The Giants Day 2 Draft Goals: Evan Engram Tight End Ole Miss

by Adam Nardelli (@adamnardelli)

In a deeply talented tight end draft class, the Giants need to do everything they can to add a game-changer at the position.  The Giants offense was starved for a big play tight end in 2016.  Eli Manning often looked for Will Tye and Jerrell Adams on underneath routes, plays that helped the Giants offense get ahead in the down and distance, but Tye and Adams don’t provide big play ability down the field.

Even with the signing of Rhett Ellsion in free agency, the Giants still need to be looking long and hard at a tight end in the early part of the draft that can be a major threat in the middle of the field as a receiver.

A play-making tight end will not only take pressure off of the receiving corps, but it will give Eli Manning a big-bodied target in the redzone.  The Giants offense ranked just 22nd in redzone scoring, when looking at just touchdowns scored inside the 20s.

Most people are familiar with the names OJ Howard (Alabama) and David Njoku (Miami) as players associated with the Giants in various mock drafts, but they might not be the most realistic options for Jerry Reese.  Both Howard and Njoku could be gone by the time the Giants pick at #23.  As a result, it’s important to look at other options the Giants may target in a highly-touted tight end draft class..  Specifically, we’ll look at Ole Miss’ Evan Engram.

Combine: Engram shined at the NFL Combine.  He ran a 4.42 40 yard dash, the fastest among all tight ends, showing he has elite level speed.  With those wheels, Engram would be a huge mismatch for any linebackers in coverage, and most safeties.  Eli Manning hasn’t had a tight end (Shockey) at his disposal who can really take the top off the defense in a long time. He also pumped out 19 reps of 225 and had second lowest 3 cone drill times.

Engram possesses special athleticism for a tight end, which is on display in the video clips in the link provided.  Eli wouldn’t have to throw the ball perfectly for Engram to catch it, and with Eli never being the most accurate of quarterbacks, Engram and Eli wouldn’t take long to gel.  To top off his strengths, Engram is a quality route runner.  While Engram’s receiving ability is as good as anyone in this year’s draft, I hesitate to call him a complete tight end.  Engram’s blocking skills are his clear weakness.  He shouldn’t be expected to come in and open up massive holes for Paul Perkins in the run game.

However, the addition of Rhett Ellison should make the Giants feel immensely better about taking Engram, if it happens. Ellison will be an asset in the run game and could help pass protect on the edge, but doesn’t project to be a huge force in the passing game (only 19 receptions in 2016).  Some may say having Ellison and Engram on the roster together could complicate things. But having both could allow Ben McAdoo to be more creative with his formations, such as implementing more two tight end sets.  As we all know, constantly employing 11 personnel (3 WR, 1 RB, 1 TE) makes the Giants way too predictable.

Engram currently projects to be a day 2 pick, but with his stellar performance at the NFL combine, could sneak him into the late first round.  He hasn’t been tied to the Giants in many mock drafts, but either was Eli Apple last year.  If Engram does make it to the second round and Jerry Reese wants him, he’s shown in the past he’ll trade up for a guy he loves.  He did it with Landon Collins, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him do it again.

His athleticism stands out the most, making any Giants fan ponder at the possibility of Eli connecting with Engram for big plays.