Under head coach Brian Daboll, the New York Giants made it to the playoffs for the first time since the 2016 season. The Giants certainly did it their way, relying heavily on their young players to step up.
As the season went on, rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger played a crucial role in building the Giants’ offense in 2022. He finished the year with 30 receptions for 268 yards and four offensive touchdowns, with one being in the playoff win over the Minnesota Vikings. The Giants weren’t the only ones that noticed Bellinger’s production.
According to Bob Brookover at NJ.com, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce mentioned Bellinger by name when talking about other tight ends around the NFL.
“There are a few great tight ends out there,” Kelce said. “I don’t know if there are any that remind me of myself, but there are a few guys I’m excited about. Kyle Pitts (of the Atlanta Falcons) being one of them. (Jake) Ferguson down in Dallas and (Daniel) Bellinger over in New York. I’m excited to see how these guys manifest over the next few years and we’ll see where they can take their game.”
Kelce is the NFL’s best tight end, so if he sees something in the Giants rookie that reminds him of himself, that’s high praise.
Comparing Bellinger’s & Kelce’s Rookie Seasons
Coming into the NFL, Kelce was considered a better prospect than Bellinger. The Chiefs selected Kelce in the third round, while the Giants took Bellinger in the fourth.
Unfortunately for Kelce, his rookie season was cut short after dealing with a nagging knee injury that caused him to miss time in 2013 and eventually needed season-ending surgery. As for Bellinger, he started 11 of his 12 games and established a connection with quarterback Daniel Jones.
Even though Bellinger missed time due to an eye injury, he finished 6th receiving yards among rookie tight ends. He also showed versatility as a runner, scoring on an end around against the Green Bay Packers in the London game.
Comparing both Kelce’s rookie season and Bellinger’s is evident the Giant’s rookie is farther along than where Kelce started. If Daboll can grow his role in the offense moving forward, there should be a significant leap into year two.
History Favors Bellinger In Year Two
Coach Daboll was brought to New York for his offensive mind and being creative with the offense. A big part of Daboll’s offense during his time in Buffalo was the use of the tight end. Dawson Knox had a career season under Daboll’s final season with the Bills, hauling in a career-high 49 receptions for 587 yards and nine touchdowns.
The x-factor in Bellinger’s leap is whether or not the Giants bring Daniel Jones back. Continuity is essential for a player’s development and comfort in the offense. Placing just any quarterback in the system if Jones leaves New York doesn’t always work. Just look at Russell Wilson’s first season in Denver.
Fortunately for Bellinger, the organization intends to get a deal done with Jones.
Kelce went over 800 yards on 67 receptions in year two with the Chiefs. If Bellinger can get close to that number with his quarterback returning to lead the offense, the Giant’s rookie will be a featured player for New York in 2023 and validate Kelce’s comparison to himself.