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.

How should the New York Giants go about the tight end position?

New York Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants recently signed former Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph to a two-year deal. This move leaves the tight end room crowded. Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph, Kaden Smith, Levine Toilolo, and Rysen John make up this position. I think it’s possible that the Giants draft a tight end in the later rounds as well. The Giants obviously can’t carry 6 or 7 tight ends when positions like Cornerback and Wide Receiver need all the depth they can get.

While Big Blue could go in several different directions, here are two realistic options heading into the 2021 season:

Kaden Smith is dropped

Jason Garrett loves running three-tight end sets in the running game, utilizing a jumbo-blocker to open up holes. We predominantly saw this due to the inadequacy of the passing game in 2020, but I expect them to continue with it based on Saquon’s return. Normally, the third tight end in that set is a really good blocker. Kaden Smith was average at best in run blocking last year, and only had 18 total catches to go with it. For some reason, Jason Garrett has an affinity for Levine Toilolo, who’s only good trait is that he’s insanely tall. The Giants already have one tight end who can’t block for his life. Why have two? I would hate to see Smith get dropped, but business is business.

Evan Engram Gets Traded

It feels as if this option is less and less likely to happen as the days go on. Before the signing of Kyle Rudolph, it seemed as if the Giants could draft Kyle Pitts and trade away Evan Engram. Now, the likelihood of the Giants drafting Kyle Pitts at 11 is low. But, let’s say this is an alternate reality where Kyle Rudolph and another tight end take over the starting spots. Evan Engram doesn’t have the best value, due to drops and other issues, but he has some value. I believe the Giants could scrape a 4th round pick at his lowest value. The Giants would clear up $6m in cap space and could sweeten the deal for another free agent like Adoree Jackson.

New York Giants retain TE Levine Toilolo on restructured contract, but why?

New York Giants, Levine Toilolo

The New York Giants desperately need to cut bait with several players as they try to open up enough cap space to re-sign some of their impending free agents.

The organization wants to retain Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson, so saving as much money as possible is likely the goal ahead of free agency. However, the Giants made one interesting move on Monday afternoon, electing to restructure tight end Levine Toilolo’s contract.

Toilolo was expected to earn $2.95 million for the 2021 season. If they were to cut him, he would count zero dead money, so they would’ve saved the entirety of his contract. Instead, he restructured down significantly, and we can only imagine it was near the minimum. If he agreed to such a deal, releasing him would’ve only saved an incremental amount of money, given the top 51 cut off. Last season, Toilolo recorded just five receptions for 46 yards and played in just 27% of offensive snaps.

However, he was predominantly featured on special teams, playing in 38% of snaps. At the end of the day, saving as much money as possible would’ve indicated releasing Toilolo, so unless they brought his cap number down to the bare minimum, this deal doesn’t make much sense. We’ll find out the restructured contract in the near future, but for now, this one is a head-scratcher.

Will the New York Giants receive any compensatory picks this year?

New York Giants, Cleveland Browns

The New York Giants are not expected to be awarded any compensatory draft picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Giants hold the 11th overall pick in the 2021 Draft. They will only have six picks overall to fill the many needs on the roster.

In addition to their first-round pick, the G-Men will have the 42nd overall pick in round two, No. 76 overall in round three, No. 107 overall in round four, and two sixth-round selections — No. 172 and No. 177, the latter received in exchange from the Arizona Cardinals in the Markus Golden trade.

The Giants do not have a fifth-round selection due to the trade with the New York Jets for Leonard Williams. Big Blue also does not have a seventh-round selection either due to the trade with the Denver Broncos for Isaac Yaidom.

According to the compensatory draft pick cancellation chart compiled by “Over The Cap,” the Giants are not due any additional selections due to their aggressive shopping spree in free agency last March. They signed cornerback James Bradberry, linebacker Blake Martinez, kicker Graham Gano, outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell, quarterback Colt McCoy, tight end Levine Toilolo, and safety/special teamer Nate Ebner.

Safety/Special Teamer Michael Thomas was signed by Houston, but according to the chart, he is listed as non-eligible for compensation.

Should the New York Giants consider trading Evan Engram?

New York Giants, Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants did not have many players selected to the Pro Bowl in 2020. One Giants player who was selected to the Pro Bowl, though, was a very controversial selection. The Giants’ offense was putrid this season, averaging only 17.5 points per game. But one player on their offense must have stood out to Pro Bowl voters.

