Say whatever you want about Giants rookie tight end Evan Engram, but don’t call him a liability as a blocker.
Well, actually you can call him whatever you want because the 22-year-old Engram will only take it as a challenge.
“I don’t pay a lot of mind to (criticism about his blocking) it, but that’s one of, I guess what people would call one of the downfalls of my game,” he said after the Giants 10th and last OTA of the spring.
“But I’m willing to show my worth in that aspect and I think if I really become great in that aspect of the game, and be a force with that, I’ll just be a better all-around player.”
So far, he’s shown his coaches that he can be a two-way threat as a receiver who can line up anywhere on the field, and as blocker, though in the latter area, because there is no contact, his demonstrations have been limited to working against a sled.
“He shows a very much so willingness to block and to finish and strain the way we’re asking our guys to strain,” tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride said of Engram earlier this week. “He has a toughness and a willingness to go against anyone on our defense and I’m hoping that remains through the course of this season.”
It probably will so long as people continue to doubt Engram’s abilities. While the Giants rookie first round draft pick said that he doesn’t pay much mind to the criticisms of his game, he does use them constructively.
“I put it in my tank when I go to work,” he said.
As Engram continues to invest in the Giants offense and its blocking schemes, he believes he’ll be able to block as well as anyone on the team. To that end, he said he’s looking forward to squaring off against the Giants defense this summer when the pads go on and contact is allowed.
“Here the defense moves around so much, there is different fronts you have to read. Just a lot more mental toughness and mental sharpness that goes into the run game here. Definitely a little more complex at this level,” he said, adding that he’s “getting there” with his understanding of the blocking concepts.
As a receiver, Engram has so far shown the Giants he’s every bit the player they thought he might be when they selected him 23rd overall. Engram has shown good burst and the ability to out-jump defenders for the ball.
In the team’s final OTA, Engram lined up mostly split wide, but saved perhaps one of his best plays for when he was in the slot and he managed to pluck a high pass from Davis Webb out of the air and take it up field for some yards after the catch.
“We are excited about the young man,” head coach Ben McAdoo said. “He has a tremendous skill set to do many different things for you. He shows that he is willing as a blocker. Now we have to get some pads on him and get his fundamentals right there.
“He is a conscientious young man, he works hard at football and seems to enjoy it, he does a nice job in the meetings at this point and I think that he will get better as time goes on.”
Engram agrees, saying that his confidence has grown since the rookie minicamp to now. “Those first couple of days, the installs and everything, I was learning but I wasn’t really confident,” he said.
“I was thinking a lot, I was second guessing myself. But really digging in inside the film room, correcting my mistakes and not letting those same mistakes happen again. That really boosts my confidence. So, when I know what I’m doing and I could play fast, that’s the biggest leap I’ve taken during these OTAs.”