The Giants Draft Ole Miss TE Evan Engram in Round 1. Giants executives discuss the selection:
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.– Evan Engram was just 9½ years old when Eli Manning joined the Giants in 2004. Nine years later, he enrolled at Manning's alma mater, the University of Mississippi. Thursday night, he joined Manning as an NFL first-round draft choice and member of the Giants, creating a passer/receiver combination of former Rebels the team believes will energize the offense.
The Giants selected Engram, a 6-3, 235-pound tight end/H-back, with the 23rd overall selection in the draft. He will join Odell Beckham, Jr., Sterling Shepard and offseason acquisition Brandon Marshall as a game-changing option for Manning in the passing game.
"We think that this guy can be a dynamic weapon in our offense," general manager Jerry Reese said. "Obviously, he has great speed (4.42 seconds in the 40-yard dash) for the position. We think that he can be a matchup nightmare for teams trying to cover him with linebackers and safeties. He was a guy that we liked a lot. Our coaches liked him a lot, and it seems like they can use him in our offense in a lot of different ways. We think that with this addition as a fast receiver down the middle along with some of the other receivers we have, that we can help the offense out some."
It's no secret the Giants need to upgrade their offense. Despite finishing 11-5 and reaching the playoffs last season, they ranked 26th in the NFL in scoring (19.4 points a game), 25th in total yardage (330.7 a game), and 28th in third-down conversion percentage (35.6).
Engram's speed, skill, and versatility should help the Giants improve all those numbers.
"The fastest way to the end zone is down the middle of the field," coach Ben McAdoo said. "Anytime you can add someone to your offense that can run down the middle of the field with that type of speed and length, it stresses the defense.
"He played multiple positions at Ole Miss. I think we can bring him up and move him around a little bit. He needs to play special teams out of the gate and move him into our offense to see what he can handle."
>> EXPERTS REACT TO EVAN ENGRAM
Engram is confident he can help the team immediately.
"I know I'm ready to come in and make an immediate impact," he said on a conference call. "I know for a fact. I've been watching the Giants; they're on TV all the time. I sit down and watch them, especially this past year. I've been really analyzing teams and certain offenses. The Giants have been missing a piece like me. They have a great quarterback and I think (Will) Tye was great for them. I felt that I could be another more dynamic piece at that role. I just always felt that they would look at a guy like me to come in and contribute. I know my skillset. I'm confident in my game and how hard I work. Just the weapons around me, I can't wait to come in and contribute. Learn from all those guys and take advantage of the opportunity to be a great player for this team."
Manning, who has another Ole Miss alumnus, right guard John Jerry, playing in front of him, quickly welcomed Engram to the Giants.
"He texted me after they announced it," Engram said. "He told me to enjoy the moment and that he's looking forward to getting to work with me. I just told him thank you. He said he'll be in contact to catch up in a couple of days. He hit me up after the pick went in."
The longest-tenured Giants player and his newest teammate already know each other.
"He's always around Ole Miss in the offseason," Engram said. "There's been a couple of times I've caught a couple of balls for him. Just servicing him and running some routes that he needed. It kind of manifested in those moments I guess, this moment right here."
Engram is the first tight end chosen by the Giants in the first round since they selected Jeremy Shockey in 2002. Ironically, however, he is the second straight tight end they selected in the draft; South Carolina's Jerell Adams was their final choice in 2016. Engram is the team's initial first-round draft choice from Ole Miss since 1942, when they chose halfback Merle Hapes. Manning, of course, was not a Giants draft choice, but arrived via trade soon after he was selected No. 1 overall by the San Diego Chargers in 2004.
In addition to the Giants' explosive receivers, Engram joins a cast of tight ends that includes incumbents Tye and Adams, and free agent acquisition Rhett Ellison, the former Minnesota Viking.
In four seasons at Mississippi, Engram played in 45 games with 42 starts and caught 162 passes for 2,320 yards (14.3-yard average) and 15 touchdowns. As a senior in 2016, he started all 11 games for the Rebels and had career-high totals of 65 receptions for 926 yards, and eight scores.
"From a scouting perspective, he was a playmaker," said Marc Ross, the Giants' vice president of player evaluation. "He was a versatile playmaker, very athletic guy, clean off the field, and checked all the boxes as far as things we look for in a quality player. … What we liked about Evan was his versatility, his feel for the game, his polish, his hands, his route running and his experience."
If there's a question about Engram, it is his ability to block at the point of attack.
"I think he's a willing striker," McAdoo said. "We need to refine his fundamentals. He does what he's asked to do in their offense and does it well at a high level. We have some things that we're going to have to work on with him."
"I think that the tight ends that come out of the offenses nowadays, these college offenses, these guys are more H-back-type players," Reese said. "He is not a traditional end of the line tight end, but we think that he can do things in the blocking game. He is big, he is fast, he has big hands, he is smart, he will help you on special teams – he is a well-rounded, versatile football player."
One the Giants believe will help their team immediately in 2017.
Photos of Ole Miss TE Evan Engram