20/20: Evan Engram

Mo Brewington

Welcome to the 20/20 series. As part of our continued Dynasty Scouts coverage and in preparation for the NFL Combine, we’ll be profiling 20 of the top incoming rookies of the class of 2017 by giving you 20 facts you must know.

1.) Player Name – Evan Engram

2.) College – University of Mississippi

3.) Height / Weight – 6’3”, 236 pounds (most recent Senior Bowl weigh-in)

4.) Birth date – September 2, 1994 (22.5 years of age)

5.) Class – Senior (Starter since freshman year.)

6.) College Stats – 162 receptions, 2320 yards (14.3 yards per reception) and 15 touchdowns

Senior Year Stats – 65 recs, 926 yds (14.2 ypr) and eight TDs

7.) NFL Draft Round Projection – Second-third round. He could go as high as the early second.

8.) Current NFL comp – Jordan ReedMichael Floyd

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You’ll often hear Engram compared to Jordan Reed. Although Reed didn’t have the type of production Engram has managed at Ole’ Miss, he was a dynamic playmaker coming out of Florida, and looked the part of an NFL tight end. Engram will present similar match-up issues for linebackers and defensive backs. His straight-line speed may not match Reed’s when it comes time to run the 40-yard dash at the Combine, but Engram is still primed for NFL success.

He’s proven to be a durable athlete, which already gives him a leg up on the oft-injured Redskins’ tight end. From the standpoint of playing style, you may find Engram more comparable to Michael Floyd coming out of Notre Dame. Reed displayed more lateral agility at UoF, where Engram and Floyd played a bit stiffer, and ran more upright, with less shake after the catch. In any event, Evan Engram has the tools to give defenders fits at the next level.

9.) Best possible destination – Buccaneers / Cowboys

Tampa had success using Cameron Brate as their flex tight end last season, but Evan Engram would bring even more athleticism to this role. Having Brate and Brandon Meyers handle the in-line duties while Mike Evans occupies safeties would allow Engram to play to his full potential as an underneath receiver who can attack the seams and exploit the best match ups.

Many of the reasons which make Tampa an intriguing destination also apply for the Dallas Cowboys, where Engram could become a dangerous secondary weapon for Dak Prescott. The Cardinals would appear to be another strong landing spot based on the lack of production they’ve gotten out of their tight end position in recent years. But Arizona is facing major uncertainty at quarterback beyond 2017. Bruce Arians also has a tendency to work young players into the lineup sparingly, lending a great deal of uncertainty to any young receiver’s outlook.

For our purposes, pairing Engram with a dangerous young quarterback, on a team where he’s not expected to be to the number one weapon in the passing game, gives him the most optimal chance at long term dynasty success.

10.) Worst possible destination – Texans

The glut of young wide receivers, combined with the under-utilization of Stephen Anderson (a player with a lower ceiling than Engram, yet a very similar skill set) in favor of tight ends with better blocking skills, and finally the massive question mark at quarterback, are all factors which make Houston a sub-optimal place for Engram to call home.

If the Texans found a suitable signal-caller, Bill O’Brien’s history running a two-tight end offense in the “Gronk/Hernandez Era” makes you want to believe he would/could duplicate that formula. Yet, there are still too many other places for the football to go for Engram to reach his full potential in in Houston.

11.) Best current skill – Operating as his quarterback’s safety valve

A large chunk of Engram’s receptions came on checkdowns. He does a good job of recognizing the blitz and “sitting down” to give his QB a quick outlet under pressure. This will pay off in PPR leagues, where he’ll rack up a ton of cheap catches, yardage and points with the ability to gain yards after the catch as well.

12.) Skill that needs to be improved – Blocking

Engram is willing, but he tends to engage too high, relying on his upper body strength to hold off defenders and failing to bring his feet. Other times, he has difficulty locating his block, as you’ll see here on successive plays:

evan engram (ole miss) vs. florida state (2016)

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Most of what needs to improve is from the waist down. At 236-pounds, the importance of technique will be magnified once he’s asked to take on NFL defenders who will outweigh him by anywhere from 15-75 pounds, and have broader pass rush arsenals than simply trying to speed rush around the outside all day.

