With the New York Giants making several additions on both sides of the ball, it’s safe to say some of them will have a fresh opportunity to capture their potential and rise to the occasion. Several players that struggled with their previous teams were wide receiver Cody Lattimer, linebacker Alec Ogletree, outside linebacker Kareem Martin, defensive end Josh Mauro, and cornerback William Gay. All have solid potential, but extracting it will be the challenge for the Giants.
Here are the top three players for the New York Giants that could breakout in 2018:
WR Cody Lattimer:
When you think of a “breakout” year, you probably imagine incredible statistical and massive amounts of touchdowns. Well, that’s not the case for Lattimer. He will be an influential player in more than just one way, especially considering his speed and blocking abilities. Cody was a second-round pick by the Broncos in 2014, and has never been the focal point of an offense or worked with a quarterback that gave him the opportunity he craves.
Eli Manning will likely be that man for Lattimer, as he’s set to take on Roger Lewis for the third receiver spot, which would give him more reps and chances to succeed on the field. The departure of Brandon Marshall left a void on the opposite side of Odell Beckham Jr., and Lattimer can fill it. Marshall is known for his blocking in the run-game and tenacity when facing press-coverage. Cody will provide something similar, as he’s stellar in run-blocking and has the speed to shift the safety over leaving Beckham in man-coverage.
He also has the ability to contribute on special teams, which could be a possibility with the Giants lacking a true return man. Lattimer will play a well-rounded role on the team, which will result in a breakout year for the veteran receiver.
TE Evan Engram:
While some might think that Engram broke out in 2017, I disagree. In his rookie year, Engram dropped eight passes and made some obvious mistakes. With the injuries to Beckham, Marshall, and Shepard, the young tight end was left to fend for himself and run the offense. He was a common target for Manning and was overused to a certain degree. On the bright side, he received essential developmental time, which will only benefit him in the seasons to come.
In 2018, Engram will solidify himself as a top five tight end in the league, as he will be a serious threat alongside Saquon Barkley and Beckham. He finished last season with 722 yards and six touchdowns. Averaging 11.3 yards per receptions is quite high, but given his speed it’s not surprising. We should expect to see him play an unpredictable role – running seam routes and short post routes. He will be Manning’s outlet along with Barkley, making it impossible to truly contain the Giants’ weapons.
— PFF NY Giants (@PFF_Giants) June 30, 2018
There’s no doubt that Engram saw an uptick in attempted passes after Beckham went down with a broken ankle, and it would be ignorant to believe he will maintain the same consistency when he’s healthy. That fact only forces Engram to expand his skill-set and help contribute in other ways, one of which is blocking.
Engram is a willing blocker with the mentality to do whatever is asked of him. He has the ability to lay his body into linebackers, but his size is worrisome. It’s difficult to add weight and still maintain your speed, but it is something that must be sacrificed given the addition of Barkley and an unproven offensive line.
Overall, Engram is primed for a bounce-back season after suffering through growing pains in 2017. Expect him to play a big role on a rejuvenated Giants offense.
RT Ereck Flowers:
This is an optimistic pick, but there are some reasons that make sense in regard to Flowers having a solid season in 2018. The Giants’ former left tackle has been the epitome of bad on an offensive line that forced Manning to get rid of the ball in record time.
Flowers’ strong side is his right, and forcing him to utilize his left leg to hold back incoming edge rushers was never a good idea. Switching to right tackle will allow him to utilize his strong-side and hold his ground with naturally better right foot. In addition, he will have more confidence since Manning will be able to feel the pressure coming from the right side rather than his blind left side.
Making the transition to right tackle is not easy, as I’ve heard it’s like trying to brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. That fact alone doesn’t give much hope in his future success, but I wouldn’t write him off just yet.
“I see him improving and I see a guy that enjoys training and he has fit in well with the new players on the offensive line and he obviously has a relationship with the guys from a year ago,” Shurmur said this week. “I know he’s a tough guy and he’s out there doing what we ask him to do and he’s improving.”
Flowers has been considered an outcast despite being a veteran player on the Giants. He hasn’t been welcomed comfortably, and the media has consistently taken shots at the young tackle. He will look to regain his confidence and take advantage of a second-life in the NFL.