Evan Engram 2015 Preview
Evan Engram, 6-3/227
By Charlie Campbell
When Hugh Freeze took over the head coaching position at Ole Miss, it wasn't long before the Rebels started to bring in some strong recruiting classes. 2013 was specifically a banner year as Freeze had the No. 1-overall class with a lot of the top recruits in the nation. Other players got more attention, but one of the victories of that recruiting class was Evan Engram. The hybrid wide receiver and tight end would quickly make an impact in the SEC.
Engram notched 21 receptions for 268 yards with three touchdowns in 2013 while missing time with an ankle injury. It was a strong debut from the freshman as the third option after Donte Moncrief and Laquon Treadwell.
Engram was even better in 2014 as the sophomore caught 38 passes for 662 yards and two touchdowns. He did that damage while also missing three games and dealing with the streaky Bo Wallace at quarterback. Engram really stood out with some huge games against Alabama (3-71), Auburn (8-118) and Mississippi State (5-176). He had the most receptions of over 20 yards among all tight ends in 2014.
2015 Season Outlook:
As to be expected, Engram will see good linebacker and secondary talent in the SEC next season. In Week 3, the Rebels take on Alabama, and it will be interesting to see if the junior can help block the Alabama edge defenders along with run-stuffing linebacker Reggie Ragland.
In early October, Ole Miss goes to Florida, where Engram will see some good safeties and linebackers. When the Rebels take on Texas A&M, he could help double-team the Aggies' sack-machine edge rusher Myles Garrett, who is a potential high first-round pick for the 2017 NFL Draft.
Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State are all expected to field good defenses next season and represent three of the last four regular-season opponents for Ole Miss.
For the NFL, Engram is a simple evaluation. He is a tremendous weapon as a receiver, because he is too fast for linebackers - and most safeties - to cover and consistently makes big plays down the middle of the field. Engram has burst to get open and accelerate away from defenders to turn intermediate catches into long gains. Generally, he has pretty good hands, but there have been some glaring drops on occasion.
Against Alabama last year, Engram repeatedly picked on Crimson Tide safety Landon Collins. He burned Collins down the middle of the field for some big plays in Ole Miss' upset win. That game was a real statement for Engram.
There is no mystery that Engram has to add weight and improve his blocking. He needs to be able to contribute to the ground game enough that does not indicate a pass or run play by his shear presence in the game or on the sideline.
Assuming Engram can get into the 230-245-pound range, he would be a good move tight end in the NFL. Playing in a role similar to what Aaron Hernandez did in New England would be good for Engram. He will be a receiving threat to work defenses down the middle seam and running routes out of the slot. In short, Engram is a mismatch weapon who is very hard to cover in man coverage.
Engram is not a fit as a blocking Y tight end. However, there is a real demand for receiving tight ends in the NFL, and Engram could push to be the top tight end prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft.
2016 NFL Draft Expectations:
In the 2016 NFL Draft, Engram looks alike a potential second-day pick entering the season. If he has a big junior year with improved blocking and is able to sustain a good heavier weight, his stock could rise.
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