Evan Engram found a new home Thursday night. With the 23rd pick of the first round of the 2017 NFL draft, the New York Giants selected Engram from a talented field of collegiate tight ends. There, he will join fellow Rebel alum and Super Bowl champion quarterback Eli Manning, himself taken first overall by the Giants in 2003.
Engram earned All-SEC honors four separate times and ended his tenure at Ole Miss leading the nation in career receiving yards. The former captain’s consistency on the field and demeanor off the field cemented his status as an Ole Miss fan favorite. Well, that and the fact that he left Oxford as the all-time leader in Rebel receiving yards, touchdown catches and receiving yards as a tight end.
Engram, forecasted to be a stretch first-round pick or mid second-rounder, should slot in as either a receiver or tight end for the Giants, depending on how head coach Ben McAdoo chooses to utilize his unique combination of size and speed.
Engram arrived at Ole Miss in 2013, along with Laremy Tunsil, Laquon Treadwell and Robert Nkemdiche. All three went in the first round of last year’s draft.
The rest of the Thursday night’s first round, aside from a few surprise trades, arrived largely as expected.
Few were surprised when the Cleveland Browns took defensive end Myles Garrett with the first overall pick. Though speculation ran wild that the Browns might take a flyer on one of the draft’s talented quarterback choices, Cleveland never doubted the former Texas A&M star.
Garrett, a 6-foot-5-inch native of Arlington, Texas, boasts insane athleticism and a work ethic to match. His mental game may still be lacking in certain departments, particularly late-game focus, but a 4.64-second 40-yard time and a 41-inch vertical jump combined with Garrett’s 272-pound frame bode well for the Lombardi and Hendricks awards finalist.
After the Browns’ pick, the Chicago Bears traded up with the San Francisco 49ers to collect the second overall pick, which they used on quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. In exchange, the Bears sent the third overall pick, along with two more picks, to San Francisco.
Trubisky’s selection was met with mixed reviews; the Bears trading up for him indicates broad interest from the league, but doubts remain as to the former UNC quarterback’s true ceiling.
The 49ers emerged from the first round in far better shape than they entered. First-year general manager John Lynch turned one pick into three and brought on Solomon Thomas, an edge rusher with flexibility along the line. The 49ers had been linked with Thomas for weeks before Thursday’s draft, a good sign for the front office in San Francisco.
A pair of LSU players, Leonard Fournette and Jamal Adams, was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets, respectively. Fournette, a bulldozer-like running back, terrorized SEC defenses during his time as a Tiger, racking up 1,034 rushing yards in his freshman season alone. Ole Miss fans may also remember the three-touchdown, 287-yard clinic Fournette ran when the Rebels visited Baton Rouge last season.
Adams, son of George Adams, a former New York Giants player and Super Bowl champion, personified leadership during his tenure at LSU, earning a reputation for bull-ish aggression and bravery. While not perfect (scouts question his hands and anticipation), Adams can surely improve the Giant’s middling secondary.
Fellow Rebels Chad Kelly, Damore’ea Stringfellow, Quincy Adeboyejo, DJ Jones and Fadol Brown remain hopeful entering the second round tomorrow.