Tight end Daniel Bellinger has a rare opportunity heading into his rookie season with the New York Giants. The fourth-round draft pick has been invited and will attend an event called “Tight End University,” according to Tom Rock of Newsday.
Tight End University is a three-day event in Nashville, where the best tight ends from around the NFL work out together and share insight on the position. The event was launched in 2021 by San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle, with the help of retired NFL tight end Greg Olsen and Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.
Bellinger is one of 75 tight ends expected to attend Tight End University from June 22 to 24, according to the Associated Press.
“I just want to learn from them,” Bellinger said about the event, per Newsday. “I have a long way to go but the biggest thing for me is to learn from them. You grow up watching them and then in college you watch them on tape but now getting an opportunity to either just text them or talk to them . . . I can really get an inside perspective.”
Bellinger, who was drafted out of San Diego State, did not have a ton of pass-catching experience in college. He had 68 total receptions for 771 yards and 5 touchdowns in four seasons with the Aztecs.
With the Giants, however, Bellinger projects to play a much larger pass-catching role. He ran “almost exclusively” with the first-team offense in this spring’s Organized Team Activities (OTA) and mandatory minicamp, according to Zach Rosenblatt of NJ.com. With former first-round pick Evan Engram now on the Jacksonville Jaguars, starting quarterback Daniel Jones could lean on Bellinger as his go-to target at tight end this season.
That means Bellinger will have to hit the ground running in training camp. Attending Tight End University will help him do exactly that.
“Basically the whole concept is just bring as many [tight ends] as we can get under one roof and just talk ball, be on the field, watch each other run routes, just ask questions, learn from each other, and then just hang out and get to know each other through,” Kittle said of Tight End University during a recent appearance on the AP Football Podcast (via APnews.com)
Bellinger Is a Blocking Enthusiast
While Bellinger may be a little raw as a receiver, he has plenty of experience and enjoys the blocking aspect of the job.
“A tight end needs to pass block, needs to run block, needs to go out and create space and make himself open so he can catch balls and create opportunities for the offense,” Bellinger said back in May (via Alex Wilson of Empire Sports Media). “That’s not just critical for the Giants, it’s critical for the game overall.”
The Giants haven’t fielded a well-rounded tight end, who can dominate as a blocker while also making plays in the passing game, in quite some time. Engram was more of a pass-catching specialist, who was often replaced in the lineup by better blockers in obvious running situations.
Why Haven’t The Giants Signed Bellinger Yet?
The Giants still haven’t signed three of their 2022 draft picks, and Bellinger is one of them. The others are second-round wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson and fourth-round safety Dane Belton, according to Dan Duggan of The Athletic.
As Mike Garafolo of NFL Network points out, there’s a league-wide hang-up for second- and fourth-round selections to get signed. This is a little unusual, but it’s not an actual cause for concern. The logjam will eventually open up, and the Giants will get Bellinger and the rest of their unsigned rookies under contract before the season.