The New York Giants traded away Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns in return for several draft picks and safety Jabrill Peppers. Will OBJ’s absence benefit third-year tight end, Evan Engram?
The New York Giants will begin the 2019 season down one generation talent, but the quality remaining should see a boost in production. Their stats tell a story of elevation in the absence of Beckham Jr., and while his influence was impactful and will be missed, options like Evan Engram will benefit.
In 2018, OBJ missed the last four games of the season, and that small sample size offers some interesting data that can either be considered or brushed under the rug. Now, 4 games don’t scream accuracy, but when nearly every player saw an uptick in production and the team averaged more points per game, it’s worth looking into.
Over the first 12 games of the season, Engram racked up a mere 36.7 yards per game receiving. In the remaining four games, he averaged 80 yards — that’s a significant difference in production. More than double to be precise. Does this mean he will explode onto the scene in 2019? Certainly not, but it surely provides optimism that his impact will be more apparent.
How can the New York Giants diversify Engram’s play?
One of the things I love about Engram is that he’s multi-faceted. He can play as a natural tight end, blocking from the interior, or he can be motioned out into the slot and run solid routes. He’s a natural-born seam route exposer — his fantastic speed and physicality as a receiver allows him to open up the middle of the field and draw coverage away from Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate (in the future). It also takes attention away from Saquon Barkley, the Giants’ premier play-maker.
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However, I see the Giants taking a different approach with Engram in 2019. I get the sense they will use him more-so as a receiver than a blocking tight end. With Rhett Ellison and Scott Simonson, two blocking tight ends, featuring on the team, it opens the door for Engram to finally reach his potential.
Looking at the former first-round pick’s catch rate — it skyrocketed from 2017 to 2018. In his rookie season, Engram caught just 55.7% of passes throws his way. One year later he earned a 70.3% catch rate. Improving the offensive line which allows Eli Manning to be more accurate with his passes should directly influence Engram’s efficiency in the passing game.