Eli Manning is going to need a lot of help from his receivers to succeed in 2018. A more consistent Evan Engram would be a huge boost for the veteran QB.
Evan Engram is enjoying flying under the radar at the moment. The majority of the talk surrounding the New York Giants’ passing attack centers around Eli Manning and the improving health of Odell Beckham, Jr. The truth is, Engram can help Manning extend his career as much as any receiver on the roster.
The former Ole Miss tight end showed flashes of brilliance last season as a rookie, but he was plagued by drops. Fortunately, Engram is acutely aware of his chief deficiency. He approached this preseason with a goal of having “zero drops all spring.”
That might be an impossible goal to achieve, but it’s a good thing for Engram to aspire towards. He has a unique opportunity to emerge as Manning’s favorite target this season. He doesn’t have the dynamic skills that Beckham Jr. can showcase down the field, but he does have the size to make tough catches on shorter routes. Given Manning’s diminishing arm strength, he may be more comfortable throwing more checkdowns than deep outs in 2018.
It’s not that Engram wasn’t productive in his rookie season. He posted an impressive stat line of 64 catches for 722 yards for a bad Giants team. The point here is that he’s got the talent to become one of the best tight ends in football. If he’s going to transform into the Pro Bowl pass-catcher he is capable of becoming, he needs to prove to Manning he can catch the ball consistently.
The addition of Saquon Barkley to the Giants backfield could also give Engram some more space. New York will definitely run the ball more than they did last season, but it should give the offense the ability to use play-action passing as a legitimate weapon. If defenses aren’t diligent about jamming Engram at the line of scrimmage he can rack up big yards via free releases on play action fakes.
The good news for Engram is that he doesn’t need to prove that he can make the special play in 2018. He did that as a rookie. All he needs to do is prove that he can be counted on to make the routine play on a more consistent basis. If he can do that, the sky’s the limit for the electric tight end.