While much attention will be on the new additions at receiver for the New York Giants, the tight end group, which, other than adding Kyle Rudolph in free agency, certainty can't be forgotten.
But certainly, its underwhelming 2020 performance can. Evan Engram, Levine Toilolo, and Kaden Smith accounted for one receiving touchdown, that by Engram, ten dropped passes and six interceptions on pass targets to them.
What continues to amaze is that Evan Engram, who has now been in three different systems, has yet to find an offensive coordinator who can optimize what he does well.
Instead, last year Jason Garrett called for the shorter stick routes and routes that had Engram coming back to the ball, which was a problem (and where the majority of Engram's concentration drops occurred).
The other thing the coaches seem to insist upon is having Engram block players who outweigh him by 30+ pounds. While it's understandable that you can't shy away from asking Engram to block a bigger man, at the very least, there should be some double teams thrown in there to help him from being steamrolled by a larger opponent.
The addition of Rudolph should help this group significantly. Rudolph will be coming off foot surgery, and the hope is he'll be ready to go by Week 1. Rudolph is a much more reliable blocker able to handle the bigger opponents.
He's also a stellar red zone threat--83.3 percent of his touchdown receptions (40 out of 48) have come inside the opponent's 20-yard line. That stat alone should be like manna from heaven, considering the Giants managed just 19 red zone touchdowns (rushing and receiving) last season.
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If the Giants go with three tight ends--a good bet now that the Giants have the tale to run more 3- and 4-wide receiver sets--the third spot will probably come down to one of Levine Toilolo, who accepted a pay cut to stay, and Kaden Smith.
Tight Ends: Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph, Kaden Smith, Levine Toilolo, Nokia Griffin-Stewart, Rysen John, Nate Weiting, Cole Hikutini
Top Question: Is 2021 the last chance for Evan Engram?
When it comes to the tight end position, there is a split opinion about Evan Engram, who enters his fifth season this year. On the one hand, the camp would just as soon see the team ship Engram and his now guaranteed option year salary of $6.013 million to another team for draft assets.
Then you have the camp who isn’t quite ready to give up on the talent Engram offers—the height, the athleticism, and the other intangibles. Those in that camp believe—or is that hope—that Engram, who, like the rest of the Giants offense returning from last year, will be more at ease in Year 2 of the Jason Garrett-led offense and that issues such as the concentration drops he had last year will dissipate.
So what can we expect from Engram, who per Pro football focus has caught 63.9% of his pass targets but who has yet to crack 750 yards receiving in a season and who recorded a career-low one touchdown catch in 2020?
If healthy, the expectation is he will be a big part of the offense, along with Kyle Rudolph, whom the team acquired in free agency. But time is starting to run out on Engram and his long-term potential for this team.
Simply put, Engram needs to give this team more than one receiving touchdown in the upcoming season. He needs to get his dropped passes, which rose from three in each of the last two years to eight last year, under control.
And he needs to show more reliability in running routes, as last year he was the intended target on six of quarterback Daniel Jones’ 10 interceptions thrown.
The talent is there. The scheme seems to be in place. If Engram can finally put it all together, the sky will be the limit.