Three Giants writers discuss how TE Evan Engram fits in with Big Blue:
The 2017 NFL Draft is underway, and the New York Giants began with the selection of Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram.
>> EXPERTS' TAKE ON EVAN ENGRAM
In this "Cover 3" on Giants.com, our writers give their first impressions and a look at how he fits into the offense.
Evan Engram is someone that came on the radar in media circles as a potential first-round pick in the last couple weeks. He is a modern day "move tight end" whose primary responsibility will be catching the football. Playing at Ole Miss, he lined up mostly in the slot (and occasionally in the backfield) and was a weapon down the field. His 4.42 40-yard dash time at the combine confirmed the speed he showed in game situations. At 6-3 and 233 pounds, he is basically the same height and weight as Brandon Marshall. He wasn't asked to block much at Ole Miss, but when he did, he showed willingness and effort. Both of those things showed up at Senior Bowl practices where he blocked well. He will always be limited by his lack of mass in those situations, so he will have to rely on smarts, technique, leverage and effort.
He gives the Giants offense a lot of flexibility as he can line up in different places. It gives the Giants the ability to show a bunch of different formational looks even if their personnel doesn't change. It will allow more diversification when they go to the no-huddle offense. Ultimately, his versatility will make it easier to create favorable matchups on slower linebackers and safeties.
Last year, opposing defenses would often spread their two-deep safeties deep and outside the hash marks to double the Giants wide receivers. There was no threat to make the defense pay consistently by challenging them deep down the middle of the field. Engram, with his 4.42 speed, can certainly fill that role. Engram will give Eli Manning an over-abundance of weapons with Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall, Paul Perkins and Shane Vereen. If Eli has time to throw, someone is going to be open.
The only person happier than Eli Manning last night was tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride. For the first time in 15 years, the Giants invested in the position with a first-round draft choice. And they got an absolute weapon in Engram. The Giants already had the all-time leading passer in Ole Miss history with Manning, and now they have the program's most productive tight end. Engram will be most valuable down the middle of the field, where he can stretch the two-high safety looks from opposing defenses. He can do so with his 4.42 speed, which led all tight ends in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. Engram is more of a receiver than a blocker, but the front office addressed that area by adding a bruiser in Rhett Ellison via free agency. Throw in the addition of Brandon Marshall, and the passing attack should open up after a down season in that department.
Evan Engram is an athletic tight end who will provide Eli Manning with yet another target, along with his top three wide receivers, especially down the middle of the field. With Laquon Treadwell (Vikings' first round pick in 2016) leaving for the NFL following the 2015 season, Engram led Ole Miss in receptions (65), receiving yards (926) and receiving touchdowns (8) in 2016. He was clearly a major part of the Rebels offense, and with the Giants, I think he'll be the perfect complement to free agent signee Rhett Ellison, who is known for his blocking and only collected 51 total receptions in his first five seasons in the league with the Vikings
If you look at recent history, the Giants have mainly relied on late-round picks/undrafted free agents as well as under-the-radar free agents to bolster the tight end position, and that's a big reason why a number of unknown commodities have made names for themselves with Big Blue, including Kevin Boss, Jake Ballard and Martellus Bennett. By drafting Engram, this is a bit of a change from that track record as he's the first tight end the Giants have taken in the first round since Jeremy Shockey in 2002. New York's three other NFC East rivals have multiple big play tight ends such as Jason Witten, Jordan Reed and Zach Ertz. The addition of Engram gives the Giants an opportunity to make their own splash in that department.