Giants 2023 Position Breakdown: Can Darren Waller return to Pro Bowl form?

Darren Waller
Darren Waller / USA TODAY Sports/SNY treated image

The Giants head into the 2023 season looking to build momentum off of last year's playoff run. Pieces have been added via free agency and the draft, but are the Giants ready to take that next step towards becoming a Super Bowl contender?

Let's take a look at how the Giants are shaping up at each position, focusing this time on the tight ends...

TE Projected Depth Chart

Starter: Darren Waller

Key Reserves: Daniel Bellinger, Lawrence Cager, Tommy Sweeney

Practice squad/roster bubble: Dre Miller, Ryan Jones


Tight ends were an afterthought in the 2022 Giants offense. Daniel Bellinger led the group with 30 catches for 268 yards and a couple touchdowns, but overall, tight ends just weren't expected to be key contributors in the passing game.

That should all change with the addition of Darren Waller, acquired in a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders. Waller, 30, had two incredibly productive seasons in 2019-20, hauling in a combined 197 passes for 2,341 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Without question, Waller brings a big-play and red zone element to the tight end group that the Giants haven't had since Evan Engram left in free agency after the 2021 season.

Waller and Bellinger should provide a nice one-two punch for the Giants this season, but there is one big question with the group...

Key Concern: Can Darren Waller stay on the field?

When he's on the field, Waller is a difference-maker. But keeping him on the field has been an issue the last couple of seasons.

Injuries have limited his production and kept him off the field for a good amount of the last two seasons, as he's only suited up for 20 total games and has been held to five total TDs. And with the Giants having some big question marks at the wide receiver spot, Waller might ended up being relied upon as Daniel Jones' go-to target.

You'll hear coaches say that the best ability is availability, and keeping Waller healthy could be a key factor in what the Giants can accomplish in 2023.

Daniel Bellinger
Daniel Bellinger / Jeremy Reper - USA TODAY Sports

X-Factor: Daniel Bellinger

A fourth-round pick out of San Diego State last season, Bellinger ended up seeing the field a lot as a rookie. He was on the field for 72 percent of the Giants' offensive snaps, but he was only targeted 35 times as a receiver.

Bellinger does a lot of the dirty work as a run blocker and in pass protection, but if he can really establish himself as a reliable pass-catcher, he could take his game to the next level in his second NFL season.

Biggest Camp Battle: Lawrence Cager vs. Tommy Sweeney

The battle for the third tight end spot might not be the sexiest, but again, with Waller's health being a factor in each of the past two seasons, the Giants need to make sure they have adequate depth behind him.

Cager, a converted wide receiver, had 13 catches for 118 yards and a touchdown in limited time with Big Blue last season, and his upside might give him the edge. Sweeney, a Don Bosco Prep product, is basically a non-factor as a receiver, but his blocking ability might make him the better fit in Daboll's scheme.

2023 Outlook

If Waller can fight off the injury bug, he'll make the tight end position much more of a threat than it was for the Giants last season. If he can return to that 90-catch playmaker he was in 2019 and 2020, it will open up so many things for Big Blue's offense.

Bellinger is solid as a No. 2 option, especially as an in-line blocker, and there are some interesting names on the rest of the depth chart, but everything will revolve around what Waller can bring to the field in his first season with the team.