The negativity surrounding the New York Giants wide receiver corps has cast a dark shadow over the team during training camp. However, there’s plenty of positivity to go around — one player that is taking advantage of this opportunity is CJ Conrad from Kentucky. The rookie tight end took first-team offensive reps on Friday and hauled in an impressive catch from Eli Manning.
While he did drop one or two passes from Daniel Jones, he did finish strong connecting with Kyle Lauletta on a pair of touchdowns.
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With Evan Engram returning after struggling with a hamstring issue, the tight end group is full of talent and potential. They currently have Engram, Rhett Ellison, Scott Simonson, and CJ Conrad.
I anticipate Conrad eventually emerging as the number one option given his dual capabilities as a blocker and pass catcher. While on Kentucky, he was a trusted option in the passing game but also influenced the run game as well.
“He’s a tough, competitive guy, and I think those are necessary traits to play our game,” said head coach Pat Shurmur before Saturday’s afternoon workout. “So that’s where you start. He’s a good learner. I would say he’s a notch better blocker than he is a route-runner at this time, which is a good thing. He’s becoming a little bit of a fan favorite out there. He’s made some nice catches in practice. But then he’s also made his mistakes. I like the way he competes, and I think he’s a tough guy. I think he has a bright future.”
The New York Giants should expect a learning curve with CJ Conrad:
Of course, Conrad will endure struggles while he develops. His rookie season will be full of mental mistakes, but the potential he’s shown so far proves that he can be an influential player down the road. As a primary blocker, he can help right away in the run game. Imagine the Giants will still utilize Ellison as the primary blocker in that facet of the offense, but Conrad is a quality back up.
His grit and hustle make up for his lack of quality at the moment, but that is a good thing as he has plenty of time to grow and show that he’s capable of being a starting-caliber player.
My concern, though, is that the Giants will be carrying four tight ends if they elect to keep Conrad on the final 53 man roster, and that seems like a waste of a roster allocation. However, letting a player of his potential go is inadvisable.