It’s high praise when one of the all-time greats of a franchise as storied as the New York Giants comes out in support of a rookie.
Former Giants tight end Mark Bavaro spoke to the New York Post at a charity golf event for the Otis Anderson Scholarship Foundation, and did just that when it comes to the newest tight end, first-round pick Evan Engram.
“He’s unbelievable,” Bavaro said. “I don’t know what he’s going to look like in pads and playing football. But he can move. He can run and he can catch. He’s impressive.”
Engram’s athleticism and movement skills are the first thing about the rookie from Ole Miss that leap off the screen. A “hybrid” or “move” tight end, Engram couldn’t be further from Bavaro — who hailed from a more smash mouth era of football — stylistically. However, as Shaun O’Hara pointed out in a segment for the NFL Network, that while Engram is an incredible athlete, he also has no issues getting his hands dirty.
Of course, while Bavaro may be a fan of Engram’s, the old-school tight end isn’t a fan of how the game has evolved. He said, “I don’t like it, it’s not football to me. It’s 7-on-7, and it’s very athletic. But it’s not football, where you get down on the line and where 80 percent of your job is being physical and hitting people and where catching the ball is like icing on the cake. Now catching the ball is everything.”
Bavaro also expressed some confusion as to why the Giants waited so long to give Eli Manning a top-flight tight end. Following their drafting of Jeremy Shockey in the first round of the 2002 draft, they had a steady stream of late-round and UDFA tight ends.
“I don’t know why they had that philosophy,” he said. “That might have gone all the way back to me. A lot of people didn’t know who I was or didn’t expect anything of me. But there have been so many front-office changes I wouldn’t think they thought of anything like that.”
The answer might be Bavaro’s old coach, Mike Pope, who helped the Giants get acceptable production from low-cost players like Kevin Boss and Jake Ballard.
But regardless, the Giants have an elite physical talent now, and one of their legends seems to think he’s off to a good start.