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The 9 Greatest New York Giants Tight Ends Of All-Time


jeremy shockey ny giants tight end

jeremy shockey ny giants tight end. Photo by Greg M. Coope / US Presswire

Could Evan Engram end up on this list of the greatest New York Giants tight ends of all-time?

The early buzz around New York Giants first round pick Evan Engram is he could be one of the franchise’s greatest. So, let’s take a quick look at what the Ole Miss weapon would have to accomplish to land on the list of greatest Giants tight ends of all-time.

If you were to tell me the Giants were going to select a tight end in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, I would’ve guessed a trade up to get Alabama’s O.J. Howard or Miami’s David Njoku. If not the first round, maybe they’d scoop up a TE in a later round: South Alabama’s Gerald Everett or Virginia Tech’s Bucky Hodges or Michigan’s Jake Butt.

Evan Engram didn’t even cross my mind, even though he was the third highest graded prospect at his position.

But, after watching Engram’s various highlight packages…

…it appears the Giants have a legit playmaker. By now, Giants fans must be sick of hearing the comparisons to Washington tight end Jordan Reed. Yet, given how many times Reed has burned the G-Men, having a Reed of our own should make Big Blue’s red zone blues blow away.

Looking at the list of greatest Giants tight ends, Engram doesn’t have too steep a mountain to climb. It’s not too tall an order. The opportunity to ascend the rankings is there. I can only hope me jinxing the shiz out of him won’t impact his productivity.

Here’s who Engram has in front of him…

gary shirk ny giants tight end

gary shirk ny giants tight end

9. Gary Shirk

Thought Morehead State only produced one great Giant? Turns out there’s one more other than Phil Simms. Gary Shirk played seven seasons for the G-Men, starting 62 of 101 games.

Shirk’s first season with the Giants didn’t come until he was 26 years old. He played two seasons for the Memphis Southmen before signing with the G-Men.

Gary’s best season came in 1981 when he caught 42 passes for 445 yards and three touchdowns. He only played in one playoff game, failing to register any stats.

The 1982 strike-shortened season would be Shirk’s last as a Giant. He was released during the 1983 preseason due to the emergence of rookie Zeke Mowatt.

Game Game Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece
Year G GS Rec Yds Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G Ctch% Fmb AV
1976 14 1 4 52 13.0 1 31 0.3 3.7 0.0% 0 0
1977 14 10 16 280 17.5 2 64 1.1 20.0 0.0% 4 3
1978 16 7 10 127 12.7 2 45 0.6 7.9 0.0% 0 1
1979 16 15 31 471 15.2 2 61 1.9 29.4 0.0% 2 4
1980 16 14 21 211 10.0 1 21 1.3 13.2 0.0% 2 2
1981 16 14 42 445 10.6 3 46 2.6 27.8 0.0% 1 4
1982 9 1 6 54 9.0 0 19 0.7 6.0 0.0% 0 1
Care 101 62 130 1640 12.6 11 64 1.3 16.2 9 15

Kevin Boss ny giants tight end

PHOENIX, AZ – FEBRUARY 03: Kevin Boss #89 of the New York Giants runs with the ball during Super Bowl XLII against the New England Patriots on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)

8. Kevin Boss

How promising was Kevin Boss’s performances in the 2007-08 postseason? Enough to send incumbent starter Jeremy Shockey to the Saints in a late July trade before the 2008 season.

Sure, it wasn’t the quantity of catches for Boss, but the quality of plays. His 45 yard catch and run in the Super Bowl against the Patriots set the Giants up within scoring range in New England territory. That drive led to a David Tyree touchdown that put the Giants ahead early in the fourth quarter.

With Shockey gone, Boss assumed the starting role for the next three seasons before signing a big, fat free agent contract with the Oakland Raiders. From 2008 – 2010, Boss averaged 2.43 receptions per game and nearly 33 yards per contest.

Where the Western Oregon product excelled most was in the red zone. Boss caught 16 touchdown passes in 43 starts over three seasons. Kevin’s best regular season game came in the pre-Thanksgiving matchup against the Atlanta Falcons in a 34-31 win. Boss corralled five passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns.

In his final year with the G-Men, Boss’s catch percentage dropped to 50, the lowest of his tenure with Big Blue, despite seeing a career-high in targets. However, he did enjoy his highest yards per reception that season.

Boss’s place on this list might be a hot topic of debate. Was his production a result of talent or of Eli Manning’s prowess? Considering the Giants haven’t gotten similar production from the likes of Larry Donnell and Will Tye, it’s tough to say. Boss’s drop-off with the Raiders and Chiefs indicates it was more Eli than Kevin.

