New York Giants’ general manager Jerry Reese has come under fire this season as part of the criticism for the team’s dismal performance. The debate over how much blame should fall at Reese’s feet or whether his job should be in jeopardy is for another time.
This is to talk about two decisions that Reese has made that have gone spectacularly right this year — namely selecting Evan Engram and Dalvin Tomlinson in the 2017 draft.
Both players were surprises to analysts and observers at large, but both have quickly become huge pieces for the Giants, and have made Pro Football Focus’ “All Rookie” team half-way through the season.
PFF Grade: 50.3
Elite Stat: Over the last four weeks, Engram has 2.26 yards per route run which is fourth-best for tight ends.
It took injuries to the Giants wide receivers for Engram to become a big part of the offense, but he’s taken advantage. Engram is the only tight end with 30 or more yards after the catch in each of the last three games. He also has a touchdown in each of those three games. His run blocking has brought his grade down, but in almost every statistical category he leads the rookie tight ends.
Reese envisioned just such a weapon when drafting Engram. He said this after the selection:
“I think that he opens up a lot of things,” Reese said. “We just feel like – Jordan Reed is a good example of a tight end that is hard to handle, one of those undersized tight ends that is hard to handle for linebackers and safeties and this guy is probably cut in that same kind of cloth and this guy is really fast. This is a fast, receiving tight end.”
Engram isn’t just the most productive rookie tight end in the NFL, but one of the most productive tight ends in he league period. He currently ranks eighth in receptions, seventh in yards, and is tied for fourth in touchdowns.
Perhaps more importantly, he is giving the team plays like these:
Evan Engram. Bursts with sudden first step after move, physical on his stem-- doesn't allow DB to push him to the sideline, jumps into the DB which hinders DB from getting up, high points the ball, gets feet in bounds. pic.twitter.com/OV9ftibnHD— Ted Nguyen (@RaidersAnalysis) November 8, 2017
As Ed Valentine notes, Engram’s increased role in the offense has him on pace for a historic rookie season.
PFF Grade: 83.7
Elite Stat: Tomlinson has 13 run stops which leads all rookie defensive tackles.
While the Giants run defense hasn’t lived up to expectations, Tomlinson against the run has exceeded his. He is coming off of his first four-run stop performance. His 15.4 run stop percentage this past week was the second-best for all defensive tackles. He has also made more of an impact as a pass-rusher in recent weeks. He has five hurries in the last two games compared to two over the first six.
“We thought he was a terrific pick right here right now at this point in the draft,” Reese said.
At the time of the scouting combine, rumors quickly swirled that Tomlinson had knocked the interview portion out of the park for many teams, something Reese confirmed after selecting him in the second round.
“We interviewed him at the combine. He was one of the best interviews we thought out of the entire combine. . . When he left the room, everyone was like, ‘wow, that was pretty impressive.'”
“He’s a two-gap type player. He can hold the point of attack, has that NFL toughness that we like and the profile that we like,” Reese said. “He’s a New York Giant kind of player.”
Tomlinson is a player I loved coming out of the draft and was thrilled to see drafted by the Giants. His game at Alabama reminded me of Damon Harrison and I believed (and still do) that he has untapped upside as a pass rusher.
Regardless of what happens with Jerry Reese going forward, it looks as though he has added a pair of good young players to the team.