With most of the draft community predicting that Jerry Reese and the New York Giants would select either an offensive lineman or a dynamic front seven defender, they instead surprised and selected an undersized but highly athletic offensive weapon.
No, I’m not talking about 2014 and Odell Beckham Jr., I’m talking about 2017 and Evan Engram.
However, the parallels are striking. Both Beckham and Engram have connections to Eli Manning — Beckham went to Manning’s high school and has been catching passes from the Giants’ quarterback since he (Beckham) was a sophomore in high school. Engram is a product of Ole Miss, and caught passes from Manning when he would go back to campus in the offseason.
Both players are undersized, but with rare versatility, quickness, speed, explosiveness. They both also have uncommonly savvy route running for rookies.
As we all know, Beckham shattered receiving records as a rookie, despite missing a full quarter of the season, not to mention the summer program. Engram is also on a record setting pace, and is quietly among the most productive tight ends in the NFL.
Targets: 30 (2nd)
Receptions: 19 (3rd)
Yards: 200 (2nd)
TDs: 1 (5th)
He is on pace for 76 receptions for 800 yards, which would put him as — as far as my research can tell — the most productive rookie tight end since Mike Ditka’s 1,076 yards in 1961. Before all is said and done, Engram could well eclipse the 4 touchdowns for which he is currently on pace.
To put Engram’s production in perspective, here are the five best rookie seasons by tight ends since 2004.
John Carlson - 55 receptions, 627 yards, 5 touchdowns
Tim Wright - 54, 571, 5
Aaron Hernandez - 44, 563, 6
Tony Moeaki - 47, 556, 3
Rob Gronkowski - 42 rec, 546, 10
There is a lot going wrong with the Giants’ offense this year, but we should at least be happy to see what looks like the birth of another offensive star in New York.