The tight end landscape for fantasy football purposes has been shallow for a very long time. There is a cluster of five to six guys that are difference makers and a whole slew of guys after that who have their moments but are largely inconsistent contributors. The 2017 rookie class is coming to the rescue, with a trio of impact players at the top and a handful of others who could develop into fantasy contributors. With the right landing spot, Evan Engram could be the one who offers the most immediate path to production.
A three-year starter, Evan Engram is statistically the best tight end to ever play at Ole Miss, setting records in receptions and receiving yards.
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Statistics from sports-reference.com.
In Engram’s sophomore year, his first as a starter, he put up an incredible 17.2 yards per reception on 38 receptions. He caught an identical number of passes in his junior 2015 season but broke off fewer big places which resulted in a drop in yardage totals. Laquon Treadwell also put up his best statistical season in 2015 and was a focal point of the passing offense that season.
In 2016, Engram rebounded with his best season, including pulling in more touchdown receptions than he had in his first three seasons combined. In his senior season, Evan Engram showed the ability to himself be the focal point of a passing offense. If he goes to a team that plans to use him to his strengths, the results could be spectacular for fantasy football.
Evan Engram does everything you could possibly want a wide receiver-tight end hybrid to do. His ability to go up and high-point a ball, willingness to lay out for a tough catch, and focus on scooping a pass with his fingertips as the ball grazes a blade of grass, all show he can make a play in a variety of situations.
The team that drafts him will have a chess piece they can move all over the offensive formation to get a mismatch. He can be lined up out wide, in the slot, and take the top off the defense on vertical routes. He is too quick and fast for coverage linebackers; too big and strong for defensive backs. He is just as comfortable catching a pass over his shoulder with his back to the quarterback as he is using his size to box out a defender facing his signal-caller. Engram has the potential to be a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses if he goes to a team with a creative offensive coordinator.
Engram shows multiple release techniques and is quick off the line. He seems particularly adept at finding soft spots in the zone using a variety of moves to get there. He uses his quick feet to vary his stride length and set up defenders for double moves where he shows the ability to sink his hips and explode out of breaks to gain separation stemming at the top of his route.
Engram plays stronger and with more physicality than his size belies. He is capable of delivering a blow that will knock a defender off-balance on a chip block and can run through arm tackles with ease. He won’t be used often in-inline as a blocker and this could limit his opportunities if he lands in a bad spot with a team that doesn’t have a plan for him.
There are often disagreements between the film and metrics communities, but Evan Engram pleases the entire crowd.
You want measurables (via Player Profiler)? How does 6’3’, 234 lbs and a 4.42 40-yard dash (100th percentile) grab you? That’s a time faster than most of the wide receivers in this draft class.
Again, on his Mock Draftable player page you can see how his athletic ability blows away most, if not all of his peers:
His height and weight are the only measurables that don’t stack up to the other tight ends in this class and is one reason why he may be classified as a wide receiver in the NFL. Every other score is at worst, very good, and at best, elite.
At the time of this writing, Evan Engram is going on average as the 13th overall player off the board in April rookie mocks run by Scott Fish at DLF so it looks like you’ll need to spend a late first on him if you want to ensure he lands on your roster. For me personally, I am comfortable taking him as early as eighth overall behind only O.J. Howard at the position. I still feel Howard offers a more complete package in that he can be used as an every-down in-line tight end whereas Engram will need to be the focal point of a passing offense to earn an every-down role.
That said, on the right team, Engram could be a fantasy factor in year one due to how good he is as a receiver while both Howard and David Njoku my need several years of seasoning before they realize their true potential.
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