With training camps less than two weeks away — the New York Giants rookies report on July 22nd — we are almost through the dog days of summer and quickly approaching Football Season. But for now, we are still in the midst of List Season, as media outlets churn out lists and rankings to fill time until we start to get a regular influx of actual news from the NFL
(At least news that anyone wants to get. By and large, any news to come out of the NFL this time of year is the kind of news you do not want to be getting)
CBS Sports has been putting together rankings of the top ten players from across the league at various positions. So far one Giant has made their rankings, while another was insultingly snubbed.
At the end of the 2017 pre-season, Aldrick Rosas completed a last second 48-yard field goal to seal a 40-38 win for the New York Giants over the New England Patriots.
That kick, coupled with the impressive range and leg strength shown in practice, likely sealed Rosas’ place on the Giants’ roster. Unfortunately, the 2017 regular season did not go nearly as well for the young kicker as he (or the Giants) might have hoped.
In what was, effectively, Rosas’ rookie season, he completed just 18 of 25 field goal attempts (72 percent) and 20 of 23 extra point attempts (87 percent). Those marks ranked him 31st and last in the NFL, respectively, and many Giants’ fans wanted him replaced in the ensuing off season. Rosas managed to hang on to his roster spot and won the starting job in 2018. The Giants’ faith in him was rewarded as he didn’t just improve on a bad rookie season, but became a legitimate weapon on special teams.
Rosas had a breakout sophomore season, converting 32 of 33 field goal attempts (97.0 percent), including a Giants’ record 57-yard field goal to seal an overtime win against the Chicago Bears. His efforts landed him in the Pro Bowl, but they weren’t good enough for CBS Sports to count him among the top kickers in the game. Interestingly, CBS Sports ranked San Francisco 49ers kicker Robbie Gould second in the league, citing his converting 97.1 percent of his attempts in 2018 — just .1 percent more than Rosas.
Assuming Rosas is able to replicate his 2018 success we will be seeing him on these lists sooner rather than later. The fact that he is 24 years old is a definite plus if the Giants decide to sign him long term.
While Aldrick Rosas may have gotten snubbed, CBS Sports has recognized the threat that Evan Engram presents on offense.
8. Evan Engram, Giants
Engram backslid a bit during his sophomore season amid injuries that limited him to 11 of 16 games. He should take on a larger role in the offense this year, though, after the offseason trade of Odell Beckham Jr. Engram is purely a receiving threat as a tight end, and with 109 catches and nine scores through his first two seasons he has been a productive one. Whether or not he takes the next step will largely depend on whether Eli Manning can rediscover arm talent that is above replacement level, and then whether Engram can develop chemistry with heir apparent quarterback Daniel Jones.
Saying that Engram took a bit of a step back in his sophomore season is a bit misleading. He improved both his hands and blocking throughout 2018. That second part is contrary to the narrative (in which CBS Sports engages), that due to his frame and athleticism, Engram is “purely a receiving tight end”. In fact, Engram is one of the few tight ends to not blow a single block (126 blocking snaps) in 2018.
While the Giants should be judicious in how the scheme him as a blocker — he isn’t an undersized tackle, he is a true hybrid — Engram is reliable in both run blocking and pass protection. The trade off is that he has the ability to be one of the most feared receiving options in the NFL.
Engram’s potential is much greater than 8th on this list. Had he been targeted 156 times (like Zach Ertz, the number two tight end on the list), and all other things remained equal, his stat line would have read 109 catches for 1,402 yards, and 7 touchdowns. That’s pretty not-bad.
Despite having the second lowest average depth of target among tight ends and receivers (per Next Gen Stats), Engram still managed to generate the most separation of any receiver in the NFL (4.4 yards), break 7 tackles, generate the second most yards after the catch (9 yards), and the fourth most yards after the catch above expectation (2.9).
Hopefully the Giants will fully unleash him (and bring back the Stick-Nod route) in 2019.