Situational football is the name of the game, and Engram will thrive if coaches view him as a reliable blocker who doesn’t need to be subbed out in short yardage. By all accounts, he’s worked hard to improve his blocking during his four years at Ole’ Miss. He also understands the effect the added bulk could have on his game. Expect Engram to continue to grow in this area as a pro.

13.) Current Rookie ADP – Currently 17th Overall, TE2 per DLF’s most recent rookie rankings

At the moment, our dynasty rankers place Engram right between O.J. Howard and David Njoku, the other tight ends ranked along with him in round two. Bucky Hodges and Jake Butt round out the top 50, with Southern Alabama’s Gerald Everett a notable absence.

14.) Projected dynasty value – The members of last year’s rookie tight end class typically sat on the board well into the late-teens. This year’s group will be different, bringing a much needed infusion of talent to a position in which half of the top 12 finishers are either injury prone or over the age of 30. You may begin to see Engram and the other top rookie tight ends selected once your draft hits the tenth round, or thereabouts.

15.) Almost Jumped Too Soon

Engram almost made the leap to the NFL last off-season, but he received feedback from various sources indicating he wasn’t likely to be selected ahead of the sixth round.

Engram chose to return to school for his senior year with a few goals in mind; proving he could matchup one-on-one with defensive backs, getting his weight up to 245-pounds, and winning the SEC championship for the Rebels.

He accomplished the first goal, but fell short on the other two. The move, as a whole, paid off, as Engram sits poised to be drafted on day two this April.

16.) Even His Head Coach Says Engram Isn’t Suited To Be An In-Line Tight End

NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread relayed the opinion of Ole’ Miss head coach Hugh Freeze, who told reporters on a teleconference that Engram’s best fit in the NFL isn’t as a traditional in-line TE, “Evan doesn’t belong in an offense that has a tight end with a hand on the ground and has to block a 6-technique all the time… That’s not his skill set.” Are you beginning to sense a theme?

17.) Positive Senior Bowl Reports

Playing on the South team along with O.J. Howard, the consensus number one tight end in the class, didn’t stop Engram from making a mark at the Senior Bowl, as the draftniks came away impressed with his soft hands and ability to compete downfield. His blocking ability was up and down, as Charlie Campbell noted in his daily practice round-ups. Engram managed just one catch for ten yards in the actual game, but was credited with a solid week of practice overall, and did nothing but help his draft stock.

18.) Teams With Interest

Several NFL teams requested private interview time with Engram in Mobile. These reports are always an interesting gauge of which teams may have their eyes on a player. Engram spent time with representatives from the Falcons, Jaguars, Jets, Rams and the (gulp) Texans, who actually interviewed three tight ends in Mobile, including Southern Alabama’s Gerald Everett and Arkansas’ Jeremy Sprinkle.

19.) The Head Of The Class

Engram’s four-year receiving totals (162/2,320/15) dwarf most of the top tight ends in this draft class. Only Michigan’s Jake Butt, Clemson’s Jordan Leggett and Alabama’s O.J. Howard were also four-year players for their schools. Of this group, Butt’s totals were the closest to Engram’s, with a 148/1,646/11 stat line over his four-year career.

Yet, even on a per year basis, Engram outdid the underclassmen in receptions per season (40.5) as well as yardage per season (580) When it came to finding the end zone, Engram’s 15 scores placed him behind junior Bucky Hodges, who led the group with 20 career touchdowns in his three-year career at Virginia Tech. Hodges may have posted higher receiving totals than Engram given another season of play but based on his usage, Bucky Hodges has even less business calling himself a tight end than Engram does.

This group has the potential to become one of the best tight end classes in years. The 2013 draft class gave us fantasy standouts like Jordan Reed, Tyler Eifert, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz and Jack Doyle, along with players like Vance McDonald, Dion Sims, Levine Toilolo, Ryan Griffin, and Michael Rivera who haven’t been fantasy stars, but are solid pros nonetheless.

This incoming group will bring a much needed infusion of talent to a position in desperate need of game-changers. We may see four or five of them become top 12 tight ends over the next few seasons.

20.) A Beast From Day One

Engram was named to the All-SEC second team as a freshman, in 2013. He and left tackle Laremy Tunsil became the first freshman in Ole’ Miss history to receive such an honor. They were joined on the list by fellow 2013 freshman Vernon Hargreaves and Hunter Henry.


mo brewington
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