With the 2017 NFL Draft soon approaching, we take a look at a dynamic offensive player at the tight end position, Evan Engram of Mississippi
It is no longer your father’s NFL.
Accordingly, the term ‘versatility’ is tossed around with regularity when describing most players nowadays. At just about every position, modifications are being made on a daily basis to compensate for schemes. For example, the standard for the tight end position is being raised season after season. The desire for athleticism is raised by the season as well at tight end.
Ironically, that is what makes a prospect such as Evan Engram out of Ole Miss quite interesting. Even so, while he has that versatility and athleticism, parts of his game are under extra surveillance as well. What does the athletic tight end provide for NFL offenses? Let’s take a look at his scouting report.
Strengths: A true mismatch due to size and improved route-running….Muscular frame….Led Ole Miss in catches (65), yards (926), and touchdowns (8) in 2016…..Outstanding catch radius, displays flexibility to make contorted catches….Big-play potential as a tight end…..Expanded route tree which includes drags, seams, and wheel routes……Able to sink his hips at the top of his routes to get in and out of his breaks…..2016 first team All-SEC and first team AP All-American….Consistent as a natural catcher, possesses big hands to cleanly grab the football….Applies concentration on contested catches.
Weaknesses: Will not be mistaken as an inline tight end even with his size….Engram must add strength at the next level to deal with bigger linebackers…..Offers very little in the blocking phase of his skill set; a result of a lack of true strength….Could stand to be more aggressive at the point of attack as a blocker.
Bottom line: When watching Engram’s tape from the 2016 and 2015 season, it is quite clear that the former Ole Miss Rebel can be a handful for defenses. With his ability to line up practically anywhere, Engram’s skill set is able to open things up for offenses. His unique blend of athleticism and fluidity makes him a non-traditional tight end in my opinion.
Which brings me to my next point. I would not be surprised if Engram has a similar path as Carolina Panthers receiver Devin Funchess. If you recall, Funchess was a collegiate tight end at Michigan until his senior season. Then, Funchess converted to wide receiver after dropping in weight from 236 lbs to his present weight of 225, which translated to the NFL. As Engram currently weighs in the 235-240 lb range, it is possible that Engram may see a similar conversion.
Of course, that transition may or may not occur depending on who drafts Engram. Either way, Engram is a unique weapon and is easily a top-3 tight end in the upcoming NFL Draft. At worst, Engram is a late Day 2 selection. Engram seems to be destined for 2nd round territory if his pre-draft evaluation goes well.