Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze believes the Patriots are among the NFL teams that would be a strong fit for Rebels senior TE Evan Engram.
"Evan doesn't belong in an offense that has a tight end with a hand on the ground and has to block a 6-technique all the time," Freeze said on Wednesday during the SEC media teleconference. "That's not his skill set. But you put him in a fit like the New England Patriots or one of those, I think he'll flourish."
Indeed, Engram has been a constant in the slot at Ole Miss since his freshman season, and at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, he's on the small side for NFL tight ends used in the more traditional in-line role. Although Engram would fit the Patriots' offensive style, New England isn't exactly itching for a player in that role.
"He could fit in (New England's) plans in terms of how they use multiple tight ends. Would (Engram) be a direct need based on what they have now? No," said NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks. "But in terms of, philosophically, could he be a guy that plays for New England? Yes, because his versatility would allow them to create matchup problems."
Engram is now in his fourth year as a starter in Ole Miss' fast-paced spread offense. He's more of a big wide receiver than a smallish tight end. He's on his way to the best season of his career with 30 catches for 479 yards and four touchdowns in five games. For his career, he's approaching the 2,000-yard mark.
"I've seen him in spot action. I know he can catch and I know he can thread the seams and do some things in the slot," Brooks said. "I don't envision him as a hand-in-the-dirt, traditional tight end. He's more of a matchup player."
Whether it will be with the Patriots or not remains to be seen, but between Freeze, Brooks and Zierlein, there is a consensus on his future role.