It is remarkable what one good year can do.
After a career-reviving 2023 season, Evan Engram is in the process of changing the narrative surrounding his time in the NFL.
Still, there is plenty of discourse surrounding whether his most recent campaign is a one-off, or indicative of bigger things to come.
This past week, Sports Illustrated tabbed 32 players from all 32 teams based on who is the most underrated. Engram was the player named for the Jags.
On the other hand, former Jaguars tight end and Bachelorette star Clay Harbor took Engram’s upside in a list of his top tight end rankings.
Harbor put out a list on The 33rd Team about the NFL’s top-7 tight ends and the nine-year NFL vet rated Engram seventh.
There were times people got down on Evan Engram, a former first-round pick by the New York Giants out of Mississippi. However, he had 73 catches for 766 yards and four touchdowns last season and had a big game in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ wild-card win. After career highs in receptions and yards, Engram added seven catches for 93 yards and a touchdown in the playoff victory against the Los Angeles Chargers. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence looked for Engram on third down because he’s a big-play guy. Engram’s play, along with Zay Jones’ and Christian Kirk’s, is a big reason why Lawrence had such a turnaround from his rookie year. He didn’t have a tight end in 2021, and he wasn’t successful. Engram changed that in 2022.
Harbor’s reasoning is solid: career-high production leads to more recognition nationally. Before last year, Engram’s best season came all the way back in his rookie year in 2017.
His first year with the Giants saw Engram snag 64 balls for 722 yards and six scores.
Before joining the Jags, Engram never saw another season reach more than 654 yards.
The six players in front of Engram on the rest of Harbor’s list are Kyle Pitts, T.J. Hockenson, Mark Andrews, Dallas Goedert, George Kittle, and Travis Kelce.
Engram slots behind a surefire Hall of Famer in Kelce, and a potential Hall of Famer in Kittle.
Goedert and Andrews have been solid for the past few years, but ranking Engram behind Pitts and Hockenson was based on Pitts’ upside and Hockenson’s ability to make contested catches.
The 33rd Team also ranked the top-7 tight ends based on potential fantasy football upside.
Writers Ryan Reynolds and Josh Larky ranked Engram as a fantasy tight end eight or nine, behind Darren Waller.
Evan Engram has always been a dynamic athlete at the tight end position, and he resurrected his career in Trevor Lawrence’s offense last season. The return of Calvin Ridley could have a significant impact on the volume of every pass catcher in Jacksonville this season. Still, Engram has familiarity with Lawrence after last year, and coach Doug Pederson has always focused on utilizing tight ends in the passing game. Engram’s 73 receptions and 766 receiving yards in 2022 represented career highs, and he’s still in his prime, turning 29 in September. Engram has nice spike game potential, but we have him in the TE8 to TE9 range, firmly behind Darren Waller.
Seemingly, the national media will continue to be split on the idea of Engram ahead of the 2023 season. Some see the former Ole Miss star regressing back towards the mean of his career, which would have Engram at about 56 catches, 599 yards and three scores.
Others seem to think his best is yet to come, largely considering who is throwing him the ball.
Engram’s contract fluidity seems to suggest the Jaguars’ front office is somewhere in the middle.
If all goes well next year, and Engram produces close or better than in his first year, there may have to be a revamped conversation on Engram being one of the best in the game.