Breaking Down New York Giants' 5 Biggest Training Camp Projects
Training camp is a time for experimentation.
The New York Giants have several players on the roster whose 2014 impacts are still up in the air. These players will be analyzed in multiple positions/roles in order to milk the most production from them.
They are referred to as projects. It is the duty of the coaching staff to maximize the potential of each player. All the players can do is provide their utmost performance wherever they are placed on the field.
Some projects will be successful; others will fail.
Read about New York's five biggest training camp projects here.
TE Adrien Robinson
Adrien Robinson is not the front-runner for the Giants' starting tight end job, though he should be.
After he was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft, Robinson was heavily touted for his athletic ability. The University of Cincinnati product had minimal experience with only 29 collegiate receptions, though, making him a bit of a project for the coaching staff.
The Giants are now in year three of the Robinson project, and little progress has been made. In his first two seasons, the raw tight end appeared in just three games. A sprained foot sidelined him throughout the 2013 season, and his weight ballooned to 285 pounds.
Although Robinson sees 2014 as a potential breakout season, that mentality has not yet translated to his play on the field. During spring workouts, Robinson could not break away from the mediocre cast of tight ends New York has assembled, according to Jordan Raanan of NJ.com.
Heading into training camp, the Giants are now toying with the idea of a tight end committee rather than a true starter.
However, it's still too soon to give up on the Robinson project. For it to be successful, Robinson must stay healthy and show a higher degree of professionalism this summer. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin did praise Robinson's mental progression earlier this offseason, so the 25-year-old might not be that far from making the leap.
This will be a particularly challenging project for the Giants. First-year tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride, son of recently retired offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, has inherited the Robinson project from his celebrated predecessor, Mike Pope, who made next to nothing of it.
DE Damontre Moore
The Giants' biggest challenge when it comes to their pass rush is to effectively tap the talent of Damontre Moore.
Moore is entering his second professional season after being selected in the third round of the 2013 NFL draft. Before the Giants, Moore dominated the SEC at Texas A&M by making a habit of disrupting the offensive backfield.
As a rookie, Moore made only nine tackles. He did flash potential, however, as a punt-rusher, blocking one against the Oakland Raiders that was recovered for a touchdown. It is now on the Giants coaching staff to translate that ability into pass-rushing prowess.
The biggest factor playing into the Moore project will be finding a home for him. Last year, New York tried to groom him into a linebacker-defensive end hybrid so he could rush from either a two- or three-point stance. He may or may not play a more conventional role in 2014.
At 250 pounds, Moore doesn't have the ideal frame or run-defending ability to become Justin Tuck's replacement on the strong side of the formation. He is better-suited to rush from the blind side, where Jason Pierre-Paul has called home since 2011.
If Moore fails to catch on at a starting position, he will be reduced to a situational rusher.
The idea of placing Moore all over the field, allowing him to rush from multiple positions, is enticing but isn't entirely realistic. Scouts knocked both his character and athleticism coming out of college, making his potential to both learn and excel in multiple positions in only his second year minimal.
Complicating the project slightly is a shoulder surgery Moore underwent after the 2013 season.
WR Corey Washington
Every undrafted rookie is a project, but Corey Washington is one to keep an eye on at wide receiver.
Washington is a Newberry College (Division II) product and a large one at that. He stands 6'4", making him the tallest receiver on the Giants' current roster. If he can overcome the odds and make the team, Washington's height will make him an easy target to find.
The intensity of an NFL training camp will likely shock a small-school product like Washington. The key to making this project a successful one will be to facilitate Washington's transition to the professional ranks as much as possible.
Washington must prove that he can amount to more than just a camp body. The measurements he recorded at his pro day indicate that it's a real possibility. His height is supplemented by a 33" vertical leap. His explosiveness is evidenced by a 10'5" broad jump and a sub-4.5-second 40-yard dash.
An area of the game in which Washington can thrive is in the red-zone, where his large frame and extended range are perfect for hauling in touchdowns. The long-term purpose of the Washington project may be to develop New York's next big scoring threat at wide receiver.
LB Devon Kennard
Fifth-round draft choice Devon Kennard is primed to make an impact as a rookie.
No fifth-rounder, however, is NFL-ready during his first training camp as a professional. Kennard's summer should be a crash course, as the Giants need him on the field as soon as possible with starting middle linebacker Jon Beason (foot) out until at least the start of the regular season.
The Kennard project features an oversized linebacker (6'3", 251 lbs) from USC, and the Giants must quickly figure out what to do with all that girth. Right now, he appears able to start on the strong side while former Baltimore Raven Jameel McClain fills in for Beason in the middle.
But when Beason returns, the linebackers will be reshuffled, and Kennard may be forced out of his starting role.
The Giants must prepare ahead of time for this eventual certainty. Kennard should be briefed on as many positions as possible so he can contribute within the Giants defense in varying capacities, depending on where—and how much—he is needed.
Even if he is shoved out of starting "Sam" duties, Kennard can become a valuable reserve if he is well-versed in all three linebacker positions in the Giants' 4-3 base defense. He has pass-rush experience from his time in college, so perhaps he gets involved as a blitzer or on the defensive line.
The possibilities are nearly boundless.
At the very least, the Kennard project will yield a standout special teamer.
RB David Wilson
The Giants thought they knew what they had in David Wilson. Then, the running back was diagnosed with spinal stenosis—a career-threatening condition—and underwent the subsequent surgery to fuse the vertebrae of his spine.
Suddenly, everything to do with the Wilson project was flipped on its head.
Wilson is likely out of the running for the starting job. Rashad Jennings was added in free agency, and he and fourth-round draft pick Andre Williams fit the mold more so than Wilson for the power-running game New York wishes to feature in 2014.
The crux of this project will be to find a valuable use for Wilson. He is a former first-round pick and is only 23 years old; the Giants can't allow that type of investment to rot on the bench as a reserve.
If healthy, as he's expected to be, Wilson must be involved in the offense in some capacity.
Even if he is no longer the starter, Wilson can still be a dynamic playmaker off the bench. Wilson and Jennings have opposite playing styles, making them potential complementary backs. Wilson's electricity is the perfect change-of-pace for Jennings' pound-it-out approach.
Wilson can also pick up where he left off as a second-team All-Pro kick returner during his rookie season.
The goal of the Wilson project will be to create ways to get him the ball in space 10-15 times per game.
*All statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com.