New York Giants: Second Half Individual Breakout Candidates

New York Giants, Evan Engram

Despite the New York Giants sitting at a lowly 1-7 record, there’s hope for some of the individual players in regard to gaining some experience and proving their worth. We should expect to see a ton of youth on the field and some hiccups along the way, but it’s important to begin evaluating the roster instead of competing for a mathematically impossible playoff run.

Three New York Giantsplayers that might break out in the second half of the season:

1.) TE Evan Engram

Several days ago I labeled tight end Evan Engram as a potential bust. Why? Because his purpose when drafted was to be a premier level pass catching option off the line of scrimmage. So far, his career has been plagued with dropped passes and an inability to block efficiently.

Does this mean Engram can’t succeed moving forward? Absolutely not, and god knows I’m rooting for him to be the best possible player he can be. Therefore, I’m going to go out on a limb and say Engram has a stellar second half to the season.

The Giants’ tight end has played in five of eight games this season, wracking up a soft 145 yards and two touchdowns. It’s obvious he’s not being used to his potential, but this can be a result of a porous offensive line. Moving forward, I hope to see HC Pat Shurmur utilize Engram up the seam and get him into open spaces.

2.) LT Nate Solder

It’s known that left tackle Nate Solder improves as the season goes on, but so far he’s been far from a stellar replacement for Ereck Flowers, let alone a decent one. Solder came over from the New England Patriots on a four-year, $62 million deal. He’s averaging about $15 million per-season, making him the highest paid tackle in the history of the game.

Despite his lackluster performance thus far, there’s a reason he’s been struggling so consistently. In the systematic Patriots offense, Tom Brady often drops back just six steps, targeting intermediate and short routes. The design of the offense is built to get the ball out of Brady’s hands as soon as possible, and with his deadly accuracy the approach works to perfection on most occasions.

Solder is built to handle interior rushes and pushing his assignment to the outside. Often time, he would allow his man to beat him on the outside and push him past Brady into the backfield, allowing the all-time great to step up into the pocket and deliver the pass. Eli Manning on the other hand is used to a 8-10 step drop back, which puts Solder in a tough position. It forces him to become a more well-rounded tackle, acquiring the ability to handle pass-rusher on the exterior and interior.

It will take time for Solder to build this foundation skill-set, but I feel as though he will show a much better effort in the second half of the season.

3.) DL B.J. Hill

The Giants’ fourth-round pick has proven to be a stellar interior defensive lineman, acting as a pass-rusher from the trenches and playing well against the run. Hill has been coined as the most NFL-ready player coming out of the 2018 NFL Draft, according to Shurmur.

Hill already has 24 combined tackles, two sacks, and two quarterback hits in his first eight games. If he continues to perform at this level, he will finish the year with 48 total tackles, four sacks, and four QB hits. To put this into perspective, Olivier Vernon had 6.5 sacks, 37 combined tackles, and 12 QB hits last year. Now, obviously Vernon and Hill play vastly different positions, but it’s important to recognize the role of a defensive tackle in a 3-4 defense. They’re expected to put pressure on the quarterback from the inside and allow the edge rushers to leave their mark in terms of sacks.

The North Carolina State product is in for an even bigger second-half of the season, especially with a bit of well-earned experience under his belt.