The Combine has come and gone, and now we have the official athletic testing to back up the observations we’ve made based on the tape. While the testing should mostly be used as a supplement to production and film review, some players truly make a name for themselves by posting ridiculous numbers.
Evan Engram from Ole Miss was one of those players. I had already done some preliminary scouting on the dangerous receiving TE, but his Combine numbers really illustrated just how unique he is as an athlete. A little on the small side for an NFL TE, Engram is viewed by some as one of a new class of WR/TE hybrids.
To me, and likely to the NFL as a whole, the name of the position doesn’t matter much. What matters is that Engram is a match-up nightmare for LBs, while being too big and physical for slot CBs and safeties. Let’s take a closer look at his game.
TE Evan Engram
Engram is perhaps the most refined receiving TE in the 2017 class. He's a smooth player with elite athleticism for a TE prospect, posting an unbelievable 4.42-forty. Engram is a field-stretcher with the ability to roast LBs down the field. He's agile to go along with that speed, with plus ability after the catch and ability to make things happen in the screen game. Engram has an impressive catch radius and shows an ability to "go up and get it" in the red zone and in clutch situations.
He was a dependable target for Ole Miss and put up plenty of production throughout his career. Despite his size, he clearly has the necessary physicality and "want to" to become a serviceable blocker at the NFL level. Engram was also a versatile player that lined up all over the field, including in-line, H-back, and flexed out wide.
Will be looked at purely as a WR by some. Engram is small for a TE by NFL standards, at only 6'3 235. His blocking technique needs improvement—needs to better square up his opponent and take better angles in space. Engram could stand to add a little more bulk to his frame, but his size will likely make him an average blocker at best.
Despite Engram's impressive receiving production, he has shown inconsistent hands at times. He struggles to make catches in traffic and can be out-muscled at the catch point, particularly if the coverage is tight. Needs to further refine his route running, particularly in the middle of the field. At times he will run a simple route and then stop, and you'd like to see him do more to help his QB.
Grade: 2 (2nd-round)
If the Falcons are looking for a dynamic receiving threat at the TE position, it doesn’t get much better than Engram. Sure, he’s not an amazing blocker, and he’s not going to blow anyone away with his size, but Engram is a play-maker and an intriguing chess piece for an offense that loves to take advantage of mismatches.
Sarkisian’s offense is similar to Shanahan’s in most respects—including being a match-up based attack—but Sark generally prefers to have a “move” TE instead of using his TEs primarily in-line. Atlanta has TEs that can fill that role in Austin Hooper and perhaps Josh Perkins, but neither is as good of a fit for that role as Evan Engram. Engram’s unique size/speed combination makes him a dangerous player that can demand the attention of an opposing defense.
The only catch with Engram is that his impressive Combine showing has almost certainly pushed him into the second round. If the Falcons want him, they’ll need to spend a high pick, and it’s very possible he won’t even be around by Atlanta’s second selection. Still, he’s an excellent fit for Sarkisian’s offense, and is a tempting choice to make the NFL’s most dangerous offense even more potent in 2017.
What do you think of Engram? Would you want the Falcons to spend a second-round pick to get a play-maker of his caliber in the red and black? Who are some other options at TE that you’re interested in?