Evan Engram was a certified playmaker coming out of Ole Miss in the 2017 NFL Draft. However, his slender build, vertical speed, and college alignment history led many to question what his best position would be at the next level.
When the New York Giants pulled the trigger on Engram with the 23rd-overall pick in that draft, some wondered if Big Blue envisioned him as the eventual replacement to big-bodied wideout Brandon Marshall, rather than the answer at tight end.
Three years into his pro career, and Engram has served predominately as a tight end. Yet, after an offseason where the Giants failed to add any notable pieces to their receiving arsenal, the question of Engram’s transition to wideout has once again resurfaced.
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Is Evan Engram Primed for a Position Change?
In a recent Giants Mailbag column on The Athletic, a reader tossed out the idea to Dan Duggan of the team potentially entertaining a position change for Engram from tight end to wide receiver.
The idea of moving Evan Engram to wide receiver comes up frequently. It’s understandable since fans see a talented receiving threat with durability concerns and figure his injury woes would be reduced if he didn’t have to tangle with 270-pound defensive ends.
But there’s no evidence that playing tight end has led to Engram’s injuries. I understand the wear-and-tear argument some might make, but his injuries have typically been of the soft tissue variety or the result of a direct hit while carrying the ball. He suffered the foot injury that ended his 2019 season while being tackled. So I just don’t see a correlation between his position and his injuries.
Engram’s Position Designation Doesn’t Matter
You can call Engram what you want, but unless your main priority is fantasy football, it means absolutely squat whether you deem him a wide receiver or a tight end.
The Giants will continue to allow Engram to function where he can be the most successful. This, of course, being working out of the slot and serving as a mismatch on opposing linebackers and safeties.
Duggan points to this sentiment as a reason why he doesn’t foresee a full-time transition to wideout in Engram’s future.
I also think moving Engram to wide receiver would negate what he brings to the table. His speed at tight end makes him a mismatch against linebackers and safeties. But that advantage would mostly disappear against cornerbacks. Engram already spends a decent amount of his snaps lined up in the slot, so maybe things could skew more in that direction. But I don’t ever see him making a full-time transition to wide receiver.
Engram is entering a make-or-break season with Big Blue. Yes, his struggles with injuries can certainly disgruntle Giants fans. However, there’s no denying that when he’s on the field, he’s one of the league’s biggest threats at the position.
If he once again gets bitten by the injury bug in 2020, chances are New York entertains moving on from the former 1st-rounder via trade next offseason. However, as Duggan notes, it would be extremely difficult for Big Blue to find someone that can replace Engram’s talent.
As for finding a “bigger TE who can put up big numbers,” there’s about 28 teams in the market for one of those. Barring a monumental leap from Kaden Smith, I don’t think the Giants have one currently on the roster.