Giants ‘Will Check in’ on Free Agent WR Who Played for Brian Daboll

Brian Daboll

Getty The New York Giants "will check in" on a free agent who's played for head coach Brian Daboll.

Brian Daboll has to be happy about the steps the New York Giants have taken to bolster their passing game so far during free agency. Big Blue’s head coach has seen general manager Joe Schoen trade for Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller and sign wide receiver Parris Campbell, but there may be room for another new pass-catcher, one who played for Daboll in the past.

Isaiah McKenzie was released by the Buffalo Bills on Friday, March 17, and’s Art Stapleton quickly confirmed the “Giants will check in” on Daboll’s former protege:

The connection here is obvious, since Daboll coached McKenzie across four years spent as the Bills’ offensive coordinator. Their working relationship helped showcase McKenzie’s versatility and ability to make plays in both the run and passing games.

Familiar Free Agent One to Watch for Giants

Daboll was never afraid to use McKenzie as a runner, as well as a receiver. He totalled 37 rushing attempts and three touchdowns on the ground during Daboll’s tenure, including this one against the New York Jets in 2021:

The misdirection in this play design would work wonders for the Giants with Pro-Bowler Saquon Barkley in the backfield, coupled with the rushing threat of quarterback Daniel Jones. Speaking of Jones, he needs more targets to help him develop as a passer and justify the four-year deal worth $160 million the Giants handed him this offseason.

Jones enjoyed a breakout season in 2022 largely because Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka protected him with schemed throws. They crafted short-range passes designed for efficiency and to quickly get the ball out of Jones’ hands.

McKenzie would add another layer of unpredictability to this schematic blueprint because Daboll also used him in creative ways in the Bills’ passing game. One of the best examples was this touchdown grab that fooled the San Francisco 49ers in 2020:

Signing McKenzie would give the Giants a gadget player Daboll and Kafka can use in multiple ways to catch defenses cold. That’s the upside to Daboll reuniting with a familiar face.

The downside is McKenzie’s lack of elite numbers, along with his similarity to the physical profile of many of the wideouts already on the Giants’ roster.

Giants Have Many Wide Receivers With a Similar Profile

McKenzie is 5-foot-8 and 173 pounds, so he’d be just another diminutive receiver in Daboll’s offense. Aside from acquiring 6’0″ Campbell, the Giants re-signed Sterling Shepard, who stands 5-foot-10, while second-year man Wan’Dale Robinson is 5-foot-8.

Returning duo Darius Slayton and Isaiah Hodgins offer taller targets, but the general lack of height needn’t be a problem for the Giants. Not when Daboll served as wide receivers coach for the New England Patriots from 2002 to 2006.

During his time with the Pats, Daboll often coached smaller, more elusive receivers like Troy Brown, David Patten and Deion Branch. The question is do the 2023 Giants already have enough short, slight and speedy receivers?

Whatever the answer, the bigger concern might be McKenzie’s modest statistics. He had his best season in 2022, once Ken Dorsey had replaced Daboll as Buffalo’s OC, but McKenzie’s career year still yielded just 42 catches and 423 yards.

A low-cost, short-term contract for McKenzie wouldn’t harm the Giants’ salary cap situation, but it might be better to leave a slot free for one of the top wide receivers available in the 2023 NFL draft.

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