On April 27th, 2017, the New York Giants selected Evan Engram with the 23rd pick of the NFL Draft. Coming off their first playoff birth since 2011, things were looking up for this team. They drafted Evan Engram to boost an offense that ranked 26th in the league, as the defense was the main reason the Giants made it to the playoffs in 2017. The addition of Engram provided another weapon for Ben Mcadoo to utilize in his system and try to get this offense some life.
However we all know how 2017 went… It was marred by injuries and a locker room that was not the same feeling as 2016. The Giants lost Odell Beckham Jr. to an ankle injury, Brandon Marshall also suffered an ankle injury, and Sterling Shepard missed time due to migraine issues. Evan Engram became the main man of that offense in 2017, as he was the only reliable option Eli had.
Now the year is 2020, and Evan Engram is in his 4th season with the team. His 2020 is off to a rocky start, and Joe Judge said in his news conference Evan is a “developing player”:
This statement from Judge was a head-scratcher for some Giant fans, with people pointing out it’s his 4th season with the team:
So I decided with this quote from Judge, I would go back and look at the past 3 seasons for Engram, and where he stands now 2 games into the 2020 regular season. I will look where he graded out with PFF, stats, and compare him with two tight ends that went in the first round of the 2017 draft. O.J. Howard(19th pick) and David Njoku(29th pick)This article isn’t the end all be all with this topic, but its to provide some context of his time with the team.
2017 was a time in Giants land. I already went over it, but it was a dreadful time to be a Giants fan. With all the injuries the offense suffered, Evan Engram became the focal point for this offense. Evan Engram played in 15 games that season, racking up 64 catches on 115 targets(55.7 completion percentage) for 722 yards and 6 TDs. He graded out at 62.1 according to PFF, ranking him as the 34th best tight end out of 71. For those wondering what his run-blocking grade was, it was 48.7. Run blocking was never the strongest part of Engram’s game, which was a knocking on him coming out of college.
When you compare his grade against both O.J. Howard and David Njoku, he ranks in the middle of both of them. David Nojku graded out at 66.4(24th out of 71) and O.J. Howard graded out at 61.4(38th out of 71). So based on PFF grades, Evan Performed better than O.J. Howard taking in front of him, but a little worse than David Njoku taken behind him. However when you look at the numbers, Evan Engram had more targets, catches, and yards then both Nojku and Howard. Now Evan having more targets was indicative of the Giants offense, as Evan was the only reliable man out there for Eli.
2018 marked a new era for the Giants, as they hired Dave Gettleman to be the new GM and Pat Shurmur to be the next head coach. A supposed offensive guru, Shurmur was believed to take this offense to next level(we all know how that ended). Unlike 2017, Evan Engram was not able to put together a full campaign. He was held to 11 games, missing weeks 4,5,6, 11, and 12. Even with missing those games, Evan graded out quite well for 2018. He graded out at 76.3, ranking him 6th out of 70. He even increased his run-blocking grade, from 48.7 to 60.8 in 2018. You might say “PFF grading is a joke.” That’s a fine opinion to have, so you can see his stats from 2018 below. In the 11 games he played, he put up some good numbers:
Compare that too O.J. Howard and David Nojku, Evan once again ranked right in the middle of them. O.J. Howard graded out 88.9 ( 2nd out of 70 ) and David Nojku graded out at 66.3( 26th out of 70). So while O.J. Howard and David Njoku switched places in 2018, Evan stayed right where he was while improving on the season he had a year ago(while missing 5 games)
To me, it felt like this was the beginning of Evan finding his way with the team. He improved his run blocking, he improved his overall grade from a season ago, and the only downside was he played in fewer games from a season ago. The Giants spent 2018 learning the system, and in 2019 they were ready to thrive. All of us we’re ready for 2019, and the next step in Evan’s development.
Well 2019 came for Engram, and it was one to forget. He was held to only 8 games, having his season cut short in week 9 due to a foot injury. Before that, he was having some pretty successful games:
For the games he played, he earned a grade of 64.1(31st out of 67) When you look at his stats, it felt like he was in line for his best season to date. The foot injury was unfortunate, but it’s what has hurt him these past 2 seasons. The first 4 games were phenomenal and then the injury seemed to derail his whole season.
It doesn’t feel fair to compare Evan’s grade and stats to the other TE’s, since he didn’t play a full season. On top of that, David Njoku only played in 4 games last season, so the numbers would be all over the place. So if we’re going off who had a better 2019 health-wise, that would be O.J. Howard.
I’ve decided against comparing grades in this section, as it’s only been 2 weeks. Plus David Njoku is out, so I can only compare Evan to O.J. Howard.
With that said, Evan’s 2020 season has been off to a rocky start. His week 1 was one to forget. On 7 targets, he only caught 2 for 9 yards. This was not the first game anyone expected for Evan, especially with me being a huge believer in Evan. He did bounce back in week 2, catching 6 passes for 65 yards. He’s currently graded out at at 49.3, ranking as the 67th best tight end according to PFF. Hopefully, this was the start of Evan trending upward, but only time will tell on that one. It seems Evan could be getting more reps at WR, and that could be a change that suites him nicely. That will be one thing to monitor for the remainder of the season.
Is Evan Engram A Bust?
I circle back to the main point of this article, is Evan Engram a bust? don’t believe Evan Engram is bust, I believe its deeper than that. Evan Engram is a matchup nightmare for most linebackers, his speed is something they struggle to catch up with, and you saw that last season in week 3 when he took that simple drag play to the house.
The one problem with his game is his run blocking ability. It has improved, but it isn’t what the Giants need out of their tight ends. In Chicago, the Giants giving him reps at WR could signal that they are seeing his performance at that position. Many people feel a switch to WR can be the spark that ignites the true potential out of him. The Giants do have a true tight end in Kaden Smith, so it is within reason they make this a permanent move. People may want the Giants to trade Evan and turn the profit on him, but they shouldn’t this year. Give this the rest of this season, and see where we stand once the season ends. I believe Evan Engram can turn it around, and I also believe Joe Judge is the coach to do it. Time is not on Engram’s side, he needs to prove his potential now if he wants to be a Giant long term.
Note- All Grades are from Pro Football Focus.