When the New York Giants selected Miami tight end Jeremy Shockey with the 14th overall selection in the 2002 NFL draft, general manager Ernie Accorsi explained why he took the 6-foot-5 future All-Pro.
“I didn’t pick him because we needed a tight end,” Accorsi said. “I picked him because he’s a playmaker.”
That’s exactly what current general manager Joe Schoen did when he sent a third-round pick in this year’s draft to the Las Vegas Raiders for tight end Darren Waller.
“He’s a pretty unique player, I would say,” said Giants head coach Brian Daboll. “We’ve just got to get him into the building and start working with him in terms of learning our stuff. But he’s a talented player.”
Waller is 6-foot-6 but has the attributes of a wide receiver. Daboll plans on using Waller in a myriad of roles on the offense just as the Raiders did several seasons ago when Waller logged in consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
“They’ve lined him up in different spots,” Daboll said. “He’s worked under different head coaches. I think whatever we feel is best for him and our team, that’s what we’ll try to do. In the springtime, it’s a time to kind of experiment on some things and see what works and see what doesn’t and try to build off that.”
Daboll will have a lot more to work with on offense this season. His wide receiver room has Isaiah Hodgins, Wan’Dale Robinson, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, and Collin Johnson returning this season to go along with free-agent acquisitions Parris Campbell, Jamison Crowder, and Jeff Smith.
In addition, the Giants are fairly deep at tight end with Daniel Bellinger, Lawrence Cager, and Tommy Sweeney behind Waller on the depth chart.
“I think that’s your job as a coaching staff to figure out who you have and move the pieces around and go out there and play with the guys that you have,” Daboll said.
“You can have a lot of different personnel groups that you use throughout the year, some more tight end-based and some more receiver-based. There’s times last year when we used three running backs at a time. So, that’s what all this spring and training camp and all those things will be for. Let’s put everybody out there. Let’s start learning the system together as a group and figure out what we’re doing.”
It will be interesting to see how the Giants line up — and distribute the ball — in the passing game this year.