Let’s play the “what if” game in regards to the New York Giants and their pick of Evan Engram in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The offensive line of the New York Giants has been very bad this season.
Nobody can deny that, no matter how hard they try, and the two biggest culprits have been Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart at the tackles. It’s clear that Jerry Reese should have done more to address the offensive line struggles in the offseason.
One name that comes up often is Ryan Ramczyk, the offensive tackle who Reese passed on taking in favor of tight end Evan Engram in the first round. Some feel that Ramczyk, who landed with the Saints, would have been a better pick than Engram, including some who said so at the time.
While it is true that Ramczyk would have helped the team more at a position of need, at the time, the team was better off snagging Engram.
This has less to do with Engram’s or Ramczyk’s abilities and more to do with something outside of either of their control: Injuries. Ramczyk had a hip injury that limited him to only doing the bench press at the NFL Combine, as well as requiring surgery.
— Tom Oates (@TomOatesWSJ) December 18, 2016
Hip injuries are a massive red flag. First of all, although the timetable given would have had Ramczyk back in time for the start of the season, that was assuming there would be no setbacks. Even though it proved to be an accurate guesstimate, there still were risks.
Concerns about whether he would play were coupled with questions about how much the hip would hinder his play early on. While a rebuilding team like the Saints (who despite having Drew Brees, are in a rebuild) can afford to take a chance on him not playing or coming back slowly; a team like the Giants who were, at the time, looking to contend, could not.
A team hoping to have a good season can’t afford to wait around for their first-round pick to come back from an injury and can’t be waiting for him to get his game back while they try to win. They need immediate production from a player they draft that high, which is somewhat unfortunate as it forces teams to take lesser players who can make an immediate impact. That’s just the way it is.
Short-term, there were a lot of risks for the Giants in taking Ramczyk, and long-term, it wasn’t much better. Hip injuries are always a risk to reduce a player’s athleticism, especially when that player is 310 lbs.
Mobility and lateral motion is very important for an offensive tackle when dealing with fast edge rushers. A hip injury can significantly reduce the mobility of the large blocker and speed rushers can easily take advantage of that. Ultimately, although Ramczyk seems to be fine, at the time there were way too many risks to take Ramczyk in the draft.
Meanwhile, Engram had none of those injury concerns off the bat. He is an amazingly talented player and he does help the Giants at a tight end position that has been weak for a number of years. He give quarterback Eli Manning another threat and has the potential to become one of the better tight ends in the NFL for years to come.
This isn’t to say that Reese isn’t blameless in the struggles of the offensive line. He had other options, such as drafting a different lineman or trading for Joe Thomas of the Browns. The fact that he did nothing with all the options he had is a serious problem. But he did make the right decision at the time by passing on Ramczyk.
Hindsight being what it is, the Giants would have been better off with Ramczyk. However, at the time, due to the injury risks, taking Engram was the better choice.