Engram Needs to Take It Up a Notch
by Michael J. Basile
The Big Blue offense increased it’s talent pool by adding rookie running back Saquon Barkley to an offense that already featured game-breaking players such as Odell Beckham Jr. Combine that with a better offensive line and wide receiver Sterling Shepard and you might just have an opportunity for Evan Engram to fly under the radar.
Engram in his rookie season caught 64 balls for 722 yards and 6 touchdowns on a 3-13 team. This year he will have a new head coach in Pat Shurmer, who is known for making the most out of his offensive weapons. The mismatches created in Shurmer’s offense will surely create new opportunities for the second year tight end. Odell and Saquon are sure to demand the respect of the defense, allowing Engram to get open with rub routes and two tight end sets. Engram is going to be Eli’s target in the middle of the field and most likely he will find himself in many one-on-one scenarios. His speed alone makes him dangerous after the catch, which will cause matchup problems for both linebackers and safeties.
In today’s NFL, you can argue that a dominant TE is just as, if not more important than a top 5 Wide Receiver. Look no further than the Patriots, Redskins, Chiefs, and Panthers for proof. Gronkowski, Kelce, Reed and Olsen are dominating players and Engram could easily join that group with increased production. First and foremost he needs to stop dropping the ball. His opportunities could grow if he showcases he’s a reliable target. With Shurmur already familiar with former Vikings Tight End Rhett Ellison, expect Engram not to be asked to get dirty and block in the trenches. In 2017 Manning didn’t have much to work with…so one could have expected some ups and downs from the rookie.
The tight end position in recent Giants history, however, has been underwhelming to say the least. Since Jeremy Shockey, there have been several players who have had moments, but were ultimately average at best (Boss, Ballard, Bennet, etc.). Now, the Giants have an opportunity to be a big play offense and Engram is primed to breakout as defenses focus on other positions.