Receiving & Rushing Table
Game Game Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece
Year Tm G GS Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G Ctch% Fmb AV
2007 NYG 13 2 14 9 118 13.1 2 23 0.7 9.1 64.3% 0 1
2008 NYG 15 15 55 33 384 11.6 6 28 2.2 25.6 60.0% 0 4
2009 NYG 15 15 69 42 567 13.5 5 35 2.8 37.8 60.9% 0 5
2010 NYG 15 13 70 35 531 15.2 5 54 2.3 35.4 50.0% 1 4
Care 74 58 251 150 2033 13.6 22 54 2.0 27.5 1 17
4 yr NYG 58 45 208 119 1600 13.4 18 54 2.1 27.6 1 14
1 yr KAN 2 2 3 3 65 21.7 1 29 1.5 32.5 0 0
1 yr OAK 14 11 40 28 368 13.1 3 35 2.0 26.3 0 3

joe walton ny giants tight end

Football: New York Giants Joe Walton (80) in action, attempting catch vs Cleveland Browns Don Fleming (46) at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Cleveland, OH 11/26/1961 CREDIT: Neil Leifer (Photo by Neil Leifer /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

7. Joe Walton

The future New York Jets coach and Giants offensive coordinator began his playing career with the Washington R-words in 1957 at the age of 22. While his rookie season was quiet, Walton had a breakout year the next as he caught 32 passes for 532 yards and five receiving touchdowns in 12 games.

Walton would sign with the Giants in 1961 at the age of 26. He’d put up career-high numbers that first campaign, catching 36 passes for 544 yards.

The G-Men had the NFL’s fourth best passing attack in Walton’s first year on the team, thanks to Pro Bowler Y.A. Tittle. The team finished 10-3-1 that year, winning the NFL East, but losing the NFL Championship to the Green Bay Packers 37-0.

Walton’s best regular season outing came against his former team, the R-words in the seventh game of 1962. Joe caught six passes for 63 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-34 win. You might recall this was the game that Y.A. Tittle tossed seven touchdown passes, a record that’s been tied seven times, but never broken.

His top postseason performance came during the 1962 NFL Championship when the Giants fell to the Packers in a 16-7 loss. Walton had five receptions for 75 yards.

Over the next two seasons with Big Blue, Walton’s final years as a pro, Joe’s total output would subtly decline year-over-year. Of the tight ends on this list, Walton averaged the most touchdowns per season.

Receiving & Rushing Table
Game Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece
Year Tm G Rec Yds Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G RRTD Fmb AV
1961 NYG 12 36 544 15.1 2 37 3.0 45.3 2 1 6
1962 NYG 13 33 406 12.3 9 37 2.5 31.2 9 1 5
1963 NYG 12 26 371 14.3 6 43 2.2 30.9 6 0 5
Care 82 178 2628 14.8 28 43 2.2 32.0 28 4 21
4 yr WAS 45 83 1307 15.7 11 41 1.8 29.0 11 2 5
3 yr NYG 37 95 1321 13.9 17 43 2.6 35.7 17 2 16

Zeke Mowatt giants tight end

UNITED STATES – JANUARY 25: Football: Super Bowl XXI, New York Giants Zeke Mowatt (84) in action, scoring touchdown vs Denver Broncos, Pasadena, CA 1/25/1987 (Photo by Andy Hayt/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

6. Zeke Mowatt

Zeeeeeeeeeke! The Florida State Seminole saw 30 of his 58 starts come in his first two NFL seasons. His best effort came in his second year, 1984, when he snagged 48 receptions for 698 yards and six touchdowns, all career bests.

Mowatt’s best regular season game was a 28-27 win over the Kansas City Chiefs the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 1984. Zeke snagged seven tosses for 126 yards and the game-winning touchdown catch. The G-Men were down 27-14 in the fourth before staging the comeback.

After missing the 1985 season, Mowatt would become a backup over the next three seasons to Mark Bavaro. When Bavaro missed half of the 1989 season, Mowatt stepped in, but averaged less than two receptions per game.

Zeke missed out on adding a second Super Bowl ring when he signed with the New England Patriots in 1990. He’d return to the Giants in 1991, his last season as a pro.

In six playoff games, Mowatt had 17 catches for 209 and two touchdowns, both of which came in the dominant 1987 Super Bowl run. The bulk of his postseason productivity came in the ’85 playoffs when he caught 12 balls for 122 yards in two contests.

