Making surprising picks in the first round has become a reoccurring theme in the 2016 and 2017 draft for the New York Giants. In 2016, many were stunned when Big Blue selected Eli Apple and while cornerback was not a top priority Apple improved throughout the season and is in the long-term plans for the Giants. With the run on quarterbacks occurring in the 2017 draft and with O.J. Howard being selected by Tampa Bay the G-men selected another tight-end who did not get much press before the draft and that was Evan Engram.
While Engram was not stealing headlines before the draft the feedback was the same as Engram has size and speed that will provide matchup problems. Linebackers will have a difficult time keeping up with Engram who ran a 4.42 40 yard dash time. Cornerbacks will have a difficult time dealing with Engram’s frame which is 6-3 and 234 pounds.
The measurable for Engram are eye popping but Engram can help provide a compliment to All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and a big time target for Eli Manning. While Beckham has made electrifying plays and dazzling runs after the catch OBJ has been rattled when teams are extremely physically against him. Most notably the Carolina Panthers physicality in 2015 and Beckham Jr’s reaction was a low point in OBJ’s career. With Engram, the cornerbacks and safeties will be playing with someone who is bigger than Beckham Jr. and has the same amount of speed as there is a fraction of a second difference between Engram’s 40-yard dash and OBJ’s 40-yard dash.
Eli Manning could now have a big bodied red zone threat in Engram. While Big Blue signed Brandon Marshall who is a big-bodied wide receiver, Engram is younger and has more football ahead of him than Marshall. And when Eli has that big bodied wide receiver like Plaxico Burress or Hakeem Nicks a beautiful relationship could form that ends in hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
Engram also provides the versatility that Ben McAdoo could exploit in his offensive system. In college Engram lined up as an in-line tight-end, in the slot, and as a wide receiver. Being able to move the big body of Engram around could provide multiple problems for the opponent. First, who is going to cover Engram as Engram will be too big for cornerbacks and too quick for linebackers. Second, Engram’s versatility will allow for McAdoo to be more creative in play calling and show more formations that the somewhat predictable three wide- receiver line up the Giants were accustomed to running in 2016.