The New York Giants got a tight end and a deep threat in one package in the NFL draft.
In another move to revive their anemic offense, the Giants selected speedy Mississippi tight end Evan Engram with the 23rd pick overall Thursday.
The All-American had a breakout senior season, catching 65 passes for 926 yards and eight touchdowns. He opened eyes at the NFL combine, running a 4.42 second, 40-yard dash, one of the fastest times by any wide receiver or tight end.
His speed should help Eli Manning beat the two-high safety coverage that gave New York’s offense problems last season.
“We think this guy can be a dynamic weapon in our offense,” general manager Jerry Reese said. “Obviously, he had great speed for his position. We think he can be a matchup nightmare for teams trying to guard him with a linebacker or a safety.”
The last time the Giants used a first-round pick to take a tight end in the draft was 2002, when they took Jeremy Shockey.
“I knew I deserved to be and I knew I should be,” Engram said when asked if he felt he would be picked in the first round. “I know what I bring to the table. My game is so dynamic and I am so confident in myself.”
Engram isn’t your old fashioned tight end. He is more an H-back who can line up in the backfield, in the slot, out wide and even at the standard spot beside the tackle.
“The fastest way to the end zone is down the middle of the field,” coach Ben McAdoo said. “Anytime you can add someone to your offense that can run down the middle of the field with that type of speed and length, it stresses the defense.”
The Giants have struggled at tight end in recent seasons, relying on free agents Will Tye and Larry Donnell to carry the load. Tye led the tight ends last season with 48 catches for 395 yards and one touchdown.
Engram had watched videotapes of the Giants’ offense and he feels he can make major contributions playing with Odell Beckham Jr., free agent wideout Brandon Marshall and second-year receiver Sterling Shepard.
“We see him as a weapon and we’ll take all the weapons we can get,” Reese said.
Engram said he has met Manning at some functions at Mississippi and he caught passes from him.
“I can’t wait to play with him and be a great player for this team,” Engram said.
The offense still needs help, so expect the Giants to take either ran offensive lineman and a running back in second or third round on Friday. While the defense has 10 of 11 starters returning, Steve Spagnuolo’s unit could use an inside linebacker and a defensive tackle, with the tackle spot being a bigger need after losing Johnathan Hankins to free agency.