Evan Engram

East Notes: Zeke, Giants, McCoy

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott managed to escape a suspension for a potentially troublesome incident in May, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk suggests that if Elliott should even come close to violating the league’s personal conduct policy again, the punishment will be severe. Commissioner Roger Goodell gave everyone in the league office this week off, so Florio believes the only reason for Goodell to summon Elliott to league headquarters on Tuesday was to sufficiently scare him into staying on the straight and narrow. Goodell has been less harsh with players who run afoul of league policies in recent history, but if Elliott should put another toe out of line in the future, the commissioner will likely hand out a lengthy ban, and his decision to not suspend Elliott this time will help to justify such a measure.

Now for more the league’s east divisions:

  • There do not seem to be any starting jobs up for grabs along the Giants‘ defensive line, even though the presumptive starters are young and mostly unproven. However, with that youth comes a great deal of potential, and one of the keys to Big Blue’s immediate prospects is the realization of that potential. Third-year player Dalvin Tomlinson, second-year talent B.J. Hill, and rookie Dexter Lawrence are expected to open the season atop the Giants’ D-line depth chart, as Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes, and the addition of Lawrence allows Tomlinson to slide into a traditional nose tackle spot, to which he is better-suited.
  • In a separate 2019 positional preview piece, Schwartz examines the Giants‘ tight end group, which is headed by Evan Engram. Engram had a disappointing start to 2018, his second professional season, but when Odell Beckham missed the final four games of the season, Engram excelled and finished with some positive momentum. Now that OBJ is in Cleveland, New York will need Engram to show more of the same in a crucial year for his development. The club’s second TE, Rhett Ellison, is a favorite of HC Pat Shurmur, while returnee Scott Simonson will have to hold off C.J. Conrad — a UDFA who impressed this spring — and former Syracuse QB Eric Dungey, another UDFA who is trying to make the club as a TE/gadget player.
  • Vic Carucci of BNBlitz.com says it’s possible that Bills GM Brandon Beane and LeSean McCoy have adamantly pushed the notion that McCoy will be the team’s starter in 2019 in order to generate some trade interest. After all, the club does have a large stable of RBs, and McCoy, a 2020 free agent, appears to be nearing the end of his career. But Carucci says he has heard nothing to indicate that Buffalo is seeking to trade McCoy.
  • In the same piece, Carucci says he believes Levi Wallace will start for the Bills at cornerback opposite TreDavious White.
  • In case you missed it, we heard this morning that Cowboys edge rusher Randy Gregory will be applying for reinstatement shortly.
  • Also from this morning: the Giants may deploy safety Jabrill Peppers as their primary punt returner.

Extra Points: XFL, Giants, Vikings

The AAF may have imploded in spectacular fashion, but that doesn’t mean people are done taking cracks at spring football leagues. Vince McMahon’s XFL is gearing up to start play early next year, and they’ve already made some big hires. They’re now moving on to filling out the rosters, and some recognizable names are resurfacing. We heard a couple days ago that Landry Jones, Aaron Ripkowski, and Christine Michael would be auditioning, and now we have even more names to report. Trevone Boykin, Lance Dunbar, Kony Ealy, and Ahmad Dixon were at a showcase yesterday as well as a handful of other ex-NFLers, per Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link).

According to a tweet from Optimum Scouting’s Erik Galko, former Seahawks receiver Kasen Williams will also be among those trying out. Finally, a tweet posted by the XFL Houston account shows that NFL veterans Will Hill and Robert Meachem also participated in a camp. Meachem is 34 and last played in the NFL with the Saints back in 2014, so this would be quite the comeback. While the XFL will still be facing an uphill battle, they do appear to be in better position than the AAF. McMahon seems fully invested in the league, and the TV deal the league has is far superior. It’ll be interesting to see how it pans out.

