Giants Sign ‘Taysom Hill 2.0’ After Losing TE to Season-Ending Injury

Giants sign Tommy Stevens, lose Levine Toilolo to season-ending injury

Getty Tommy Stevens #7 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs looks on during the second half of a game against the Tennessee Volunteers.

The majority of the New York Giants’ injury concerns over the last 48 hours or so have revolved around Kenny Golladay and his bum hamstring — and rightfully so. With that said, the team suffered a far more unheralded loss on practice Wednesday, one that could prove to be a devastating blow to Big Blue’s run game and pass protection.

Tight end Levine Toilolo was carted off the field midway through practice and has since been diagnosed with a torn Achilles. Toilolo, 30, is far from your most prolific pass-catching tight end out there, hauling in just five receptions with the Giants in 2020. However, where Toilolo has carved out a career for himself is as a blocker.

Checking in at 6-foot-8-inches and nearly 270 pounds, having Toilolo on the field was like having an extra offensive tackle on the field at times. Pro Football Focus graded the former fourth-round pick as their number one pass-blocking tight end in 2018, netting a mark of 87.0 with the Detroit Lions. His run-blocking grade this past season took a sizeable dip from recent seasons, but he still established himself as the clear-cut preferred blocking option among New York’s tight end group.

Thankfully, the Giants have free-agent signee Kyle Rudolph to pick up the slack in Toilolo’s absence. Of all the players at his position to log at least 200 snaps in 2020, Rudolph graded out as the league’s fifth-best blocker. With that niche seemingly covered, the team opted to take more of a flyer in their corresponding move to Toilolo’s injury, adding a highly intriguing and versatile puzzle piece.

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Giants Sign QB-TE Hybrid Tommy Stevens

On the same day that Toilolo went down, the Giants announced the signings of quarterback/tight end Tommy Stevens and wideout Andy Jones. The former, a seventh-round pick of the New Orleans Saints a season ago, was readily referred to as the “second-coming of Taysom Hill” (via USA Today) last offseason, or in FOX8Live‘s word’s “Taysom Hill 2.0.”

Of course, plenty of that hype had to do with the team he landed with, although Stevens’ college resume and athletic traits certainly added to the mystique.

Stevens, 24, spent the first three seasons of his collegiate career with Penn State, moonlighting at a number of positions from quarterback to running back and wide receiver. In 2019, he opted to transfer to Mississippi State, where he took over a more permanent quarterback gig. In nine games with the Bulldogs, Stevens completed 60.2% of his passes for 1,155 passing yards while tossing 11 touchdowns to five interceptions. He also added 381 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.

Drew Brees Praised Stevens’ Versatility & ‘Desire’

Highlights: What Are The Saints Getting In Tommy Stevens? | Penn State | B1G FootballA look at the top moments from new New Orleans Saints QB Tommy Stevens from his time at Penn State. #PennStateNittanyLions #NCAAFootball SUBSCRIBE to Big Ten Network on YouTube and enable alerts – new highlights and videos uploaded daily: More from Big Ten football/basketball/other sports: Watch live games and replays from Big Ten…2020-05-01T18:10:39Z

Upon arriving in New Orleans, he was converted to tight end. However, as Saints franchise legend Drew Brees highlighted, the plan for Stevens was far more, via Garland Gillen of FOX8Live.

So Tommy’s been great. Talk about a guy who’s just been willing to do whatever we’re asking him to do. I think the vision for him coming in was, obviously, he was a quarterback, but we could put him in this Taysom Hill kind of role where he’s such a big, strong, good athlete, that he could provide this dimension, maybe at the tight end position or this “F” position.

He’s actually embraced that role really well. I know he did a little bit of it in college, but obviously you’re stepping up to a whole other level when you talk about the NFL, but he’s a smart guy. He’s been able to pick it up relatively quickly, just watching him run routes and watching them do certain tight end type things, you actually kind of shake your head and say, ‘it shouldn’t be that comfortable or natural for a guy who hasn’t been doing it very long and certainly going against this level of competition.’ I’ve been impressed mostly just with his desire to do whatever it takes to help the team, to get on the field and to develop as a player.

Despite the high praise from Brees, the Saints opted out of the Stevens project, releasing him from their practice squad in November of last year. Ten days later he reemerged in the NFC South, signing with the Carolina Panthers, who swiftly converted Stevens back to quarterback. The Indiana native played five snaps for the team during the season finale, which fittingly enough was against the Saints. In that contest, Stevens toted the rock four times for 24 yards.

In New York, Stevens has been listed as a tight end, where he’ll look to compete with the likes of Kaden Smith, Nakia Griffen-Stewart and Cole Hikutini for a reserve role behind Engram and Rudolph who are each roster locks. Having said that, don’t be surprised to see the Giants get creative with Stevens during training. As defensive back Julian Love recently noted, head coach Joe Judge “rewards versatility.”


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