New York Giants: Why we should be excited about Kyle Rudolph’s impact in 2021

new york giants, kyle rudolph

One of the most surprising off-season signings for the New York Giants was tight end Kyle Rudolph, but after analyzing the details behind this pick up, it is clear the Giants view him as a versatile piece.

Not only is Rudolph capable of providing solid blocking in the run game, but he masks Evan Engram’s biggest efficiency, catching fastballs in the middle of the field on sit-down routes. However, Rudolph has spent the last 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, totaling 48 career touchdowns and a 68.1% catch rate. Rudolph hasn’t dropped a pass in two years, a statistic that Giants fans are likely smiling at.

Considering Engram dropped 11 passes last year and was correlated to six interceptions, adding a tight end who holds onto the ball adequately is a blessing. The transition for Rudolph will not be easy, though, having spent his entire career with one team before making the move to New York this off-season.

“You kind of feel like a rookie all over again,” Rudolph told Fox 9 Sports Now.

“It was when I was in the new facility in [New Jersey] for the first time,” Rudolph said. “Going into the building, being around new teammates, being around coaches… It’s one thing when you’re on Zoom calls and you’re learning that way, but actually being in the building — that’s when it really hit me that we’re doing this, we’re making a transition.”

Rudolph signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Giants, but the team as a potential out in 2022 which would count $2.25 million in dead money. Essentially, the deal would equate to one year, $7 million, worst-case scenario. Rudolph brings plenty of tangible qualities that should impact the Giants positively during the 2021 season.

While Kyle is rehabilitating from a foot injury that should keep him out until the start of the regular season, he has been working diligently with trainers to improve his status as training camp nears. He is two years removed from posting 367 yards and six touchdowns with Minnesota.

The 31-year-old TE is an elite red zone threat at 6’6” and 265 pounds, now offering the Giants the tallest receiver they’ve had in years.

Rudolph’s impact will shade towards consistency as a security blanket for quarterback Daniel Jones, but he should open the field up for Engram up the seams and 10+ yards downfield. When looking at Rudolph’s reception depths from the 2020 season, the majority of his catches came in the 0-10 yard range from the line of scrimmage. Rudolph hauled in 20 catches for 201 yards in that range last year, accounting for over 60% of his receptions and total yardage. He landed a 75.7% catch rate, while Engram finishing the season at 57.8%.

Clearly, the veteran tight end will have a significant role this upcoming year, especially as coordinator Jason Garrett loves to utilize 12-personnel, indicating two tight ends on the field. They should provide support in the run game for Saquon Barkley while also allowing the play-action to be maximized with downfield threats like Engram, a Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and Darius Slayton.

Kyle Rudolph is going to help fix the New York Giants’ problems in the red zone

new york giants, kyle rudolph

The New York Giants offense was majorly disappointing in 2020. Their unit ranked second-to-last in the NFL, averaging a putrid 17.5 points per game. The Giants recognized this weakness and worked hard to fix it this offseason. In free agency, the Giants landed two big playmakers in Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph before doubling down with Kadarius Toney in the NFL Draft.

One area where the Giants’ offense struggled, in particular, was the red zone. Their red zone scoring percentage ranked 31st in the league in 2020 at 46.34%. Time and time again, the Giants got into scoring range and failed to convert. NFL teams will not find great success without a competent red zone offense.

The Giants might have found a couple of ways to fix their red zone scoring efficiency in 2021. Of course, their big splash signing in Kenny Golladay will help the team score more points. Golladay led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2019. He possesses a huge frame and makes his presence known down near the goal line. Kenny Golladay is a premiere red zone threat. But another Giants signing this offseason will also help fix their struggles in the scoring zone. Kyle Rudolph will play a huge part in fixing the Giants’ red zone offense in 2021.

Kyle Rudolph: a red-zone scoring machine

Kyle Rudolph is arguably the most dependable tight end in the NFL. ‘Ole Reliable Rudolph dropped 1 pass on 167 targets from 2018 to 2020. He’s as sure-handed as NFL players get. Rudolph is durable, too, playing in 92 of 96 games since 2015 for the Vikings. Of Kyle Rudolph’s 48 career touchdown receptions, 40 of them — 83.3 percent — have come in the red zone (Paul Schwartz of the NY Post).

Additionally, Kyle Rudolph’s strength and run-blocking capabilities will factor in on the goal line. The Giants will utilize their typical jumbo-set goal-line packages featuring two or three tight ends this year. Kyle Rudolph will contribute as arguably the Giants’ best run-blocker at the position. So, not only will Rudolph be scoring touchdowns in the red zone, but he will also be helping to create scoring opportunities.

