The Giants came out of this weekend’s NFL Draft with six players, some of which have the potential to jump in as starters from day one. One of those players is first round pick Evan Engram, the tight end from Ole Miss who the Giants selected with the 23rd overall selection. Engram will join a tight end group consisting of Rhett Ellison, Will Tye, Jerell Adams, and Matt LaCosse.
Analysis of Giants Tight End Evan Engram
Engram was projected by most to be a day two pick, so it is no wonder that some Giants fans were not happy when Roger Goodell announced the Ole Miss tight end’s name with the 23rd selection of the draft. However, there is a lot to be excited about with the 22-year old from Powder Springs, Georgia.
At 6-foot-3, 234 pounds, Engram provides Eli Manning with another big target (along with newly-signed Brandon Marshall). Wth his immense speed, Engram is far from your prototypical tight end. Although he doesn’t have the size of a traditional tight end, he makes up for it with his athletic ability. His acceleration out of his breaks, along with his ability to line up anywhere in the offensive front will make it nearly impossible for linebackers to guard him. Many opposing defenses will be forced to deploy defensive backs against Engram which should help free up the field for New York’s receivers. Engram will also help the Giants stretch the middle of the field, as the tight end serves as a legitimate deep threat.
“He’s a matchup nightmare. He can block on the perimeter. He’ll be an immediate impact player,” NFL.com’s Mike Mayock wrote after the first round. “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.'”
In four years at Ole Miss, Engram caught 162 passes for 2,320 yards and 15 touchdowns. He ended his college career as the Rebels’ all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns by a tight end. Engram was the first player in school history to earn All-SEC honors four times, twice as both a first and second team selection. Last season, the senior captain was also named a first team All-American, and was the recipient of the Ozzie Newsome Award as the nation’s top tight end.
Engram wowed scouts at the NFL Combine when he ran a 4.42 40-yard dash, which was faster than all other participating tight ends, along with all but four wide receivers. Many experts have compared the Ole Miss tight end to Washington’s Jordan Reed, which is not that surprising considering the two match up almost perfectly in height and weight. But to put it into perspective, Reed ran a 4.72 40-yard dash at the combine. Engram also completed 19 reps in the bench press, while the Redskins’ tight end was able to do just 16. I’m not saying Engram is guaranteed to be as good as Reed, who is one of the top tight ends in the NFL, but under the tutelage of Ben McAdoo and tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride, Engram has the potential to be a truly special player in the Giants’ offense.
While the pass catching ability is certainly there, Engram will need to improve on his blocking before the season begins. With the addition of Ellison to the tight end group, New York will not need to rely on Engram as much in the blocking game. However if the young tight end wants to see the field as much as possible during his rookie campaign, he will need to get better in both pass protection and run blocking. If he can do this, it will essentially force McAdoo to leave him in the game, no matter the situation.
One of the most underrated characteristics of Engram is his leadership both on and off the field. The tight end served as a captain of the Rebels for two seasons, and has been praised as a true leader. We all know how much Jerry Reese likes “character” guys, and Engram seems to fit the bill perfectly. He will bring an amazing work ethic to New York, something that everyone in the organization will truly appreciate.
Although many have knocked Reese for his selection of a tight end in the first round with several of the top offensive linemen still available, I am a fan of the pick. Engram will provide Eli with another reliable target in an offense that already boasts one of the league’s top wide receivers in Odell Beckham Jr., one of last year’s top offensive rookies in Sterling Shepard, and the veteran Marshall. Adding Engram to the mix makes this Giants’ offense downright lethal.
So welcome to the Big Apple, Evan! We are excited to have you, and cannot wait to see what you can do on the field.