There are so many players whose careers were hampered by injuries, ultimately diminishing their chances of ever rubbing shoulders with some of the other greatest to ever play the game of football.
Yes, that is quite an odd way to talk about second-year tight-end Evan Engram, who quite frankly isn’t even close to being a ‘Hall of Famer’ yet, nor can we say his career has completely been blighted by injuries. However, he is a very good football player, and he has missed enough games through injury to be somewhat dismissed by opposition fans when the New York Giants roll into their town or city.
Evan Engram is not Saquon Barkley. That’s meant in a sense that he is not on the same level in terms of natural given talent, with very few competitors in the league being able to match Barkley’s sheer athleticism, strength and football IQ combined. However, the 23rd pick out of Ole Miss can be in the bracket below Barkley, making the Pro Bowl year-on-year, and despite missing six games of the 2018 season through a knee injury, still pieced together some very impressive performances that showed glimpses of what he can do when 100% fit.
As per nfl.com, in tight-ends that had more than 40 receptions, Engram ranked 5th in the NFL for yards per reception with 12.8, trailing only George Kittle, Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce and Jared Cook, all of which were named to the 2019 Pro Bowl in Orlando. Better yet, only Kittle ranked above Engram for the aforementioned stat in the NFC, meaning on paper, a slot was there for him this year, above Austin Hooper. In terms of yards per game, Engram ranked 7th in the NFL, sitting behind those five again, plus OJ Howard of the Buccaneers and Zach Ertz from the Eagles.
In terms of yards overall, 577 in 10 games isn’t bad at all. However, if you extrapolated that over the full 16 games, he would have put up around the 923-yard mark, just shy of the 1,000 season which would have put him 4th in the league. That doesn’t even include the fact that he didn’t start three of the ten games he featured in this season, making his game-by-game displays even more special.
Looking at New York Giants records alone, Engram broke the rookie record for touchdowns by a tight-end in 2017 by recording six. Scoring an impressive 76.5 PFF rating last season, he ranked higher than three pro bowl tight-ends; Ebron, Cook, and Austin.
After finishing the 2018 season off strongly, Engram is determined to keep up his form in 2019, telling giants.com: “There were some ups and downs, and you just kind of learn some things through those times and then when I got my opportunities when I was healthy and we were playing good football, I just tried to make the most of it.”
The greatest praise one could give Evan Engram is that he plays like a wide receiver, not just your average tight end. He was compared by Mike Maycock to a ‘young Mike Evans’, given both his strength, route running and overall skill-set.
Engram’s expected output looks set to rise again this season due to one main factor, the loss of a multi-time Pro Bowler in Odell Beckham Jr.
The addition of Golden Tate will fill some of the voids, but the rest of the receiving corps is expected to step up, and with hopefully 16 games under his belt, Engram can wrap up a nice little 1,000-yard season on his way to his first, and probably not the last Pro Bowl.
Featured Image - Photo: Elsa. Getty Images 2018