Kehl has the look of a prototypical linebacker. A standout in BYU’s 3-4 scheme as an outside pass rusher, he has yet to break through as an NFL player. It can be argued that Kehl’s raw talent was hampered by his landing spot come draft day. Of all the 4-3 defenses to be brought into, the Giants were the worst fit.
It is no secret that the Giants have been carrying at least four top level defensive ends since the 2007 campaign. This year the total grew to five with the addition of Jason Pierre-Paul. For a mid-level draft pick striving to see the field, the opportunities were slim. When other defenses might have dialed up a rush from an extra linebacker, the Giants simply placed another DE in the spot.
His release is still odd considering that the Giants activated him instead of veteran Gerris Wilkinson for Sunday’s game against Carolina. Either Kehl played poorly enough on kick coverage to warrant being dismissed or perhaps parting ways was considered the best option for both parties. Kehl belongs in a 3-4 scheme and is likely to find a fair share of suitors very shortly.
Regardless of the reason, the transaction brings another issue into the spotlight.
In the past, the Giants have tended to give their draft picks (especially the early to mid-round selections) a surplus of chances to prove themselves. Ron Dayne, William Joseph, and Sinorice Moss are examples of players that never truly belonged on the roster but were (or have) been kept on board for several years.
This year, was different. The Giants broke trend by letting 4th year DT Jay Alford walk. Andre Brown, a 2nd year player (but in reality a rookie since he missed all of 2009 due to injury) was also released.
Brown had showed potential as a tough runner with little fear of making contact with defenders. Should Brandon Jacobs be slowed at some point this season, the young player would have provided necessary contrast with Ahmad Bradshaw and DJ Ware’s running styles.
The numbers game beat both players however, causing the Giants to skimp from four running backs to three. Derek Hagan, who arrived in late 2008 was also a surprise casualty. Hagan had developed into a very reliable reserve receiver with height, steady hands, and zero fear of crossing the middle of the field.
Obviously, cuts have to happen. Often, talented players are released league wide because there simply isn’t room for everyone on a team. Some casualties are merely training camp bodies but for every bubble player that was number 54 or 55 on the list there is another player that just barely squeaked in at 53 or 52.
Perhaps this year, the wrong players made the grade.
Kehl’s release was made necessary by the alarming tight end shortage. Normally, when a starter such as Kevin Boss is unable to perform for a period of time, his understudy comes in and performs as admirably as possible.
This year however, the Giants decided to give 2009 draft pick Travis Beckum another season to prove himself. Beckum, a severely undersized utility player, is called a TE by New York. Truly an H-Back and barely big enough to play the role of TE at the college level, Beckum was no match for oncoming defenders on Sunday.
Experimenting with an unorthodox player like Beckum is a luxury reserved for teams who enjoy both great roster depth and positional “wiggle room.” The Giants lost all “wiggle room” when Zak DeOssie was declared to be only a long snapper (not a LB as well) and Domenik Hixon was lost for the season (forcing the organization to bring in a return specialist).
So why are the Giants accommodating a player that spent a great deal of his rookie season and all of training camp injured, but releasing proven players of quality?
Yes Beckum hauled in two catches Sunday. Bear Pascoe (who is now activated and will start Sunday barring an extremely speedy Boss recovery) could have also made two grabs while fulfilling his blocking duties.
On that note, Ramses Barden’s latest dropped pass makes it even harder for fans to rally behind him. While reportedly playing with a severe back injury, Barden has done nothing to prove that he is ready for the NFL. If the injury was severe enough to greatly hamper his play, then why wasn’t he placed on IR to make room for the trusty Hagan or a 4th RB in Andre Brown?
The decisions made by the Giants front office have already been tested. The organization has left themselves zero room for injury at key positions and the lack of depth could be a recurring storyline in 2010.