Considering how badly the Giants’ offense struggled in the red zone last season, Kyle Rudolph could have a major impact on the team in 2021. Giving Daniel Jones a reliable receiving threat in the scoring range was crucial for the Giants this offseason and they delivered. The team’s struggles to score should dissipate this season with an influx of weapons on offense, including the red zone scoring machine that is Kyle Rudolph.

How the New York Giants can get the most out of Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph

New York Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants’ offense is heavily reliant on the offensive line’s success next season, but with newly acquired weapons and the hopeful progression of Daniel Jones, they will drag themselves out of the bottom of the barrel in points per game.

Last year, they ranked 31st in points per game, with a below-average passing attack and average running game. Taking a significant step forward will not only help the offense but the defense as well, who were forced to pick up the load and supplement weaknesses in 2020.

The New York Giants have two TEs who can play a significant role moving forward:

Two players that will likely have a significant impact are tight ends Kyle Rudolph and Evan Engram. The Giants signed Rudolph to a two-year, $12 million deal this off-season, including a $4.5 million signing bonus and $4.5 million guaranteed. Despite suffering a foot injury last year that required surgery, the Giants still feel confident he will be ready for the start of the 2021 regular season.

Last year, Rudolph dominated in the middle of the field, collecting 20 receptions and zero drops. Alternatively, Engram was a liability in that same section, being connected to six interceptions and four drops. Despite making the Pro Bowl, Engram indicated he wants to forget all about his 2020 season, which is very telling of his performance and what he expects of himself.

However, the Giants and coordinator Jason Garrett can utilize these two players in vastly different ways to maximize their capabilities. Rudolph is a short-range receiver who can capitalize on high percentage throws in space. He operates primarily in the 0-10 yard range from the line of scrimmage, sitting down on hook routes, and operating in the flats (quick outs). Rudolph is also a stellar red zone threat, collecting 40 touchdown passes in that facet over the course of his career. He’s only one year removed from a six-touchdown performance, and at 6’6”, he is the Giants’ tallest receiver.

Engram, who should be used more as a jumbo slot option more, is best attacking the seams and vertical routes. The Giants gained the most from him on deep-outs, dig routes, seam exploitation, and spray fades in 2020.

If they can maximize both tight end’s strengths, they will have an offense that successfully operates in the middle of the field but also stretches the boundaries and seams, and that’s not even accounting for Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, and Co. This will force defenses to play more cover-2 and take a defender out of the box. That will subsequently provide the running game with more room to work with and fewer blitzers for Daniel Jones to maneuver around.

Every hole the Giants fixed this off-season serves a purpose, and it all trickles down to a different portion of the offense, equalling an easier experience moving forward.

New York Giants: How Kyle Rudolph is going to help Evan Engram realize his potential

New York Giants, Evan Engram

When the New York Giants signed tight end Kyle Rudolph, they envisioned one primary factor he would bring to the team — the ability to catch the football efficiently in the middle of the field.

Rudolph is proficient in dominating short-yardage situations and collecting footballs adequately in the 10-yard range from the line of scrimmage. Interestingly, this is also where Evan Engram struggles the most, having been connected to six interceptions in 2020 and struggling with drops.

In 2019, Rudolph caught 28 passes on 30 targets, four 237 yards, and three touchdowns. He offers a big 6’6″ red zone threat for quarterback Daniel Jones and a competent pass catcher. Last season, Evan Engram dropped eight passes, representing 11.3% of his targets, per PFF. That is an unacceptable number, which hurt the Giants’ offense significantly, contributing toward missing out on a postseason appearance.

However, the signing of Rudolph should bolster the offense considerably, providing them with a consistent threat in the middle of the field and allowing Engram to capitalize on his strengths while leaving his weaknesses behind.

Historically, coordinator Jason Garrett utilizes a big body TE as a security blanket for his quarterback, and that is what Rudolph represents for Daniel Jones. Engram was always a more superior athlete with the ability to push the field vertically and utilizes above-average route running to take advantage of mismatches.

The New York Giants like to get creative with Evan Engram:

In 2020, Engram’s alignments varied, spending 450 total snaps inline, 284 in the slot, and 99 out wide. The Giants should continue to get creative and versatile with Evan; he can be used as a jumbo tight end in the slot and also spread out wide against smaller corners. At 6’3″ and 240 pounds, he can attack cornerbacks and smaller DBs, but also forcing middle linebackers to cover him up the seams, which is always advantageous.

