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NFL Draft Scouting Report: Evan Engram, TE, Mississippi

NFL Draft Scouting Report: Evan Engram, TE, Mississippi

Evan Engram, Mississippi

Position: TE/WR
Height: 6’3"
Weight: 234
Class: Senior
Hometown: Powder Springs, GA
Experience: 4-year starter

Measureables:

40yd dash:           4.42
Broad jump:        10’5”
Vertical:                36”
Bench Press:      19 reps

Career Notes:

Unlike many players recruited to play at Ole Miss under current Head Coach Hugh Freeze, Engram entered Ole Miss with little fanfare. Despite being a 3-star recruit out of Georgia, he played in 8 games as a freshman, starting 6, before missing the remainder of the regular season with a high ankle sprain, but returned for the bowl game. It did not take him long to solidify himself as one of the best tight ends in the nation, leading all tight ends in yards per catch as a true sophomore. He continued to perform at a high level before breaking out as a senior, posting the most receiving yards and the second-most touchdowns among tight ends which helped earn him the Ozzie Newsome Award as the nation’s best tight end.

Injury Report: 

Engram was mostly healthy during his college career after the high-ankle sprain sustained as a freshman which caused him to miss 5 games. He also missed the last game of his college career (the Egg Bowl rivalry against in-state rival Mississippi State) with a hamstring injury. The injury was healed sufficiently for him to be able to complete most of the standard combine drills.

Career Stats(click here):

 

Analysis:

Speed/Quickness – 4.5/5

As is the case with many of the hybrid players in the 2017 Draft, how you quantify Engram’s traits largely depends on which position you believe said prospect will be the best at in the NFL. Engram is a truly elite athlete for a tight end, as his 4.42 40-yard dash ranked first among all tight end participants at the combine, while his 4.23 20-yard shuttle ranked 3rd. But his times also translated well for a big-bodied wide receiver, as 40 time tied him for the 5th fastest time for a wide receiver and his 20-yard shuttle placed him inside the top 25 at the position. This speed also shows up on tape, as he was asked to run a myriad of routes while at Ole Miss. While he mostly operated in the quick-drop game, using his quickness to separate for quick passes to the flat, he also showed the deep speed to win deep balls.

Route Running – 3.0/5

Based purely on his athletic profile, one might consider the move to wide receiver a solid option, as he tests in the same vicinity as some recent big-body wide receiver draftees like Demaryius Thomas. However, this is a common refrain for athletic tight ends that struggle to block without much analysis if they have the route-running chops to compete at the position in the NFL. But Engram was flexed out wide and lined up in the slot so much that I think he can realistically make the transition to wide receiver in the pros, albeit not immediately. He played significant snaps out of the slot at Ole Miss, where he showed the ability, and perhaps more importantly, the willingness to win in the short game on routes over the middle. His short-area quickness and strength might even make that his best position as a pro.

Hands – 4.0/5.0

While Engram’s tremendous size and speed jump off the page, the trait that impressed me the most from watching Engram were his hands. Sometimes, even prospects with the physical skill set of Engram will lack ball-skills or frankly, look like basketball players masquerading as football players. But Engram looks like a natural as a pass-catcher, routinely using his hands to grab and clasp the ball instead of trapping it or using his body which can lead players to many drops. His hands-catching also helps him in contested situations, where he combines his 6’3” frame and lethal top-end speed to form a lethal combination on deep routes. One weakness he does have is the tendency to react too much to physicality at the catch point, allowing smaller defenders to breakup passes that otherwise should be caught.

YAC Ability – 4.0/5

Engram’s demonstrated ability to obtain yards after the catch during his college career provides hope that he can make a successful transition to the wide receiver position at the next level, even if it is just on a part-time basis. Receivers obtain yards after catch by utilizing their strength to make contested catches, their quickness and route-running to separate in short bursts, or their speed by simply outrunning their defenders. Engram is the rare prospect who flashes the ability to do all three, sometimes even on the same drive. He is probably best as a first reaction option on quick drop backs, where he can beat his defender off the line right after the snap and use his physicality to make him miss before turning on the jets downfield.

Blocking – 1.5/5

While the concept of a move to? tight end can be tantalizing, few of them materialize into legitimate NFL weapons. Among the most common reasons for some of these failures where they were unable to play consistent snaps at the professional level because of their inability to block. This can put a cramp on their playing time in one of two ways: their poor blocking allows the quarterback to take unnecessary hits and sacks and their mere presence in a sub-package tips off defenses to expect a pass. Engram is not a lost cause as a blocker, and as a run blocker shows some promise. But as a pass-blocker, he routinely got man-handled by larger and stronger defensive ends, leading to negative plays. It will be tough to trust him as an in-line tight end on run plays without significant development on that front, which limits his upside.

Overall – 4.0/5

Because of how much the league has changed over the last quarter-century, a player like Evan Engram is in high demand – a matchup nightmare who has the speed to outrun linebackers and the size to out-muscle defensive backs. While his blocking leaves a lot to be desired, a move to the slot where his combination of quickness, speed, and size could make him a tough cover for opposing slot corners. He will likely not be able to contribute immediately as a tight end in the NFL, but should see snaps early in his career in obvious passing situations as his route-running is advanced for his age, even if simply used to clear underneath defenders in zone coverage or on tunnel-screens on third-and-longs where a conversion seems unlikely.

If Drafted by the Packers:

Had Ted Thompson and the Packers conducted their typical offseason and largely eschewed free agency, Evan Engram would have been on the short list of likely candidates to be selected with their first-round pick. But after signing Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks in free agency while still having Richard Rodgers on a rookie contract, the Packers have little need for a tight end on the current roster, especially with the likely draft capital it will require to obtain his services.  With the Packers having several needs on the defensive side of the ball, not to mention a draft deep in several of those positions, it would be frankly shocking if they Packers selected a skill-position player in the first round. Because of the weakness of the position, combined with the quarterback-hungry teams near the top of the draft, it seems unlikely Engram will last to the Packers 2nd round pick either. Engram seems destined to be selected at the bottom of round 1 by a team with a need at the position like Dallas or at the top of round 2 by a team to pair with a first-round quarterback like the Jets or Browns. Packers fans should hope that it is not Chicago who ends up employing that strategy.

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Alexandr1985's picture

A very worthy player in almost all respects, I have friends who are friends who just fanaty from him

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