Here’s more from around the football universe:

  • Speaking of the XFL, one of their big hires was when they named Daryl “Moose” Johnston the director of player personnel for their Dallas franchise. Johnston was the GM of the AAF’s San Antonio Commanders, so he has experience in this type of league. Most players in the AAF and XFL were looking to get back to the NFL, and it’s no different for coaches and execs. Johnston wants to be an NFL GM one day, per Machota. Johnston spent all 11 years of his pro career with the Cowboys as a fullback, winning three Super Bowls with the team. He made the Pro Bowl twice and has done a lot of broadcasting work for FOX since retiring.
  • Evan Engram missed the Giants’ recent minicamp, which raised some eyebrows. But thankfully he’s not dealing with anything serious, as Engram said today at Landon Collins‘ charity softball game that the Giants were just being “cautious” by holding him out, per Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com (Twitter link). He also writes there’s “nothing lingering from last season.” Engram had a breakout rookie season in 2017, but took a step back last year while dealing with injuries. Hamstring and knee injuries limited Engram to just 11 games last year, but he finished strong down the stretch. In each of his last four games he finished with at least 75 yards, so he should be poised for a bounce back 2019 campaign.
  • 2018 first round pick Mike Hughes got off to a solid start last year. The Vikings cornerback had a pick-six in the first game of his career, but his rookie season ended in devastating fashion. The UCF product had his season ended by a torn ACL after just six games, and has been rehabbing ever since. Things appear to be going well, but the team is being cautious with him. To that end, Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer recently said that he wouldn’t get any practice in until training camp at the earliest, per Andrew Kramer of the Star Tribune. We heard recently the Vikings were listening to trade offers for both Trae Waynes and Xavier Rhodes, which would seem to indicate they’re optimistic about Hughes’ recovery.

Extra Points: Falcons, Giants, Eagles, Bucs

The 1-4 Falcons could face the Buccaneers without running back Devonta Freeman, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Freeman, who missed three games with an MCL sprain, is actually dealing with a new injury, as Rapoport indicates it’s a bone bruise that’s threatening to keep Freeman out of Sunday’s action. While Freeman didn’t practice today, he did work on the side, although his status for Week 6 is “in doubt, per Rapoport. Without Freeman, Atlanta would deploy a Tevin Coleman/Ito Smith combination that was used in Weeks 2-5.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Speaking of injury news, the Giants have already ruled out tight end Evan Engram for Thursday night’s game against the Eagles, meaning Rhett Ellison, who has shouldered the load since Week 3, will take over at tight end once again. Edge rusher Oliver Vernon, who’s missed the entire season to this point with an ankle issue, will make his 2018 debut. On the other side of the field, the Eagles have listed defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, safety Corey Graham, and running back Darren Sproles as out. The latter two are especially concerning, as Philadelphia recent placed defensive back Rodney McLeod and running back Jay Ajayi on injured reserve.
  • Although Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said he’d make changes following a loss to the Jets on Sunday, defensive coordinator Joe Woods will not be relieved of his play-calling duties, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link). Denver gave up 512 yards of offense against New York, including a whopping 334 on the ground. Joseph, a former defensive coordinator himself, could potentially take over play-calling, but that’s not a move that will happen this week. Joseph also indicated that cornerback Bradley Roby, who was burned by Jets receiver Robby Anderson in Week 5, is still a starter “for now.” Adam Jones, who’s played on roughly a third of the Broncos’ defensive snaps thus far, could see more snaps if Roby is benched.
  • Under the terms of his five-year extension with the Buccaneers, guard Ali Marpet will earn $12.365MM through one year, $23.25MM through two years, and $33.5MM through three years, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Among left guards, Marpet’s $11MM annual average now ranks third, behind only Andrew Norwell and Kelechi Osemele, while his $27.125MM in guarantees ranks second. Marpet, who has started 44 games during his time in the NFL, has displayed exceptional versatility, as he’s played both guard spots and center in his career.
  • Broncos linebacker Alexander Johnson pleaded guilty to simple possession and failure to exercise due care while driving but subsequently had a DUI charge against him dismissed, per a report from the Associated Press. Johnson’s original arrest occurred in the summer of 2017, more than a year before Denver gave him $50K in guaranteed money to sign as an undrafted free agent. A Tennessee product, Johnson hadn’t played football in more than four years before landing with the Broncos, in part due to a rape charge of which he was later acquitted. He’s been inactive for every game in 2018.

Giants TE Evan Engram To Miss Time

Giants tight end Evan Engram sprained his MCL and will be considered week to week, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). The second-year tight end will be out for Sunday’s game against the Saints and his availability is in doubt for subsequent weeks. 

Engram, chosen 23rd overall in the 2017 draft, was hit low by Texans defensive back Kareem Jackson after a catch on Sunday. The tight end gained 19 yards on the play, but it proved to be his only reception of the day.

