By Michael Ferro
Name: Evan Engram
Weight: 240 lbs
Position: Tight End
Draft Pick: 23rd overall in First Round
The No. 23 overall pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft seems to have found his ideal team—one where he can truly make a difference from the start of his rookie season. The New York Giants may have ended second in their division last season, missing the playoffs, but an improved offense should afford them the chance at the top spot in 2017. And tight end Evan Engram could offer the team the ability to reach that potential in a focused offense with more passing options.
With a 4.4 40 speed, as well as great catching ability and agility for major yards after the catch, Engram has many analysts predicting that the Giants’ offense could be well improved over the last few years. New York hasn’t had a really great tight end since Mark Bavaro, so being able to plug Engram into the starting lineup should give the Giants the ability to stretch the field for more potency. Unlike some teams, the New York Giants have demonstrated that they are willing to utilize a talented tight end in their passing plays.
At Ole Miss, Engram was one of the most prolific tight ends in the country, catching a team-high 65 balls for 926 yards and eight touchdowns. For his efforts at his alma mater, he was awarded with accolades as first-team All-SEC and All-American. But perhaps what has his coaches and teammates most excited is his explosive speed and maneuverability on the field. Able to twist and open routes, Engram will draw defenders and become another crucial target for Eli Manning, who will also look to Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and second-year receiver Sterling Shepard.
In fact, one of the players most enthusiastic about the addition of Engram is Shepard. The receiver says that with Beckham Jr. and Marshall commanding the outside of the offense, he and Engram will have a “feast” on the inside. Whether or not that happens to be the case during the season remains to be seen, especially after some of the ugly times for the Giants last season. Still, the outlook is much more positive heading into the 2017 season.
Engram does have a few issues to iron out before the Giants’ first game, though. For one, he has had issues with dropped catches at times during his collegiate career. The young rookie must also do a better job of coming back to the ball and being a reliable blocker when needed. These are relatively small concerns in the grand scheme of things, especially for a first-year player, and he has all of pre-season to work them out before the first snap. Time will tell whether or not he can.
One very encouraging sign is that Engram decided to forgo his break before the preseason starts, opting to stay in New Jersey and continue practicing and learning the playbook in the six-week break between minicamp and training camp. With work ethic like that, Engram could become a starter from day one, perhaps even as a critical member of an offense looking for redemption after a lackluster season last year.