Evan Engram Makes the New York Giants Much Harder to Defend
Evan Engram is a fascinating case of what is and what is not a tight end.
Much of his game screams wide receiver. He rarely stayed in to block during his time at Mississippi, and on top of that, he spent most of his time in the slot. Engram leads the tight end class in targets, slot receptions, and slot yards. He was basically the number-one receiver at Mississippi, with a 20.1-percent target share and a 12-target lead on Damore’ea Stringfellow.
He was the only top tight end prospect to see at least 20 percent of his team’s targets. The next closest was Virginia Tech’s Bucky Hodges at 19 percent, followed by Michigan’s Jake Butt at 18.7 percent.
|Evan Engram||Ole Miss||93||20.1%|
|Bucky Hodges||Virginia Tech||81||19.0%|
Because of his role, some have given him a comp of Jimmy Graham, but Graham is a monster. He’s clearly built like a tight end despite the receiver role he played with the New Orleans Saints. At the combine in 2010, Graham measured at 6’6” and 260 pounds. This past year, he was listed at 6’7”, 265. Engram is not that.
In the NFL, Engram is either going to be a small tight end or a big wide receiver. Here’s how his measurables stack up at each position.
|Evan Engram||Result||Percentile as TE||Percentile as WR|
|40 Yard Dash||4.42||93||70|
In reality, though, it probably won’t matter. However Engram is considered, he’s likely to be a matchup nightmare against opposing defenses.
His size is going to be enough to win against defensive backs, while his speed will allow him to blow past most linebackers. The percentiles above don’t lack in any athletic area regardless of what position he plays -- he has the ability to have an immediate impact in the passing game.
The New York Giants see that, and even though he's not a typical tight end, they clearly like what he brings to the table. No team ran 11 personnel (three wide receivers) more than the Giants last season. It's because their receivers are pretty good and there were no other options. Tight end was also a big need -- among 32 tight ends with 50 or more targets, Will Tye was 31st in Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) per target.
The offense as a whole was bad, too, as they ranked 26th in Adjusted NEP per play.
With Engram in the fold, it's could be likely he plays in a rotation with an aging Brandon Marshall and gets treated more as a wide receiver, so the Giants can stay three-wide, but technically play in less 11 personnel. They signed Rhett Ellison during the offseason, who is a good blocking tight end, but hasn't been much of a pass catcher. Whatever the plan is, the Giants do seem to have one and they like what Engram brings to the field.
Seeing what he does, it would be hard not to.
Where He Wins
Engram is likely going to make the biggest impact up the seam where he can take advantage of his size and speed. In the play below against Florida State, Engram ran right past a defensive back who was playing well off the line, and he finished with an adjustment back to the ball.
Half of Engram’s eight touchdowns came in the red zone last year. Like most of the tight ends in this class, the mismatch he presents there is easy to exploit. Against Georgia, he lined up in the right slot, ran a corner route past the safety, and attacked the ball at the catch point over the safety’s head.
While most of Engram’s work is going to be done in the slot, where he can prosper is with different alignments as an H-back or move tight end.
In the play below against Texas A&M, Engram is lined up as an H-back and ran a wheel route. Two defenders tried to knock him off his route, but he was too quick for the defenders’ angles and there was limited impact on the bumps. He finished with another adjustment back to the ball -- a clear repeatable skill he showed throughout the year.
Engram is a bit of a shock to the Giants at this point in the draft, but he's going to make the offense really tough to match up against overall.