In 12 personnel, which would dictate two tight ends, the Giants can draw attention to the middle of the field with Rudolph while simultaneously pressuring the vertical routes with Engram. That is not even mentioning the additions of Kenney Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and the existence of Sterling Shepard.

With so many downfield options and short-area receivers, Daniel Jones will have plenty of weapons to utilize on offense, but Engram could see his potential realized in his fifth year as the Giants picked up the option in his rookie contract last season.

The reality is simple, if Engram can alleviate his drop issues and hold onto the football, he would easily be a top-five receiving tight end in the NFL.

New York Giants: Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph complement each other perfectly

New York Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants spent a lot of resources on their offense this offseason. New York made two big splashes in free agency on the offensive side of the ball and also made some quality depth signings. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay and tight end Kyle Rudolph were the big-name weapons that joined the Giants in March. The Giants also signed John Ross III and Devontae Booker as quality backups.

New York then doubled down on its promise to give Daniel Jones weapons in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. With the 20th overall pick in the draft, the Giants selected wide receiver Kadarius Toney.

The Giants now feel confident that Daniel Jones has the tools at his disposal to create a successful 2021 season. In 2020, New York had a clear lack of talent on offense, averaging only 17.5 points per game. One of the team’s best receiving threats, Evan Engram, struggled tremendously in 2020, dropping 11 passes on the season.

In 2021, Engram could bounce back as the Giants take some pressure off of him in the receiving game. They added a bunch of new weapons to the offense and created good depth at the tight end position heading into 2021.

Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph complement each other perfectly

The good, bad, and ugly of Evan Engram

Evan Engram will return this year as the New York Giants’ starting tight end. However, he will likely share much of his playing time with the newly-signed veteran Kyle Rudolph. Engram and Rudolph’s playing styles complement each other perfectly.

Much has been made of Evan Engram’s drops and struggles in 2020. But many forget that he is still a quality tight end and one of the most athletic and dynamic players at this position in the NFL. Not many tight ends in the NFL can fly through a 40-yard dash at 4.42 seconds. He has true wide receiver speed and elite route running for a tight end. Engram’s release package helped him frequently separate vertically for big gains downfield last season.

Engram’s struggles came when the Giants forced him to sit down in the middle of the field between 0-10 yards from the line of scrimmage. All six of the interceptions thrown while targeting Evan Engram came in that range, as did four of his drops.

The Giants misused Evan Engram in 2020. He played the “Jason Witten role” in Jason Garrett’s offense, rather than the “Blake Jarwin role.” Engram is meant to get vertical and use his precise route running to create separation. But too frequently Garrett used him as an underneath contested-catch option. In 2021, expect to see Kyle Rudolph take over that role while Evan Engram gets used in a more versatile fashion.

Mr. Reliable, Kevin Rudolph

Evan Engram’s inconsistency became too much for Giants fans to bear last season. So the Giants went out and got the most reliable tight end in football to make up for that.

Kyle Rudolph has not dropped a pass in the last two years and is incredible at making contested catches. Rudolph’s contested catch rate since 2016 is 51.9%. Compare this to Evan Engram’s career contested-catch rate of 32.1%, and it’s easy to understand why Kyle Rudolph could be one of the Giants’ most valuable offensive weapons.

Kyle Rudolph also provides the Giants with an elite red zone presence. Of Kyle Rudolph’s 48 career touchdown receptions, 40 of them — 83.3 percent — have come in the red zone (Paul Schwartz of the NY Post).

In 2021, expect to see Kyle Rudolph take over Evan Engram’s role last season as the reliable underneath option in the Giants’ offense. Evan Engram will likely complement that by lining up out wide and in the slot more often so he can utilize his speed and separation-ability to make big gains downfield. These two tight ends will work in tandem to make the New York Giants’ offense a more efficient unit next season.

New York Giants: Evan Engram and teammates to attend Travis Kelce’s TE camp

New York Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants will have an interesting group at tight end this season. Not only did they add Kyle Rudolph during the offseason, but their number one player at the position remains the controversial Evan Engram.

Engram was drafted for one reason, to catch passes – but the tight end has picked up a polarizing reputation due to long injuries and key drops in big moments. Going into the 2021 season, though, it looks like we can expect an effort from Engram to improve his skills.

That includes attending a brand new camp held by current Chief Travis Kelce and retired TE Greg Olsen.

While Engram was initially reported as attending the camp with teammate Kaden Smith, the camp’s official Twitter account later confirmed that Kyle Rudolph will also be present.

The camp so far has many other participants from around the league and aims to help the NFL’s tight ends improve their skills. It seems that the event is set to take place this summer, specifically in June. If it’s a success, we’ll likely see it become an annual happening.