New York Giants tight end Evan Engram was selected to his first career Pro Bowl in 2020 to the surprise of all Giants fans. Most fans felt Engram endured a down season this year, arguably the worst season of his career. Engram posted a career-low in touchdowns this season, reaching the end zone just twice. He also recorded a staggering 11 drops on the year, pulling frustration from Giants fans all season long.

Many fans thought Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan was far more deserving of a Pro Bowl selection after scoring 11 touchdowns, but he was snubbed in place of Evan Engram. Engram is still a young, talented player for the Giants. However, he is entering a contract year and has yet to meet the expectations set out for him after his incredible 2017 rookie season. Now, before New York has to pay Evan in 2022 potentially, the Giants need to decide whether or not they want Evan Engram to be a part of the team’s long-term future.

Should the Giants trade Evan Engram?

Despite his frustrating, drop-filled season, Evan Engram was arguably the most explosive and talented playmaker on the Giants’ offense last season, with Saquon Barkley on injured reserve. Engram still managed to rack up 654 receiving yards in 2020, despite leaving plenty of yards dropped onto the field.

Evan Engram is a talented player who cannot seem to get out of his own way. Maybe a change of scenery is what is best for him. But should the Giants really consider trading their starting tight end?

Replacement on the roster?

The Giants would be thin at the tight end position if they traded Evan Engram. Behind Evan is Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo. Kaden Smith is a young tight end with decent run-blocking capabilities but is not likely to emerge as a starting-level receiving talent. Toilolo is a pure run-blocker from the tight end position and is in danger of being a cap casualty this offseason.

Drafting a tight end

The Giants do have options to replace Evan Engram if they decide to trade him. One popular name connected to the Giants this offseason if draft prospect Kyle Pitts from the University of Florida. Pitts is a phenomenal tight end prospect that will likely be drafted in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Kyle Pitts totaled 43 receptions for 770 yards and an insane 12 touchdowns in only 8 games in 2020.

The Giants might not want to spend their coveted eleventh overall draft pick on a tight end, though, with much more pressing needs on their roster. New York is in need of a wide receiver and could target one with that pick or use the pick to improve their defense. But maybe the Giants could trade Evan Engram for a high-to-mid-round draft pick and replace him in free agency.

Finding a tight end in free agency

There are a few veteran options that the Giants could consider at tight end in free agency. In his twelfth career season, Jared Cook managed to rack up 504 yards and 7 touchdowns on 37 receptions in 2020. Cook has been one of the NFL’s best tight ends over his entire career and went to back to back Pro Bowls in 2018 and 2019. Despite thirty-three years old, Jared Cook is still playing some of his best football and could provide plenty of value to the Giants on a one-year deal.

Gerald Everett is a bit of a younger and likely pricier option for the Giants in free agency. The twenty-seven-year-old tight end has been with the Los Angeles Rams since his career began in 2017. Everett has been playing a complementary role, playing alongside Tyler Higbee with the Rams. The Rams run a lot of twelve-personnel, though, and Everett has made the most of his snaps. In 2020, Gerald posted a career-high 417 yards on 41 receptions. One red flag on Everett, though, is his six drops this past season. This could have been an anomaly, though, as he posted zero drops in both 2018 and 2019. Maybe a change of scenery could propel Everett into a legitimate starter.

One last high-end, long-shot option the Giants could take a look at in free agency is Hunter Henry. Henry is a twenty-seven-year-old tight end that has dealt with extensive injuries throughout his career. But when Henry is healthy, he performs as one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Henry has played 26 games in the past two seasons. Through those 26 games, Hunter has racked up 9 touchdowns and 1,265 receiving yards.

Hunter Henry is likely to be retained by the Los Angeles Chargers as they try to build around quarterback Justin Herbert. However, if he does hit the open market, Henry will be a highly-coveted free agent and could be a perfect fit for the Giants if they move on from Evan Engram.

New York Giants: Evan Engram talks new offense, individual future

New York Giants, Evane Engram

Evan Engram is entering his fourth season in the NFL and is projected to be the New York Giants starting tight end for a fourth consecutive season. He’ll be doing so in a new offense, administered by former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, the team’s new offensive coordinator. Meanwhile, former Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens is the Giants’ new tight ends coach.