The Giants are expected to lean a bit more on Rhett Ellison while Engram is out, and they also have Scott Simonson on the roster as a backup. Ellison is known mostly for his blocking ability, however, so the Giants may look to survey outside options.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Sign Evan Engram

The Giants have signed their first-round pick, tight end Evan Engram, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY (on Twitter). The team’s entire six-player draft class is now under contract.

Evan Engram

Engram, whom the Giants chose 23rd overall, played the previous four years at Ole Miss, where he combined for 162 receptions and 15 touchdowns. He pulled in career highs in catches (65), yards (926) and scores (eight) last year en route to First-Team All-America honors and a high selection in the draft. Now, the field-stretching Engram (6-foot-3, 234 pounds) should take over as the Giants’ top tight end, supplanting Will Tye, who caught 48 passes for a paltry 8.2 yards per reception last season.

Here’s a refresher on the rest of Big Blue’s picks:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Notes: OL, Blount, Engram, Mahomes

The Giants exit draft weekend without many questions about their defense, but their offense has a few. Mainly, Big Blue’s offensive line may still have some issues, particularly after the blocking prospect the team preferred, Garett Bolles, went just before New York made its first-round selection. The Giants were hoping the Broncos, whose left tackle need is probably bigger than theirs since former first-rounder Ereck Flowers is an option in New York, would bypass Bolles in favor of Ryan Ramczyk or Cam Robinson, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv reports. Multiple sources told Vacchiano the Giants zeroed in on Bolles at No. 23, but Jerry Reese has not made a first-round draft maneuver — up or down — in his 11 years leading the franchise.

With Vacchiano noting the Giants were not as high on Ramczyk or Robinson, the Giants moved on. They did not select an offensive lineman until the sixth round, though, which is interesting for a team that has concerns — per the New York-embedded reporter — about Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg and newly signed D.J. Fluker entering contract years. Earlier this month, Reese said the positions up front weren’t solidified. So, the statuses of Flowers and Fluker, who played right tackle and right guard with the Chargers, are probably yet to be determined.

Here’s more from the Giants, courtesy of Vacchiano.

  • Multiple sources refuted talk of the Giants wanting to trade up to No. 10 to select Patrick Mahomes, who went to the Chiefs after they made a 17-spot jump. The Giants would have been willing to consider Mahomes at No. 23, per Vacchiano. But with Eli Manning likely to play out his contract as the team’s starter, and he’s signed through 2019, using a first-rounder on a quarterback may not have made much sense.
  • LeGarrette Blount was linked to the Giants on multiple occasions earlier this month, but the team’s selection of Clemson running back Wayne Gallman in the fourth round may have closed that avenue for the 30-year-old Blount. The Giants, though, haven’t moved on from the prospect of adding Blount, Vacchiano reports. However, it looks like they are going with a backfield depth chart that houses Gallman, Paul Perkins, Shane Vereen and Shaun Draughn.
  • The Giants opted to select Evan Engram over David Njoku, doing so despite the Miami product receiving a bit more pre-draft hype, and that pick was viewed by some as a reach. But Vacchiano notes buzz swirled about a team trying to trade up in front of the Giants to select Engram, identifying the Bills and Falcons as interested suitors. The Browns traded back into the first round to take Njoku, so they may have been in on this pursuit as well. Njoku was scheduled to visit the Giants earlier this month, but the team cancelled the meeting.
  • A jump in front of the Buccaneers or Broncos for the right to take O.J. Howard, whom the Giants “loved,” or Bolles would have cost the team a third-round pick, Vacchiano reports. The Giants stood tight at 23, viewing Engram and third-round pick Davis Webb as a better package than either Howard or Bolles.
  • Webb’s addition makes Geno Smith‘s place in New York odd, with Vacchiano writing the former Jets starter is almost certain to open camp on the PUP list and is a likely candidate for the Reserve/PUP come the regular season. Smith is recovering from a torn ACL and is signed through 2017 only. Vacchiano views returning backup Josh Johnson as the favorite to beat out Smith for a job. This could end up being a paid rehab year for the fifth-year passer, especially considering Manning hasn’t missed a start since becoming the starting quarterback in 2004.

