After three injury-riddled seasons, will New York Giants tight end Evan Engram silence his critics and have his most productive season?
Engram had 44 receptions for 467 yards and three touchdowns in eight games last season. A foot injury that would require surgery cost Engram the last seven games of the season.
As the saying goes, a player’s best ability is their availability. Since Engram has yet to play 16 games in his three NFL seasons, some felt it would be in the best interest of the franchise not to give Engram the fifth-year option and make him a free agent after the 2020 season.
But in late April, general manager Dave Gettleman exercised the fifth-year options on Engram and safety Jabrill Peppers. Giving Engram the option spoke volumes of the confidence that Gettleman has in the 25-year-old tight end.
After all, it wasn’t Gettleman who drafted Engram 23th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. That man was former GM Jerry Reese and Engram was his final first-round pick. Considering Gettleman has parted ways with almost every player Reese acquired, his confidence should not be overlooked.
In his three seasons with Big Blue, Engram has 153 receptions for 1,766 yards and 12 touchdowns. There’s no denying Engram is a dynamic playmaker and a top-five pass-catching tight end in the NFL. He demonstrated this in Week 3 of last year against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when he caught a short pass from Daniel Jones and turned it into a 75-yard touchdown in the Giants 32-31 come from behind victory.
However, Engram has yet to live up to being a first-round draft pick as he’s missed 14 games in three seasons. His below-average blocking is another issue.
Nobody can foresee injuries, but it’s time for Engram to find a way to stay healthy. If he can stay on the field, he’ll play a more prominent in the offense this season than he ever has before.
New offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has a tendency to get his tight ends involved in the offense. He loves to go to his tight ends in the red zone and if Engram is on the field, he should be a top target for Jones when it counts. If all goes well in Garrett’s tight-end friendly system, Engram will set a new career-high in touchdown receptions.
Engram is by far the Giants’ most dynamic pass catcher and is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. When the Giants need a big play in the passing game, Jones will look to Engram often.
In addition to having a bigger role in the passing offense, more will be asked of Engram in run blocking which is the weakest part of his game. But as a competitor and wanting to prove that the Giants were right in giving him the fifth-year option, you can assure that he’ll do what it takes to become a better blocker.
Unless the COVID-19 pandemic prevents the NFL season from happening, everything is in place for Engram to have his best season to date. The question is can he finally play a full 16 game schedule and reach his full potential?