Evan Engram came into the weekend considered one of the top three tight ends available in the 2017 NFL Draft. He might have bumped himself up even further after smoking a 4.42 40-yard dash on Saturday, the fastest time of any tight end at this year’s combine. It’s the third fastest combine time for a tight end since 2006, according to SEC Network.
The Ole Miss star came into the weekend ranked behind Alabama’s O.J. Howard and Miami’s David Njoku on CBS’s tight end prospect list.
Of course, speed, athleticism and receiving ability have never been in doubt for Engram, who led all collegiate tight ends in yards per game and receptions per game last season. The bigger question for Engram in the eyes of NFL scouts will be his physicality and blocking ability.
“A lot of teams said another year would benefit me a lot more,” Engram told The Clarion-Ledger in December of 2015 after declaring that he was returning for his senior year. “They know I can catch and be explosive down the field. They just want to see me put a little bit more weight on and show that I can be a consistent SEC player.”
The 6’3 Engram has bulked up to 234 pounds and his 19 bench press reps on Friday ranked ninth among tight ends at the combine (and that was with fans heckling him). He improved as a blocker in 2016, though taking on NFL D-ends and linebackers will never be a strength. As long as Engram can be at least serviceable as a blocker, though, his athleticism will make him a weapon in a league that’s increasingly splitting its tight ends out and treating them as slot receivers.
“I would probably say my versatility,” Engram responded when asked by AJC.com what separates him from the rest of the 2017 tight end class. “This class is so deep. All these guys bring a lot to the table. But for myself, just being able to do anything. Be split out, flexed out, get down field in the vertical game, and then have the tenacity to get in and get physical as well. I definitely see myself as a total package and definitely a threat down field in the vertical passing game.”
He certainly has the vertical threat part down. Here he is running the 40 on Saturday:
Evan Engram, tight end, 4.42 40-yard dash pic.twitter.com/PUrvchlK8W— Football Posts (@FballPosts) March 4, 2017
Let’s put that in perspective.