By Michael Stewart/@golferbad
Introduction: This is part 5 of 5 in a series showcasing my top 5 positional battles once training camp begins. The final positional battle I had a hard time choosing between the wide receiver position and the tight end position; as both should have fierce competition regarding the backup roles. I ultimately decided on the tight end position mostly due to the fact that projected starter Evan Engram has not been able to stay on the field long enough for the Giants to benefit from his talents. Therefore; if this continues to be the case, then the battle for 2nd and 3rd tight ends on the depth chart will be expected to pick up the load and provide more production. It’s no secret what a healthy Engram could bring to the Giants offensive; especially with new Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett. If Engram is healthy and assumes his #1 spot at Tight End, then the Giants will have an extremely talented group of tight ends: Let’s take a look at the projected backups and what their roles could look like:
- Kaden Smith: The Giants picked up Smith off waivers last season from the San Francisco 49ers and provided a small sample in the 2nd half of the season. Among the remaining Tight Ends, Smith appears to be more complete with his blocking and receiving abilities over the other candidates
- Levine Toilolo: Toilolo is another former 49er who the Giants signed as a free agent in the off season. At 6’8 and weighing 270 pounds, Toilolo is more of a extra linemen rather than a tight end as his strengths are as a blocker. However; don’t be mislead by his lack of offensive production as Toilolo is very capable of being a possession Tight End able to move the chains.
- Eric Tomlinson: Tomlinson played for the Oakland Raiders in 2019 and performed well enough that the Giants saw something in him to sign him as a free agent. Tomlinson is more of a blocking Tight End and must prove to the Giants coaches that his game is more diversified to warrant not only a spot on the roster. But a chance to be considered the #3 Tight End.
- Kyle Markway: Markway is a UDFA signee who realistically needs to showcase his ability to be placed on the practice squad. Markway has too many quality Tight Ends in front of him to expect a spot on the final 53 man roster. Markway will have plenty of competition with a few other tight ends in camp to make the practice squad, so he needs to bring his “A” game from day one.
- Garrett Dickerson: Dickerson has been with the Giants for a couple of years now and mostly as a part of the practice squad. This year is definitely a make or break year for him, not only to stay with the Giants, but to stay in the NFL. Dickerson does have some quality attributes to his game as he is serviceable at both blocking and receiving. However; will that be enough for him to somehow make the final cuts or return to the practice squad? The odds are against him on both.
- Rysen John: John could be one of the most intriguing UDFA signings for the Giants in camp this season. At 6’7 and weighing 240, John played wide receiver in college and is looking to transition over to tight end in 2020. John could have the longest shot of any tight end to make the final roster, but that doesn’t mean that he is not in the Giants future plans. John is the perfect candidate to be placed on the practice squad with proper development and adding more weight and strength to his 6’7 frame. The Giants could have their future tight end already in camp.
Final Thoughts: The Evan Engram health watch will be one of the main storylines entering camp and there’s no doubt that 2020 is a make or break year for the 2017 1st round pick despite having his 5th year picked up. Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett relies heavily on his tight ends in his offensive system and having a healthy and productive Engram could catapult the Giants offense into the top tier in the league along with Saquon Barkley in the running game. The Giants could keep four Tight Ends and utilize one as an H-back more and line up in the backfield; which would eliminate the traditional fullback position. For now, we will need to wait and see how the Giants tight end position develops once training camp begins.