So, just who is the newest member of the New York Giants? Evan Engram, the first tight-end to be drafted round one by the Giants since Jeremy Shockey in 2002. That fact should get Giants fans very excited, as Shockey proved to be a great player for the Giants and was one of Eli Manning’s favourite targets during his time for big blue.
The 22 year old played 4 years at Ole Miss, where he made 162 receptions for 2,320 yards and 15 touchdowns in that time. He was named to the First-team All-SEC in both 2014 and 2016 and First-Team All-American in 2016. Engram was also named a two-time captain in his 4 years at Ole Miss.
The term “matchup nightmare” is often used for tight-ends ( think Jimmy Graham and Jordan Reed) and Evan Engram is a name that could potentially be added to that list. At 6″3 – 234lbs many would say Engram is undersized for the tight-end position, but he makes up for it with his freakish athletic ability. Engram possesses outstanding acceleration and speed, something his 4.42 40-yard dash time clearly shows. His electric leaping ability (36 inches Vert Jump at combine) also makes up for his lack of height and will be a nightmare for defenders, when contending Engram in the air. Engram can be positioned anywhere across the line, slot and even on the outside. His speed will be too much for opposing linebackers to handle and his vertical ability and strength will be too overpowering for cornerbacks.
Evan Engram is also known for being a fierce competitor, which would’ve attracted the Giants to him, to go along with the already highly competitive wide receiver core (OBJ, Shepard and Marshall). The tape shows Engram to be a willing blocker and even a competent one. Blocking is a trait that all tight-ends are required to do, even more so with the steady decline in talent at the offensive tackle position. Something which the Giants know all too well.
Of course, Engram, just like every other player has some weaknesses. At the pro level, Engram will have to do a better job of not allowing defenders to get between him and the ball. Too many times during his college career, defenders were able to disrupt the route and pass to Engram. Has had issues with consistency and dropping passes became an issue. This is something the Giants will want to iron out early in his pro career. His lack of height may be a slight issue for the Giants in the redzone, but his athletic ability will more than likely make up for his ‘undersized’ 6″3 build. Also the signing of the redzone dynamite Brandon Marshall will ease the pressure on the tight-end core when the Giants enter the 20 yard line.
Why Engram? And Why At 23?
It’s been common knowledge around the NFL that the Giants and Eli Manning haven’t had a true, quality tight-end since the days of Jeremy Shockey, or even since one of Manning’s favourite targets Kevin Boss. All off-season there have been talk of Giants finally drafting a tight-end to help Manning out. OJ Howard went at 19 to the Buccaneers, with many people disappointed the Giants didn’t trade up to snag him. This left David Njoku and Evan Engram, with the latter being rated higher than the former by the Giants front office.
Reuben Foster? This question was probably asked a lot of times during the picks preceding the Giants at 23. The linebacker from Alabama, one of the highest rated players in the draft, saw a huge slide down the draft due to a shoulder issue, highlighted in his medical. The Giants must have been very tempted by Foster, as linebacker is a position they badly need, but I would’ve been very surprised to hear his named called at 23. The Giants don’t often gamble on players that have a red flag, especially if it’s injury-related.
An offensive lineman was probably another position many people expected the Giants to upgrade with their 23rd pick. With Cam Robinson, Forrest Lamp and Ryan Ramczyk all still available, it was a little surprising not to hear one of their names called. One thing to consider though, the Giants could potentially trade up early in the 2nd round to grab either Lamp or Robinson, who both slid out of the first round.
Giants fans should be very happy with this pick, Engram will be a day one starter. But more importantly he’ll be an impactful starter. OJ Howard was the consensus best tight-end in the draft, with Engram and Njoku slightly behind him. Many see Njoku to be a project player, something which the Giants and more importantly Eli Manning don’t have time for. Having a reliable, top-10 tight end is imperative for teams in the NFL and its been a long time since the Giants can say they have one. Engram can definitely be that guy.
The draft is far from over and the next order of business for Jerry Reese should be to give Eli Manning some more protection, to allow him to use all these weapons he has around him. Another priority should be running back, with Paul Perkins currently the day one starter. Defense shouldn’t be forgotten either, with the linebacker position still needing a major upgrade.