Engram sees a “good” offense at training camp (quotes per Giants.com’s Dan Salomone).

“It’s a good offense in my eyes…Tight end, in general, is a very detail-specific position. There are a lot of things we have to learn.”

The Giants exercised Engram’s fifth-year option in April, keeping the tight end in North Jersey through 2021. Engram is focused on the present, though.

“I’m not too worried about that right now. We have a lot on our plate with the offense.”

“I can only control what’s in front of me each and every day.”

Engram has missed 13 of a possible 32 games over the last two seasons due to injuries. The tight end views being around his teammates again as a “blessing.”

“I take it as a blessing just to be back around my guys.”

Last season Engram totaled 44 receptions, 467 yards, and three touchdowns across eight games, six of which were starts. For his career, the Ole Miss product has totaled 153 receptions, 1,766 yards, and 12 touchdowns.

Tight end Kaden Smith, who the Giants acquired off waivers during the 2019 regular season, started in place of Engram and Rhett Ellison, who were each hurt, in the second half of last season. Smith totaled 31 receptions, 268 yards, and three touchdowns. Engram and Smith will be accompanied by free-agent signee Levine Toilolo, formally of the San Francisco 49ers.

For his career, the 6-foot-8 Toilolo has totaled 97 receptions, 996 yards, and eight touchdowns. He agreed to a two-year, $6.2 million deal with the Giants in free agency. Toilolo previously spent time with the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons.

New York Giants’ new signing Levine Toilolo brings Super Bowl winning advice, here’s what he had to say

Levine Toilolo, New York Giants

The New York Giants have been a mess ever since Jerry Reese left them with bloated contracts and no mobility almost three years ago. However, the reality is more grim – Reese had been building a team into oblivion, frequently missing on offensive linemen in the draft and investing more in skill-positions than fundamental building blocks.

Re-working the roster has been a challenge for GM Dave Gettleman, but he’s also made mistakes along the way, claiming the franchise could win while rebuilding. After one year of that aggressive mentality, the Giants were forced to revert back to a traditional model, which includes overhauling the defense.

The New York Giants finally committed to the rebuild:

In 2019, the Giants shredded their secondary and drafted youth players to begin filling holes. They attempted to do the same at the pass rusher position, but there’s still work to be done.

One player that knows what’s needed to reach a Super Bowl is newly signed tight end, Levine Toilolo. The massive body played for the San Francisco 49ers last season, who reached the Super Bowl.

Toilolo detailed what his former teams practiced to reach the end goal, according to Giants.com:

“One of the biggest things for me that I saw between the two teams over the few years was off the field, how close the guys came together and built relationships, and see how much that can translate onto the field,” Toilolo said. “When you’re playing at this level, I think it can be hard to really get out of the business aspect of it. But once you develop those relationships with not only your teammates but your coaches, and you feel that everyone is playing for something bigger than just themselves. You can definitely feel that on the field. Obviously, there’s tons of hard work that goes into it. But really just approaching each day as not only just a work day, but something you enjoy, because you enjoy the people there. You enjoy the people that you’re in the building with, that you’re in the meeting rooms with. A lot of people outside of football may not see that. But for someone who is in the building, I think that’s one thing that people may not realize is probably something that, in my opinion, one of the most important aspects to a team being successful.”

What Levine is describing is called “culture.” Joe Judge has been inserted into positive cultural experiences with Alabama and. New England during his career, and hopefully that’s something he will bring to the Giants.

A franchise in dire need of an atmospheric installment must add players who’re willing to do the work necessary to build that type of positive culture.

Giants to Add Veteran TE Levine Toilolo in Free Agency

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

Tight end is one the many position on New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman’s shopping list this spring and it appear he may have one in his sights.

Toilolo, 28, is a 6-foot-8, 268 pounder who is predominately known as a blocker, but he can add to the passing game as a short-yardage and red zone presence. The Giants need a veteran to replace Rhett Ellison, who retired earlier this year after finishing last season on IR with a concussion.

Toilolo was a fourth round pick out of Stanford in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. He played in Atlanta for five seasons before signing a one-year free agent deal with the Lions in 2018. Last season, Toilolo was reunited with Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco.

Toilolo has eight TD catches in his NFL career and has missed only four games over the course of his seven years in the league. The Giants depth chart now consists of Evan Engram, Kaden Smith (also a former Stanford Cardinal) and Toilolo.