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.

Did the New York Giants land a steal in UDFA WR/TE Rysen John?

Going to a big-time college is not a requirement to partake in the NFL draft, and while the New York Giants looked to some bigger schools to draft top-tier talent, they did snag a few unknowns as undrafted free agents. Simon Fraser University offered Rysen John, who waited patiently for his name to be called as he played Uno with his family several weeks ago. The draft came and went, without Rysen being snagged off the board. However, he wasn’t too surprised and was preparing for a team to call based on his incredible frame.

At 6-foot-7 and 237 pounds, John logged 861 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in 2019. That is not to mention his 4.60 40-yard dash at his private pro day. His rare combination of size, speed, and athleticism makes him a promising prospect for the Giants.

However, the Giants didn’t sign John to be a traditional wide receiver, they want to test him at tight end due to his frame.

“They looked at my film and saw my body type and they all agreed that they would try me as a tight end,” John said, via Newsday. “But I was willing to do it . . .  It’s gonna be a little bit different, but it if makes me more involved in the offense and makes me more of a weapon, that’s fine with me.”

Being 6-foot-7 gives John a significant advantage heading into the NFL.

“It made me the tallest guy on the team and usually on the field, so I had a sense of confidence every time I was out there,” John said. “That helped me out a little bit. But being big on the field and using my body any way I can to my advantage against any matchup, that’s really where it helps. I am a problem and I try to be a matchup nightmare any time my name does get called.”

The New York Giants could use more depth of the tight end position, which has changed over the course of this offseason with retirement of Rhett Ellison and Kaden Smith expected to take a more significant role. Despite John’s contract, he has a long way before he is cemented on the active roster let alone the practice squad. Projected as a pass-catching tight end at the NFL level, if he can develop into a solid blocker with his size, he could be extremely valuable for Big Blue in the future. New offensive coordinator Jason Garrett loves to play in the 12 personnel, which heavily features tight ends, making it one of the more important positions on the team.

With Evan Engram atop the tight end depth chart, Levine Toilolo and Kaden Smith are right behind him. He will have to battle it out for a back-end roster spot, but even if he lands on the practice squad with his lack of TE knowledge, he will have the time to refine his abilities and hopefully emerge as a potential starter moving forward.