Was there anything better than hearing Pat Summerall call Zeke’s name?

Year Tm G GS Rec Yds Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G Fmb AV
1983 NYG 16 14 21 280 13.3 1 46 1.3 17.5 0 2
1984 NYG 16 16 48 698 14.5 6 34 3.0 43.6 0 5
1986 NYG 16 5 10 119 11.9 2 30 0.6 7.4 1 1
1987 NYG 12 1 3 39 13.0 1 29 0.3 3.3 0 0
1988 NYG 16 3 15 196 13.1 1 38 0.9 12.3 2 2
1989 NYG 16 11 27 288 10.7 0 31 1.7 18.0 1 3
1991 NYG 16 8 5 78 15.6 1 33 0.3 4.9 0 1
Care 118 58 135 1765 13.1 12 46 1.1 15.0 5 14
7 yr NYG 108 58 129 1698 13.2 12 46 1.2 15.7 4 14

5. Howard Cross

The Alabama Crimson Tide Hall of Famer was Big Blue’s starting tight end from 1991 – 1999. Selected in the sixth round of the 1989 NFL Draft, Cross played 13 seasons for the Giants and was one of the best blocking tight ends in the game during that span.

Not normally relied upon as a receiving target, Howard’s best games as a pass-catcher came in the second week of the 1992 season against the Dallas Cowboys. In that meeting, Cross caught six passes for 77 yards and a touchdown.

He played in two Super Bowls, winning one against the Bills in January 1991 and losing one to the Ravens in January 2001. Cross had his best postseason performance in Super Bowl XXV when he caught four passes for 39 yards in the 20-19 win.

His blocking paved the way for the likes of O.J. Anderson, Dave Meggett, Rodney Hampton, Charles Way, Gary Brown, Tiki Barber, and Ron Dayne.

Game Game Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece
Year G GS Rec Yds Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G Fmb AV
1989 16 4 6 107 17.8 1 27 0.4 6.7 1 1
1990 16 8 8 106 13.3 0 21 0.5 6.6 0 1
1991 16 16 20 283 14.2 2 30 1.3 17.7 1 3
1992 16 16 27 357 13.2 2 29 1.7 22.3 2 4
1993 16 16 21 272 13.0 5 32 1.3 17.0 0 3
1994 16 16 31 364 11.7 4 40 1.9 22.8 0 3
1995 15 15 18 197 10.9 0 26 1.2 13.1 0 2
1996 16 16 22 178 8.1 1 19 1.4 11.1 1 1
1997 16 16 21 150 7.1 2 26 1.3 9.4 1 1
1998 16 16 13 90 6.9 0 22 0.8 5.6 2 1
1999 16 15 9 55 6.1 0 12 0.6 3.4 0 0
2000 16 11 4 30 7.5 0 18 0.3 1.9 0 0
2001 16 6 1 5 5.0 0 5 0.1 0.3 0 0
Care 207 171 201 2194 10.9 17 40 1.0 10.6 8 20

aaron thomas ny giants tight end

Giants Beat Eagles — Aaron Thomas # 88 of giants grabs a Tittle pass, a play which gained 40 yards before he was nailed by Jimmy Carr #21, of Eagles, on their three yard line. November 12, 1963. (Photo by William N. Jacobellis/New York Post Archives / (c) NYP Holdings, Inc. via Getty Images)

4. Aaron Thomas

The San Francisco 49ers drafted Thomas in the fourth round of the 1961 NFL Draft and played two games for the Niners in his second year before going to the Giants.

Thomas would spend eight more seasons with Big Blue, amassing 4,253 receiving yards (2nd most among Giants tight ends) and 35 touchdowns (most among Giants tight ends) on 247 receptions (4th among Giants tight ends).

Aaron was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1964 when he led the team in catches (43),  yards (624) and receiving touchdowns (6). Yet, that wasn’t his most productive campaign.

The following season in 1965, Thomas led the NFL in yards per reception, out-gaining his Pro Bowl season in yardage on 16 less receptions. He was second on the team in receptions, yards, and receiving touchdowns behind Homer Jones.

Thomas would outdo his yardage again in 1966, but fell to third on the team in receiving stats behind Homer Jones and Joe Morrison. Then, Aaron had a monster year in 1967. That season saw Thomas register career highs in receptions (team high 51), yards (877, 2nd on team), and touchdowns (9, 2nd on team), making it his most valuable in a Giants uni.

