NY Giants: 5 Offensive Breakout Candidates for 2021

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Kaden Smith, NY Giants
New York Giants tight end Kaden Smith (Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) /

Kaden Smith – TE

Despite Evan Engram’s status as a Pro Bowl tight end, the Giants would be wise to look for or develop an additional weapon at tight end. Kaden Smith should help with the latter.

And that is help they need. Engram ended his Pro Bowl year with a catch percentage of 57.8, his second lowest across his four-year career. Worse, he dropped 11 passes and was responsible for six interceptions. Quarterbacks averaged a rating of just 55.4 when targeting Engram.

So how can Kaden Smith help? Well, let’s start by showing his numbers in those same categories.

Across 15 games played, Smith had a catch percentage of 85.7 in 2020 — the highest among the entire team. He didn’t have a single drop to his credit, and quarterbacks averaged a rating of 88.9 when Smith was their target.

As good as these numbers are, they are helped by the quantity with which Smith plays. Despite playing in six more games in 2020 than his rookie campaign in 2019, Smith had fewer targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns. And as great as it is that the QB average for targeting Smith is 88.9, that too was down from the prior year, in which QBs averaged 114.

Engram presence seemed to cut into Smith’s production. Engram was hurt for half of 2019, playing in just eight games. And in those games, Smith stepped up in the passing game, which as we’ve learned was better in 2019 than it was in 2020.

But there should be enough space for both of them on this offense. Engram’s legend only continues to grow with his first Pro Bowl selection, which means he’s more likely to face tougher coverage. And since there’s a greater chance of Engram dropping the ball or causing an interception, Smith should make for a nice check-down target.

Kaden Smith may have taken a back seat in the passing game during 2020. But expect him to be more prevalent in 2021.

Next. 3 surprise cuts Giants could make to create cap space. dark