Yesterday we discussed the importance of the tight end position in the NFL today, and the Atlanta Falcons will try to catch their own lightning in a bottle in April’s NFL Draft. One player mentioned yesterday was Michael Egnew. With the Falcons having to be very careful with the picks that they do have in this year’s draft, Egnew could be a player that Atlanta could take in the mid to late rounds and get good value out of.
There are several opinions of Egnew around the league, but there is a fairly good consensus of what he means brings to the table. Egnew was a standout basketball player in high school. Many players like Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, and more recently Jimmy Graham were great basketball players in college or high school and were able to translate that rebounding style of play into jobs playing tight end in the NFL. We can check off that Egnew has that quality and will be an asset in jump ball situations, especially in the red-zone (see the picture featured above).
Egnew is a good route runner. He is long and lanky, more like a big wide-receiver, and is fast as well as quick. He shows good hands and the ability to catch the ball away from his body, a trait crucial for jump ball and red-zone situations. He is too fast for linebackers, and doesn’t get beaten with the press by defensive backs. He does what a receiving tight end is supposed to do.
There are some drawbacks. The Falcons drafted Julio Jones because he is a great receiver, but was willing to block and also a fine blocker for his position. Egnew is willing, but not very capable blocking for his position. One phrase that stood out to me in researching him is that he was described as a blocker who “gets in the way more than he mauls”. To me, that means that he is little more than a warm body that people must go around when he is blocking. That still delays the defender from destroying the ball carrier or quarterback, but it is a weakness of his game. Another thing is that his frame is described as very slight. While that is a slight concern in the blocking game at this stage, it has little to no impact in the passing game. Just look at New Orleans Jimmy Graham; he is not the most imposing TE in the game, and he looks much thinner than you would expect an impact football player to be. However his elite receiving and jump-ball skills cannot be denied, and this is the light in which I think we can view Egnew.
Egnew is listed as the 107th best prospect in the 2012 NFL draft. That would put him smack in the middle of the 4th Round, exactly where the Falcons don’t have a pick. There is no certainty that the Falcons take a TE this season, but if they do, Egnew is a great idea, and I don’t think it would be too much of a reach to take him with their 3rd Round No. 84 overall pick. Sure it would be a reach, but the Falcons would be getting real value from Egnew, and he would provide an immediate as well as long-term impact.