Many fans will say that Engram needs to work on his catching – that aspect of his game has been a consistent problem for him since coming into the league, and even cost the Giants a game sealing first down against the Eagles last season in a matchup they would eventually lose.

But with some of the most prominent pass catching tight ends in the league there, there’s a good chance Engram and the other two Giants come out having learned something.

New York Giants revamped their offense with sure-handed receivers in 2021

New York Giants, Kenny Golladay

The New York Giants had one of the worst offenses in the NFL in 2020. The Giants averaged a putrid 17.5 points per game this past season. New York lacked playmakers on offense once superstar running back Saquon Barkley went down for the season in Week 2.

In the passing game, the Giants severely lacked dependable weapons to haul in passes from Daniel Jones. In a pivotal sophomore season, Daniel Jones had 23 of his passes dropped in 2020. The Giants’ wide receivers were inconsistent and undependable. New York made it a point of emphasis to fix that in the 2021 offseason.

The Giants’ new dependable wide receiver corps

According to Pro Football Focus, the Giants had the second-highest rate of dropped passes last season. Tight end Evan Engram receives a lot of criticism for dropping 11 passes in 2020. However, he was not the only receiver that struggled to hold onto the football last season. Darius Slayton also dropped 6 passes. The Giants’ receivers also struggled to separate last season.

Golden Tate averaged only 2.1 yards of separation in 2020 (tied-fourth worst in the league). Darius Slayton’s separation at a 2.9-yard average was not much better. The Giants recognized a clear need to upgrade Daniel Jones’s offensive weapons and seized the opportunity to do so in the 2021 offseason.

The New York Giants made a splash in free agency this offseason when they landed the market’s top wide receiver, Kenny Golladay. The Giants landed a receiver that is as dependable as they come. Kenny Golladay has the second-highest contested catch rate in the NFL since 2018 (PFF). Daniel Jones now has his big-body “go up and get it” outside receiver with Kenny G.

With their first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Giants got another sure-handed receiver. Kadarius Toney had only 3 career drops on 123 catchable passes during his time at the University of Florida (PFF). Toney fills a huge YAC need for the Giants, but also brings some dependability to the offense, too.

The Giants’ third big receiving acquisition this offseason was tight end Kyle Rudolph. Evan Engram struggled to hold onto the ball as New York’s starting tight end in 2020, so the Giants went out and got the most sure-handed and dependable tight end in football to help him out. Kyle Rudolph has recorded zero drops on 90 targets the past two seasons (PFF).

The New York Giants now have consistency and dependability on offense. Daniel Jones will enjoy throwing to sure-handed receivers as he attempts to establish himself as a franchise quarterback in his third season.

New York Giants: Dave Gettleman succeeded, found his “touchdown-makers” this offseason

New York Giants, Kenny Golladay

Last month, New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman sat down in a press conference to recap the Giants’ offseason moves. During his discussion with the press, Gettleman mentioned that the Giants wanted to add “touchdown-makers” and feels that they had accomplished that goal.

“Touchdown-makers” is a term Dave Gettleman has used before. Upon drafting Saquon Barkley with the second overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Gettleman described Barkley as a “touchdown-maker” and a “threat to take it to the house every time he gets his hands on the ball.”

Dave Gettleman claims to have found more “touchdown-makers” this offseason. And his claim is indeed accurate. The Giants had a successful offseason period that saw them acquire a plethora of talented playmakers on offense.

The New York Giants’ new “touchdown-makers”

The New York Giants’ offense was incompetent in 2020. The Giants’ offense was the 31st ranked unit in the NFL, averaging a putrid 17.5 points per game. Hence Dave Gettleman’s desire to add “touchdown-makers,” players that could put points on the board.

What better way to fix an incompetent offense than to sign the league leader in touchdown receptions from 2019? Kenny Golladay was that guy, hauling in an impressive 11 touchdown receptions in a breakout 2019 campaign. Golladay caught 65 passes that season for 1,190 receiving yards. He was still an alpha dog wide receiver in 2020, averaging 67.6 yards per game, prior to the season-ending injury that shut him down after just five games.

Similar to Saquon Barkley, 2021 first-round pick Kadarius Toney is a “threat to take it to the house every time he gets his hands on the ball.” Toney had the highest missed tackle rate (35%) among 2021 NFL Draft WRs (PFF). The dynamic UF playmaker racked up 10 touchdowns in his final collegiate season.

