piece of this puzzle to consider is that Herzlich hasn’t looked great at tight end. According to ESNY’s own Giants (and Knicks) staff writer Robbie Stratakos (@RPStratakos on Twitter), “I’ve been watching him the last couple of days at training camp and while he’s always been a high motor, determined guy, I just see this guy as a linebacker.”
If he’s looking stronger at linebacker than at tight end, that only adds to the point that putting him out there is wasting time and reps. Getting a better look at players that are on the bubble due to the depth at the position is a more important than having Herzlich ready to take snaps at tight end when he probably will never be asked to do that in a game and is better suited at a different position.
Adding versatility to the roster is never a bad decision, and giving Herzlich reps in OTAs or in practice during the season is fine. But during camp when the position is overcrowded and the team needs to decide who is going to make the roster, every rep is crucial. The team should be saving Herzlich’s reps at tight end for the players who they are evaluating to make the roster at tight end.