Tight end production was dismal for the Giants last season. Can their first-rounder turn things around in 2017? Here's a closer look at what to expect...
Projected Starters: Evan Engram
Projected Backups: Will Tye, Rhett Ellison, Jerell Adams
On the Bubble: Matt LaCosse, Colin Thompson
Departures: Larry Donnell, Jerome Cunningham
The tight end position last season for the Giants was a barren wasteland. And that's putting it lightly. Production from this unit was a struggle as the team tried different options each week.
Larry Donnell began the season in the starting role, looking to rebound after an injury-laden 2015 season. However, since putting up 623 yards and six touchdowns in 2014, his play has drastically declined.
Donnell took a big hit in Week 4, sending him to concussion protocol. He lost his starting role and wouldn't see the field much for the rest of the season.
Taking over for Donnell was Will Tye, who turned some heads in his rookie season. He posted 464 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games, and the Giants hoped he could improve on those numbers in a starting role.
Instead, Tye saw worse numbers with more time on the field. In 16 games, he hauled in 48 receptions on 70 targets for 395 yards and one touchdown.
The Giants' seventh-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Jerell Adams played a limited role, tallying 16 receptions for 122 yards and one touchdown in his rookie campaign.
The lack of production was one of the main issues for GM Jerry Reese to approach this offseason. And he acted immediately.
The first acquisition was the Vikings' Rhett Ellison, who the Giants signed to a four-year, $18 million deal. Ellison was an intriguing pickup as he serves more as a blocking tight end with fullback experience as well. The Giants will likely use him in run situations, but he does have reliable hands.
The Giants still desperately needed a playmaker. Luckily, the 2017 NFL Draft was chock-full of tall, athletic tight ends to choose from. Experts had the Giants taking a tight end for the first time since selecting Jeremy Shockey in 2002.
With the 23rd overall pick, they selected Evan Engram out of Ole Miss. It was a shocking pick considering Miami's David Njoku, who the Giants had on their radar, was still on the board.
However, Engram's numbers -- both at the combine and last season -- beg to differ.
Engram led the NCAA in receiving yards for tight ends (926), and was tied first in touchdowns (8) while playing in a tough SEC conference. He also ran the fastest 40-yard dash time for tight ends at the NFL Combine at 4.42 seconds.
Though he stands at 6-foot-3, Engram's 36-inch vertical matched with his speed virtually adds another wide receiver to QB Eli Manning's offense.
Matt LaCosse and undrafted rookie Colin Thompson will battle for backup roles as well. LaCosse turned some heads at OTAs as he is looking to make the roster for the first time in three seasons.
Biggest question heading into camp
As mentioned above, Engram was a surprise to many when the Giants called his name back in April. But his production last season settled the stomach of those worrying Big Blue made a mistake.
So, with Engram in line to start, can he revive the tight end position for the Giants in his rookie season?
His stature invites doubt on his ability to block, but former Giants center Shaun O'Hara believes his toughness can translate well in that area.
"[He's shown a] willingness to block and to finish and strain the way we're asking our guys to strain," O'Hara said. "I don't see him backing down."
His play-making ability, though, has already shined during the Giants' offseason practices. Manning hooked up with him throughout the sessions, and he has players and coaches turning their heads.
NFL Network's Mike Mayock believes Engram's skillset is similar to one of the league's best wide receivers -- not a tight end.
"He's a matchup nightmare," Mayock said. "He can block on the perimeter. He'll be an immediate impact player. His skill set is closer to Mike Evans. He runs routes like a wide receiver. I don't care what you call him. Eli (Manning) is gonna say 'Wow, I love this kid.'"
It will be Engram's job to lose once training camp kicks off. The Giants will pray he is the dynamic player he was drafted to be.
If OTAs and minicamp are examples of his skill, he should be another weapon for Manning to utilize. Engram could be a prime target in the middle of the field with defenses harping on the Giants' receivers.
However, Engram is still a rookie and it will be telling to see how he reacts on the big stage.
Set the bar low for the time being considering the production the Giants have seen at the position for the last two seasons. But don't be surprised to see Manning launching balls to Engram early to get him accustomed to his new team.
Simply put: Engram makes -- or breaks -- this unit this coming season. He will look to emulate Shockey's rookie campaign, where he was selected to the Pro Bowl.