Determining Aaron’s best regular season game is up for debate, but here’s his top three:

Thomas had five 2-TD games with the G-Men, twice against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Game Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece
Year Age Tm G Rec Yds Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G Fmb AV
1962 25 2TM 14 4 80 20.0 0 37 0.3 5.7 0 1
SFO 2 0 0 0 0 0.0 0.0 0 0
NYG 12 4 80 20.0 0 37 0.3 6.7 0 1
1963 26 NYG 14 22 469 21.3 3 55 1.6 33.5 0 6
1964* 27 NYG 14 43 624 14.5 6 42 3.1 44.6 1 5
1965 28 NYG 13 27 631 23.4 5 71 2.1 48.5 1 7
1966 29 NYG 14 43 683 15.9 4 50 3.1 48.8 0 7
1967 30 NYG 14 51 877 17.2 9 48 3.6 62.6 0 13
1968 31 NYG 12 29 449 15.5 4 49 2.4 37.4 0 6
1969 32 NYG 10 22 348 15.8 3 37 2.2 34.8 0 4
1970 33 NYG 14 6 92 15.3 1 29 0.4 6.6 0 1
Care Care 133 262 4554 17.4 37 71 2.0 34.2 3 53
9 yr 9 yr NYG 117 247 4253 17.2 35 71 2.1 36.4 2 50
2 yr 2 yr SFO 16 15 301 20.1 2 70 0.9 18.8 1 3

Here’s Thomas hauling in a touchdown pass from YA Tittle against the Eagles.


bob tucker ny giants tight end

PITTSBURGH, PA – CIRCA 1976: Bob Tucker #38 of the New York Giants circa 1976 at Three Rivers Staium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Tucker played for the Giants1970-77. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Sporting News via Getty Images)

3. Bob Tucker

Bob Tucker joined the Giants at the age of 25. Prior to that, he spent a few seasons with the Lowell Giants and Pottstown Firebirds of the Atlantic Coast Football League, a minor league farm system for the NFL and AFL.

Tucker leads all Giants tight ends in receiving yards, is second in receptions, and fourth in receiving touchdowns.

The Bloomsburg alum had 40 or more receptions per year for six of the first seven seasons with the G-Men. In his first year with Big Blue, he led the team in receiving touchdowns and was second in receiving yards.

From a numbers standpoint, Tucker’s best season was in 1971 when he led all Giants receivers with 59 receptions for 791 yards and four touchdowns in only 12 games.

Tucker’s most valuable season was in 1972 when he collected 55 pass attempts for 764 yards (both team-highs) and four touchdowns. He’d lead the Giants in catches, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns in 1973.

In 1974, no other Giants receiver gained more yards through the air than Tucker. After a subpar ’75 campaign, Tucker again led the roster in receptions and receiving yards.

Tucker never made it to the playoffs with the Giants, but appeared in four postseason meetings with Minnesota.

Game Game Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece
Year Age Tm G GS Rec Yds Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G Fmb AV
1970 25 NYG 14 13 40 571 14.3 5 41 2.9 40.8 0 8
1971 26 NYG 12 12 59 791 13.4 4 63 4.9 65.9 3 7
1972 27 NYG 14 14 55 764 13.9 4 39 3.9 54.6 4 12
1973 28 NYG 14 14 50 681 13.6 5 33 3.6 48.6 2 7
1974 29 NYG 13 13 41 496 12.1 2 29 3.2 38.2 1 6
1975 30 NYG 14 14 34 484 14.2 1 47 2.4 34.6 1 5
1976 31 NYG 14 14 42 498 11.9 1 39 3.0 35.6 1 5
1977 32 2TM 13 4 15 200 13.3 2 29 1.2 15.4 1 2
NYG 5 4 6 91 15.2 0 22 1.2 18.2 1 1
MIN 8 0 9 109 12.1 2 29 1.1 13.6 0 1
Care Care 156 142 422 5421 12.8 27 63 2.7 34.8 17 61
8 yr 8 yr NYG 100 98 327 4376 13.4 22 63 3.3 43.8 13 51
4 yr 4 yr MIN 56 44 95 1045 11.0 5 35 1.7 18.7 4 10

2. Mark Bavaro

The Giants selected Notre Dame tight end Mark Bavaro in the fourth round of the 1985 NFL Draft. After a decent rookie season in ’85, Bavaro would get selected to back-to-back Pro Bowls in 1986 and 1987.

In ’86, Bavaro led all Giants receivers with 66 receptions and 1,001 yards. His four receiving touchdowns were only second to Bobby Johnson. Bavaro would lead the team in all three categories in the strike-shortened 1987 campaign.

