We’re recording the latest podcast today so stay tuned. In the meantime, I wanted to put a few thoughts out about one of the more underrated players in the draft.
The first player we really focused on this year (back in early October) was Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram:
Engram is a little bit like Jordan Reed albeit 10lbs lighter. He can line up anywhere — inline TE, detached, slot, H-back. He’s a mismatch. At a listed 6-3 and 227lbs you could just use him as an out-and-out bigger receiver if you wanted. He has the agility, fluidity and athleticism to make it work.
We talk a lot about mismatches these days. Engram is a perfect example. Yet he doesn’t get that much hype.
That probably needs to change.
Yesterday I paired him with the Giants at #23. New York needs a tight end and with O.J. Howard and David Njoku likely gone, Engram could be an ideal fit.
It shouldn’t be considered a reach either.
One of the more dynamic receivers in the NFL currently is Mike Evans. Let’s compare his physical profile to Engram’s:
Arms: 35 1/8
Hands: 9 5/8
Short shuttle: 4.26
Arms: 33 1/2
Short shuttle: 4.23
Engram is shorter and isn’t quite as long — but he’s quicker, has superior long speed and he’s equally explosive.
Evans was the #7 overall pick in 2014 but it’s worth noting not everyone projected him to go that early. This profile by Nolan Narwocki listed him as a borderline first round pick (the same as Engram):
A prep hoopster with shooting-guard size, Evans combined with Johnny Manziel to form one of the most dominant quarterback-receiver connections in the nation the last two seasons. He’s a big, physical, strong-handed, West Coast possession receiver with playmaking ability who projects as a No. 2 in the pros where he will make his money as a chain mover and red-zone target.
It doesn’t mean Engram’s going to go in the top-10. The comparison feels somewhat legit though — and a smart team might get a similar player at a cheaper price.
Evans spends a lot of his time in the slot acting as a mismatch. This is how you’d likely use Engram. He’s not so much a tight end as a dynamic big target. Put him up against a safety or linebacker and he’ll have success.
The 2017 draft is going to be unpredictable. More so than in previous years. There are a bunch of players with similar grades. It wouldn’t be a huge shock if Engram went a lot earlier than most are currently projecting — especially if Howard and Njoku are both gone in the top-15.
The talent at tight end could also work against the receiver class. Howard, Njoku and Engram are explosive, highly athletic playmakers. And they’re healthy. Corey Davis, Mike Williams and John Ross don’t have that.
Would the Seahawks take Engram at #26? As good as he is, they’re already struggling to utilise the tight ends they’ve got. Even if you view him as a mismatch receiver — Seattle’s problem isn’t a lack of targets on offense.
Even if they were planning ahead with Graham and Willson out of contract in 2018, wouldn’t they just be better off franchising Graham? It’s not like there’d be any less pressure to feed Engram the ball as a first round pick.
For it to happen they’d have to be pretty down on the defensive talent available.
He’s very good though — and if they were going BPA he wouldn’t be a bad choice. It’s likely lesser players will be off the board before Engram. I’m going to revise my tiered rankings before next week and Engram will be in the third tier as one of the best twenty or so players in the class.