2019 Giants training camp preview: Tight ends
The New York Giants will have a battle at the tight end position when training camp begins later this month.
While the first two spots are already secured by Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison, there is still one more tight end spot that needs to be decided.
The three candidates for that role will be C.J. Conrad, Scott Simonson and Garrett Dickerson. It’ll be Conrad and Simonson who are really the ones with the best chance to nab the No. 3 spot.
Let’s find out where each tight end stands with training camp right around the corner, and examine who has the best shot to make the roster behind Engram and Ellison.
A knee injury and an overall slow start put a damper on Engram’s second season as a whole, but the young tight end did emerge late and finished the 2018 campaign strong.
Engram totaled 45 catches for 577 yards and three touchdowns, with 320 of those yards and one touchdown coming in the last four games. The Giants will be hoping that last four-game stretch is a sign of things to come in his third season.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Giants use Engram, as his wide receiver-like skills will enable head coach Pat Shurmur to use him in in a variety of ways, lining him up all over the field.
One thing’s for certain: Engram will be vital to the Giants’ passing attack and he should be in for a big season if he can stay healthy. He’s one of the keys to the Giants replacing Odell Beckham Jr.’s production.
The current No. 2 tight end for the Giants, Ellison was a factor in the passing game last season with Engram dealing with injuries and inconsistency. We might see more of the same from him this season, with Engram being used in different ways.
Ellison had his best year as a pro in 2018, nabbing 25 catches for 272 yards and one touchdown. His catches and yards were both career-highs, and he has become one of the most reliable pair of hands in the Giants’ arsenal.
What’s his secret? Ellison compares himself to “a dog in the park” when a pass gets thrown his way, meaning when the rare opportunity presents itself to make a catch, Ellison sees it as a reward and makes the most of his targets.
While that’s all well and good, Ellison’s primary focus will be as a blocking tight end, a specialty in which he excels at with the best of them in the league. Any contribution beyond that from the 30-year-old is a bonus — or a treat, if you will.
An undrafted free agent out of Kentucky who fell out of the draft as a result of what was thought to be a serious heart ailment, Conrad was picked up by the Giants when it was discovered he had an enlarged pulmonary artery. Doctors later cleared him and suggested regular check-ups to observe the condition.
Conrad got off to a rough start during the offseason workout program, but has since rebounded in a big way and now stands as the favorite for the Giants’ No. 3 tight end spot.
The 6-foot-4, 248-pound tight end has been reeling in everything thrown his way since his rocky beginning and even earned first-team reps along with fellow rookie and wide receiver, Darius Slayton.
Conrad’s emergence was certainly unexpected and has since pushed Scott Simonson to the brink of not making the roster for 2019. General manager Dave Gettleman might have found himself a diamond in the rough with Conrad, especially if he can prove to be an effective blocker at this level.
Simonson was nothing more than a rotational player for the G-Men last season, as he saw just 14 targets and turned them into nine catches for 86 yards and a score.
The journeyman tight end’s value lies in his blocking, but that might not be enough for him to make the roster.
Simonson has to stave-off a challenge from the undrafted Conrad, who has made waves throughout the spring and now looks like the favorite to take Simonson’s spot.
It looks like the only hope Simonson has is for Conrad to prove to be an absolutely abysmal blocker, and so far that doesn’t seem to be the case. Conrad has the size and toughness to get it done, which means that Simonson’s days are likely numbered.
Now in his second season, the undrafted Dickerson was back-and-forth with the Giants last year between the active roster and the practice squad. The Northwestern product got into only four games and didn’t contribute anything on offense.
In total, Dickerson saw 16 snaps, with 14 of them coming on offense and the other two on special teams. To say Dickerson faces an uphill battle in making the Giants’ roster with their current stable of tight ends would be an understatement.
Unfortunately for Dickerson, it looks like it’ll be more of the same story in 2019, with the 6-foot-3, 248-pound tight end likely spending his year on the practice squad. He does have a chance to get on the active roster if injuries occur, though.