Draft Rumors: Broncos, Titans, Peppers

The latest NFL Draft rumors:

  • I’d caution you to take this with a grain of salt, but that disclaimer comes with most of the draft rumblings that you’ll hear today. The Broncos have talked to the Titans about trading up to the No. 5 pick, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report tweets. The asking price might be too rich for the Broncos, Cole notes, but it’s at least something that they’re exploring.
  • It sounds like teams are more concerned with Jabrill Peppers‘ fit in an NFL defense than his diluted urine sample at the combine, Tom Pelissero of USA Today tweets. His stock, apparently, remains the same as it was a few weeks ago: he could go late in the first, but it’s more likely he goes in the second round, per Pelissero.
  • In a bit of a surprise, Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram is making a push to sneak into the first round, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). That could lead to three tight ends being taken in the first round between Alabama’s O.J. Howard, Miami’s David Njoku, and Engram. The Giants, Falcons, and Browns are among the potential fits for him in the No. 23-33 area, Pelissero tweets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Draft Notes: Giants, Jaguars, Bears, Jets

Due to his ability to block and catch passes, Alabama tight end O.J. Howard is likely on top of the Giants draft board, surmises ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan. The organization is also high on Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey.

Meanwhile, after having to deal with the Josh Brown situation last season, Raanan believes there’s little chance that the organization ends up selecting embattled running back Joe Mixon. The writer also has a difficult team envisioning the team taking defensive tackle Malik McDowell or running back Dalvin Cook.

Let’s take a look at some other draft notes from around the NFL…

  • Utah offensive tackle Garett Bolles visited the Jaguars last week, reports Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller (via Twitter). As the reporter notes, offensive line coach Pat Flaherty previously worked out the prospect. The lineman attended Snow College for two years before transferring to the University of Utah last year. During his lone season with the team, Bolles was named to the First Team All-Pac-12.
  • The Bears are set to meet with Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram, reports Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun Times (via Twitter). The senior finished with career-highs across the board in 2016, collecting 65 receptions for 926 yards and eight touchdowns. Engram has been commended for his blocking ability, and his 6-foot-3 frame has led some to compare him to Redskins tight end Jordan Reed.
  • The Jets “really like” Missouri linebacker Charles Harris, writes ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini. The junior finished last season with 35 tackles and nine sacks. The writer notes that the linebacker would fit into the team’s scheme as a rush linebacker. Meanwhile, Cimini notes that Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan is “married to his best-player-available philosophy,” which could lead to the organization selecting running back Leonard Fournette or Howard with the sixth-overall pick.

Draft Updates: Ramsey, Goff, Underclassmen

With five weeks remaining in the NFL regular season, not many teams are looking ahead to the draft yet, but the NCAA year is winding down and many underclassmen are determining whether or not to declare their intent to enter this year’s draft class. Here’s the latest on a few prospects:

  • Florida State defensive back Jalen Ramsey and his family have spent “meaningful time” vetting potential agents as he considers entering the draft, tweets Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports. That’s no surprise, considering Ramsey is a potential top-10 pick.
  • A pair of receivers, Florida’s Demarcus Robinson and Pitt’s Tyler Boyd, are strongly considering entering the draft, according to Getlin (Twitter links). Getlin adds that one of Boyd’s family members has been looking into possible representation.
  • Sources close to Cal quarterback Jared Goff indicate that there’s a 99% chance he’ll enter the draft, and wide receiver Kenny Lawler is expected to declare as well, writes Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net. Bengals receiver Marvin Jones has been a common point of comparison for Lawler, per Pauline.
  • Boise State edge defender Kamalei Correa, who has received second-day grades, has been interviewing agents and is very likely to enter the draft, says Pauline. Maryland defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson and San Diego State cornerback Damontae Kazee are also likely to enter the draft, according to Pauline.
  • Indiana guard Dan Feeney, Mississippi State defensive tackle Chris Jones, and Mississippi defensive back Tony Conner are waiting to hear back from the advisory committee before making a decision on the draft, per Pauline.
  • Ole Miss tackle Laremy Tunsil, defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, and receiver Laquon Treadwell are all expected to enter the draft, says Pauline.
  • Other underclassmen considering making the jump to the NFL, according to Pauline:
    • Texas A&M defensive end Daeshon Hall
    • Alabama cornerback Eddie Jackson
    • Louisville safety Josh Harvey-Clemons
    • Mississippi tight end Evan Engram