Bavaro’s best regular season effort was a 35-30 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in October 1985. Mark caught 12 balls for 176 yards on a day when Phil Simms threw for a franchise record 513 yards on 62 passes (a record only surpassed by Eli Manning in December 2016).

When it comes to Bavaro’s best playoff game, you could make a strong case for the 17-3 win over the 49ers in their 1985 NFC Wild Card contest. Mark notched five receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown.

Or you could argue for Bavaro’s performance in the Super XXI win over the Broncos, when he had four grabs for 51 yards and a score. He also had another touchdown bounce off his hands that Phil McConkey saved for a touchdown.

We’ll just go ahead and forget the fact he went to Philly for a season.

Game Game Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece Rece
Year Tm G GS Rec Yds Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G Fmb AV
1985 NYG 16 16 37 511 13.8 4 32 2.3 31.9 0 5
1986*+ NYG 16 15 66 1001 15.2 4 41 4.1 62.6 3 11
1987*+ NYG 12 12 55 867 15.8 8 38 4.6 72.3 2 7
1988 NYG 16 15 53 672 12.7 4 36 3.3 42.0 1 6
1989 NYG 7 7 22 278 12.6 3 29 3.1 39.7 0 3
1990 NYG 15 15 33 393 11.9 5 61 2.2 26.2 0 4
Care 126 123 351 4733 13.5 39 61 2.8 37.6 6 45
6 yr NYG 82 80 266 3722 14.0 28 61 3.2 45.4 6 36
2 yr PHI 28 27 60 696 11.6 9 27 2.1 24.9 0 6
1 yr CLE 16 16 25 315 12.6 2 39 1.6 19.7 0 3

1. Jeremy Shockey

The four-time Pro Bowler only played six seasons for the Giants, but his 371 receptions is tops among the franchise’s tight ends. Shockey’s third among Giants tight ends in receiving yards behind Tucker and Thomas, and third in receiving touchdowns behind Bavaro and Thomas. In franchise history, number 80’s receptions per game and yards per game are number 1 at the position.

J-Shock’s most productive regular season outing came in November of his last season with the G-Men. On that day, he caught 12 balls for 129 yards and a touchdown in a 31-20 loss the Dallas Cowboys. The former Miami Hurricane had six double-digit catch games and eight 100-yard games over the handful of regular seasons with Big Blue.

Jeremy’s most productive season with the Giants was his rookie year in 2002 when he made the Pro Bowl and was voted First Team All-Pro. The Oklahoman Monster caught 74 passes for 894 yards (2nd among Giants receivers).

Shockey’s 61 receptions and six receiving touchdowns led all Giants targets in 2004. He finished in a three-way tie for most receiving touchdowns in 2005 with newcomer Plaxico Burress and veteran Amani Toomer while putting up the second highest yardage in his career. Shock also led the team in receptions the following season in 2006.

His best postseason performance was also the most bittersweet: The excruciating 39-38 loss to the 49ers in the 2003 NFC Wild Card. In that matchup, Shockey had seven catches for 68 yards and a touchdown, but it was the dropped touchdown that haunts Giants fans most.

Year Tm G GS Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G Ctch% Fmb AV
2002*+ NYG 15 14 128 74 894 12.1 2 30 4.9 59.6 57.8% 3 8
2003* NYG 9 9 70 48 535 11.1 2 46 5.3 59.4 68.6% 1 3
2004 NYG 15 15 97 61 666 10.9 6 38 4.1 44.4 62.9% 1 6
2005* NYG 15 15 121 65 891 13.7 7 59 4.3 59.4 53.7% 0 10
2006* NYG 15 15 115 66 623 9.4 7 25 4.4 41.5 57.4% 0 7
2007 NYG 14 14 93 57 619 10.9 3 29 4.1 44.2 61.3% 0 6
Care 136 129 884 547 6143 11.2 37 66 4.0 45.2 9 59
6 yr NYG 83 82 624 371 4228 11.4 27 59 4.5 50.9 5 40
3 yr NOR 38 34 198 139 1460 10.5 6 66 3.7 38.4 2 15
1 yr CAR 15 13 62 37 455 12.3 4 29 2.5 30.3 2 4

***

It’s hard to see how Evan Engram gets a ton of touches in his first couple years with Brandon Marshall, Odell Beckham, and Sterling Shepard craving targets. But, if Engram can give the Giants more than six seasons, he should become their greatest tight end in franchise history. No pressure or anything, right?

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