NFL Draft: Standout offensive players from the 2017 Senior Bowl
By Dan Dahlke
Ralph’s Standout Tight End
Evan Engram, Ole Miss: The Mississippi State tight was as good as advertised demonstrating major giddy-up after the catch and evoking comparisons to Jordan Reed.
Engram runs and moves like a wide receiver and should be a major headache for safeties or linebackers entrusted with the unenviable task of defending the 6-foot-3 playmaker.
But while the three-year college starter can line up out wide, in the slot or in the backfield and make catches at all three levels, he’s not an in-line tight end.
Calling him a “willing” blocker doesn’t mean that he’ll be qualified to match up with NFL defensive ends given his long, lean 236-pound frame. He may be willing, but will he be able?
An NFL coaching staff will need to start from square one insofar as working on his technique as a blocker along the line of scrimmage.
But the Rebels all-time yards and touchdowns leader at the tight end position will be a high draft pick (think Day 2) due to his big-play potential to stretch the field and ability to break a few tackles along the way.
Not many tight ends in the NFL can take a two-yard dump-off and turn it into a 50-yard play. Engram is one of those people.
Dan’s Standout Tight Ends
O.J. Howard, Alabama: Howard was awarded the Practice Player of the Week, and for good measure. Howard stood out in every drill and team period, showcasing his athleticism, strong hands, and superb blocking ability.
On Tuesday’s practice, Howard hauled in multiple one-handed catches, as well as demonstrated his ability to go deep and make plays downfield.
Howard was the talk of the Senior Bowl, and perhaps the top prospect down in Mobile. He capped off the strong week with four receptions for 39 yards on four targets for the South squad in the game on Saturday.
Going into the Senior Bowl, Howard was widely regarded as a top-20 player in the draft. His performance throughout week cemented this take, and maybe even pushed him up to top-ten territory, especially after carrying himself well in interviews.
Michael Roberts, Toledo: Roberts was quiet in the Senior Bowl game, recording 1 reception for 4 yards, but Toledo tight end still impressed scouts throughout the week.
At 6-foot-4 and 261 pounds, Roberts is a stout in-line tight end with tremendous strength and run blocking ability. He also showed good quickness and route-running ability in passing drills. He’s an unsuspecting athlete with underrated hands.
After standing out last week in the East-West Shrine game, Roberts built on his momentum in Mobile and showed scouts he can hang with the top tight ends in this draft class.
Roberts looks like a solid mid-round prospect.