The Giants also added reliable tight end Kyle Rudolph to the lineup this offseason. Rudolph is on a shortlist of players with 15+ receiving touchdowns in the red zone since 2016. According to Paul Schwartz of the NY Post, of Kyle Rudolph’s 48 career touchdown receptions, 40 of them — 83.3 percent — have come in the red zone. The Giants added some big-play scorers with Toney and Golladay, but they were wise enough to add a short-range assassin in Rudolph as well.

And, of course, the Giants’ offense was without its original “touchdown-maker” for the majority of the 2020 season. Saquon Barkley tore his ACL in Week Two, spending the rest of the season on injured reserve. Now, fully healthy, Barkley will return to the lineup in 2021 and look to be that home-run threat the Giants’ offense grew accustomed to having. Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney, Kyle Rudolph, and Kenny Golladay will step into the Giants’ 2021 offense and make big plays.

New York Giants: Kyle Rudolph bringing much-needed dependability to the offense

new york giants, kyle rudolph

The New York Giants went into this offseason with a clear mission: upgrade the playmakers around quarterback Daniel Jones. New York was successful. They added two new primary wide receivers, Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney. They also added quality depth at the receiver position with John Ross III. But another underrated move that the Giants made was adding a dependable, consistent tight end to the roster in Kyle Rudolph.

What Kyle Rudolph will bring to the Giants

Kyle Rudolph might not be the flashiest offseason move that the Giants made this offseason, but he is still one of the best. No, he was not the top receiver on the free-agent market (Kenny Golladay) or the most explosive receiver in the NFL Draft (Kadarius Toney), though the Giants added both of those playmakers to their roster, too.

Rather, Kyle Rudolph was the most dependable tight end on the free-agent market. Dependability is something this Giants’ offense desperately needed. In 2020, the Giants did not have a reliable or consistent group of playmakers around Daniel Jones. The Giants went all-in on Danny Dimes this offseason, supplying him with as much talent as possible to share the ball with in his third year.

While the Giants added a slew of explosive playmakers to the offense, they also made the wise move of adding a less explosive but more dependable option in Kyle Rudolph. With a career catch rate of 68.1%, the ten-year veteran was always a consistent option for the Minnesota Vikings. Rudolph’s catch rate topped 75% in each of his last three seasons.

Last year, Evan Engram was at the center of a slew of turnovers. He dropped 11 passes on 109 targets in 2020 and was targeted on 6 interceptions. Engram also lost a fumble and mishandled an end-around pitch from Daniel Jones that resulted in a turnover (Jones was credited with the fumble, though). Engram still brought explosion and play-making ability to the tight end position with 654 receiving yards, 29 first downs, and a long reception of 53 yards. However, Evan Engram was also the most inconsistent and unreliable receiver on the Giants last season.

From 2018 to 2020, Kyle Rudolph dropped 1 pass on 167 targets. This kind of reliability underneath will be huge for the Giants’ offense in 2021. Daniel Jones had 23 passes dropped in 2020. Getting Jones a tight end he can depend on to consistently haul in underneath passes was an exceptional move by the Giants in this offseason period.

New York Giants: Daniel Jones earns Andrew Luck comparison from new signing

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

It’s debatable which past player New York Giants QB Daniel Jones is comparable to at this point in his career. It’s still pretty early and there’s still room for Jones’ career to go up or down – either as the future leader of the Giants or as an afternote that will eventually be replaced. However, one of the players to sign with the Giants during this free agency period is confident that big things are coming for Jones.

Specifically, Kyle Rudolph has given Jones a comparison to Andrew Luck while speaking with the Pat McAfee Show. Obviously, that’s high praise. Luck and Jones were both high draft picks, but Luck would manage to go down as one of the best young quarterbacks ever before his early retirement. Jones still has some time to turn it around and reach those heights – but it will be an uphill battle.

What did Rudolph have to say?

“He’s a stud and then you watch him over the last two years and – you said it – he’s got all the intangibles to be an Andrew Luck-type quarterback. Hopefully we put a bunch of pieces around him and we can take some of the pressure off of him, let him just go out there and play with confidence and let all those attributes and abilities take over,” Rudolph said about Jones.

It’s a bold prediction for Jones to reach Luck’s level of play, but at the very least, the Giants are adding weapons this offseason for Jones and may improve the offensive line in the draft. One obvious parallel between Jones and Luck is the bad blocking through their careers, even if that wasn’t what Rudolph was getting at.

And if the Giants want to win down the line, they’ll likely have to address that similarity at one point or another. We’ve already seen from Jones’ injury problems last year, after all, what happens when a team can’t protect their playmaker.

Some will immediately roll their eyes at Rudolph’s comparison, but it just goes to show how the Giants and some others around the league still think highly of Jones – and how big the expectations are on him going into year number three.