When healthy, Evan Engram has shown some flashes of being an elite tight end for the NY Giants, but it may be time to consider moving him to wide receiver.
When healthy, NY Giants tight end Evan Engram has shown the ability to be among the elite receivers in the National Football league. Unfortunately, his ability to stay healthy has been a major issue during his young career.
In his first three seasons in the league, Engram has missed a total of 16 games due to injury.
When active, Engram has shown the ability to be a reliable target for Giants quarterbacks. Coming into the year, he has had double-digit receptions in seven of the 34 games that he played in. That was the same number of double-digit reception games as Zach Ertz, despite playing in 11 fewer games than Ertz.
He had four more double-digit reception games than Travis Kelce and six more than George Kittle, despite playing 13 fewer games than Kelce and 11 fewer than Kittle.
That said, if he cannot manage to stay healthy enough to remain on the field for the NY Giants, his abilities to serve as a prime receiving target becomes a moot point. The inability to remain healthy isn’t the only concern surrounding Engram’s game.
His ability to block in both the run game and in pass protection is nearly non-existent and has not improved at the rate you would hope for during his young career.
Engram’s issues with blocking are nothing new. He was known to be an extremely poor blocker coming out of Ole Miss. It was easy to overlook this major deficiency in Engram’s game when he was making big plays in the receiving game.
However, as NY Giants fans witnessed in the team’s first game of the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he isn’t contributing to the receiving game, his ineptitude as a blocker is extremely detrimental to the Giants offense.
Due to the injury concerns and inability to serve as an adequate blocker, a major component of the tight end position, it may be time for the Giants to consider moving Engram to the wide receiver position, an idea that has been floated out since the time he was drafted.
A move from a tight end to a wide receiver may end up being beneficial for both Engram and the NY Giants. First, playing the wide receiver position would likely take less of a toll on Engram’s body than playing tight end, where he is routinely defended and tackled by bigger linebackers while making catches in the middle of the field that expose him to big hits.
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Instead, a move to the wide receiver position would allow Engram to match up against smaller cornerbacks and safeties, which should save him from some of the bigger hits he sustains in a season.
Additionally, the matchup against cornerbacks, who are much smaller than Engram, or safeties, who are typically much slower than he is, would be a matchup advantage that would benefit the NY Giants.
Evan Engram is 6’3″ and 240-pounds and ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash. By comparison Darius Slayton is 6’1″ and 195-pounds and ran a 4.39-second 40-yard dash. Sterling Shepard is 5’10” and 200-pounds and ran a 4.48-second time. Golden Tate III is 5’10” and 200-pounds and ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash. Engram has the size and speed to compete and excel at the outside wide receiver position.
Engram was known as an excellent route runner coming out of college and has shown the ability to run solid routes as a professional. Additionally, he has had sure hands throughout his career, dropping only 6 of the 132 passes thrown his way over the past two seasons.
He has also caught 61% of the passes thrown to him in his career. This would suggest the two drops he had on seven targets against the Steelers was nothing more than an aberration.
With the excellent route-running ability, good hands, the ability to create separation with his speed in both man and zone coverage, and his excellent size, Engram could prove to be an absolute nightmare lining up as a wide receiver on the outside.
This would be extremely beneficial in both third-down situations and in the red zone.
Given how thin the NY Giants currently are at the wide receiver position with Slayton, Shepard, and Tate (who is currently injured) serving as the only wideouts with any real experience on the team, the G-Men may benefit from adding Engram as depth to the receiving corps.
By moving Engram to wide receiver, the NY Giants could elevate Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo up the tight end depth chart. Smith is a more prototypical tight end who is a very solid blocker, especially in the run game, something that would be a valuable asset given the atrocious run blocking witnessed in the Steelers game, that led to Saquon Barkley rushing 15 times for a measly six yards.
Smith showed the ability to thrive in the starting tight end role last season when he filled in for an injured Engram. In nine games with the Giants, Smith recorded 31 receptions for 268 yards and three touchdowns. He looked extremely solid in the receiving game and coincidentally Barkley had most of his best rushing performances with Smith as a starter.
Offseason free-agent addition Levine Toilolo receiving more time in two tight end sets as a blocker is something that would bode well for Daniel Jones and a young offensive line in pass protection and Barkley in run blocking. At 6’8″ and 275-pounds, Toilolo is a monster tight end that can be used as an asset in the blocking game. However, if Engram is playing tight end for his receiving skills, it keeps Toilolo off the field more times than not.
Toilolo has also shown the ability to make catches and be a big target in critical situations. In his six-year career, he has 97 receptions for 996 yards and eight touchdowns. It is going to be rare to find a defender who can match up with a tight end of his height.
In summary, moving Engram to an outside wide receiver position, where he and Slayton can be vertical options with Shepard and Tate working out of the slot positions would make more sense for the NY Giants.
Especially if they can get much-needed blocking and adequate receiving abilities from the likes of Smith and Toilolo at tight end. The move seems very much like a win-win for both Evan Engram and the GMEN.