It turns out returning for his senior year at Ole Miss was a hell of a good call by Evan Engram. The tight end’s patience paid off on Thursday night when the Giants selected him with the 23rd pick in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Yep, the greatest tight end in Ole Miss history will be snagging passes from Eli Manning.
As a recruit out of Hill Grove (Powder Springs, GA), Engram didn’t boast much of an offer sheet, and was something of an afterthought in a historic Ole Miss 2013 class that boasted Laremy Tunsil, Robert Nkemdiche and Laquon Treadwell. But after a promising (though injury-shortened) freshman season, it became evident that Engram’s receiving ability would become a deadly weapon in Hugh Freeze’s offense. Four years later, Engram left Ole Miss as the most productive tight end in program history.
Engram’s 4.42 40-yard dash was tops in his position group at the combine, and he’s one of the few tight end prospects who can back up what scouts see as possible upside with substantive college production. On top of leading FBS tight ends with 926 receiving yards in just 11 games last season, he led all draft-eligible tight ends with 2.61 yards per route run out of the slot and 7 catches of 20+ yards, according to Pro Football Focus.
Engram has the potential to be a matchup nightmare for linebackers and defensive backs at the next level. The Giants see an opportunity to leverage his diverse route tree and unique physical attributes to attack defenses in multiple ways.
Outside of salivating over his upside, scouts do have concerns, starting with his limited experience in pass protection and shaky run-blocking. Even so, it may not matter, depending on how New York uses him. Offensive success in the NFL is becoming increasingly dependent on creating mismatches, so the Giants should be eager to put him to work.