New York Giants linebacker Jonathan Casillas sounded Friday like a man who is glad he and his defensive teammates only have to try and cover first-round pick Evan Engram in practice. The rookie tight end has already proven to Casillas, the team’s defensive captain last year, that he is a handful.
“He is such a dynamic player at the tight end position with his skill set, he is going to create a lot of mismatches, whether it’s between linebackers, safeties or corners,” Casillas said after Friday’s OTA. “He is not a small guy. He runs routes just as good as any receiver we have on our team. He creates separation and he has great hands.”
Head coach Ben McAdoo also seemed pleased on Friday by the progress of Engram, whose selection by the Giants with the 23rd overall pick was a surprise to many.
“We are excited about the young man. He has a tremendous skill set to do a lot of different things for you,” McAdoo said. “He shows that he is willing as a blocker. Now we have to get some pads on him and get his fundamentals right there.
“He is a conscientious young man, he works hard at football and seems to enjoy it, he does a nice job in the meetings at this point and I think that he will get better as time goes on. But a lot of times success in this business nowadays, meetings are pretty important. The good players do well in meetings and can take it on the field because there is just not as much time on the field as there used to be.”
Engram said Friday that OTAs have “been a great two weeks, three weeks. A lot of learning, some mistakes, a lot of capitalizing on those mistakes.”
The 22-year-old, who has yet to sign his rookie contract, admitted that he has been overwhelmed at times, sometimes with “a blank stare on my face.” He said, though, that things are slowing down.
“They are getting less and less each and every day,” he said. “Those first couple of days, there was a good amount [of blank stares], but as the practices went on, as the corrections were made, they’re starting to disappear.
“Those first couple of days, the installs and everything, I was learning but I wasn't really confident. I was thinking a lot, I was second guessing myself. But really digging in in the film room, correcting my mistakes and not letting those same mistakes happen again. That really boosts my confidence. So, when I know what I'm doing and I could play fast, that's the biggest leap I've taken during these OTAs.”
Engram, of course, came to the Giants with the reputation of being one of the new breed of tight ends, a guy who could move around, catch passes, be a match-up problem for defenses, but who wouldn’t help much as a blocker.
The 6’3”, 236-pound Engram is hoping to show that he can be more than just “willing” as a blocker.
“I don't pay a lot of mind to it, but that's one of, I guess what people would call one of the downfalls of my game,” Engram said. “But I'm willing to show my worth in that aspect and I think if I really become great in that aspect of the game, and be a force with that, I'll just be a better all-around player.”
Friday was my first opportunity to listen to Engram speak. He is pleasant, well-spoken, appears to be a hard-working youngster who is serious about his craft. The real football is well down the road, but for now the Giants’ first-round pick seems to be off to a good start.
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