New York Giants 2024 Training Camp Preview: TE Theo Johnson

With the retirement of Darren Waller, can Johnson slide into a prominent offensive role as a rookie?
East Rutherford , NJ — May 10, 2024 -- Fourth round draft pick Theo Johnson as the NY Giants hold their Rookie Camp and introduce their new draft picks.
East Rutherford , NJ — May 10, 2024 -- Fourth round draft pick Theo Johnson as the NY Giants hold their Rookie Camp and introduce their new draft picks. / Chris Pedota, / USA

Although the retirement of tight end Darren Waller was expected, it still leaves a hole that needs to be filled in the New York Giants offense. This means that rookie  Theo Johnson, the team’s fourth-round draft pick this year, may need to be a contributor immediately. 

Daniel Bellinger should slide into the TE1 role as we saw improved receiving skills from him over the back half of last season. That means Johnson has a good chance to fit in at TE2. 

His size and athleticism remind one of Waller and he may have a denser physical frame than the recent retiree. Outside of the 40-yard dash where Waller was a full tenth of a second faster, Johnson either performed better or similarly in his combine testing. 

The Achilles heel for all the tight ends last season was run blocking and that forced the Giants to begin using offensive linemen at the position to get more effective blocking. 

In the off-season, the team signed two run-blocking tight ends (Jack Stoll and Chris Manhertz) to improve in that area. Based on his Penn State film, Johnson is probably not going to help in that department. 

Johnson seems to lack the technique and the aggressiveness needed to be a good in-line blocker. He does not strike or bring his hips the way you need to in order to maintain a block and it will not get any easier at this level where the defensive linemen are bigger, stronger, faster, and more dynamic.  

He will certainly need to improve on this because it will cost him snaps and make him less effective in the play-action passing game.

Johnson is an intriguing new weapon for the Giants but it will be difficult to gauge what type of impact he can have in his rookie season until he is in pads during training camp. His physicality needs to rise to the level of his physique, and if so, he could be an immediate, legitimate weapon for the Giants.


Height: 6-6
Weight: 264 lbs.
Exp: R
School: Penn State
How Acquired: D4-24

2023 in Review

Johnson started his 2023 by being named a team captain for the Nittany Lions. He was also named to the preseason Mackey Award watch list and Senior Bowl watch list. 

He started all 13 games and helped Penn State to a 10-3 record and a trip to the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. He was a midseason Mackey Award semifinalist.

He finished the season with 34 receptions for 341 yards. He averaged a first down every catch. That's significant production for a tight end in an offense that did not prioritize passing. 

The most impressive thing was that he hauled in seven passing touchdowns.  That means he was responsible for a score every seven passes. 

The Windsor, Ontario native was named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention by the coaches and media. After the season Johnson had a standout week at the Senior Bowl. 

In addition to his impressive height and weight, he has 10-inch hands and a wingspan of over 81 inches. He was smooth in drills and showed the ability to push vertically and a ridiculous catch radius. 

At the NFL Combine, he continued to show elite athleticism for a man his size. He ran a 4.57 40-yard dash, produced a 39.5” vertical and a 10’5” broad jump, and showed an impressive change of direction in the 3-cone drill (7.15) and the 20-yard shuttle (4.19). 

The projection was that he could be more impactful as a pro than he was as a collegiate.

Contract/Cap Info

Johnson signed a four-year, $4.85 million contract that includes a $831,436 signing bonus and $831,436 guaranteed. He counts for an average annual salary of $1.21 million. 

In 2024, Johnson will earn a base salary of $795,000 and a signing bonus of $831,436, while carrying a cap hit of $1,002,859 and a dead cap value of $831,436.

2024 Preview

The start of training camp should be a little rough for Johnson as he recalibrates to NFL-level physicality. He should get accustomed to the speed of the game much more quickly because he is an excellent athlete. 

While he works on improving his run-blocking deficiencies, he will need to show that he can continue to be the automatic first-down runner he was in college and when Waller was with the Giants. 

The Giants' starting linebackers and safeties should provide the opportunity to show the coaching staff that he can be an effective pass catcher against high-quality NFL talent. 

The added weapons should make it easier for him to operate. Improved pass blocking should also give the quarterback more time to operate.

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Gene Clemons


Gene "Coach" Clemons has been involved with the game of football for 30 years as a player, coach, evaluator, and journalist.  Clemons has spent time writing for the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, Bridgton News, Urbana Daily Citizen, Macon Telegraph and  He has a YouTube channel called "Coach Gene Clemons" where you can find his popular "X&O The Joes" series as well as other football related content.