When the Miami Dolphins selected Missouri tight end, Michael Egnew, with the 78th selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, many truly believed Egnew was going to be the team’s future at the tight end position.
In his first season with the team, however, he performed quite poorly. I’m quite sure we cannot forget his performance during HBO’s hit series: Hard Knocks. But Egnew’s troubles continued into the season, nonetheless.
Egnew was active for just two games out of sixteen. He also received less than thirty total game snaps. Yikes, so much for our third round pick, huh? This led many to throw Egnew under the bus as a bust already…
Slow down, buddy.
When Miami selected the 6’5”, 255 pound tight end, the team knew what they were getting. During his tenure with the Missouri Tigers, Egnew was featured as a “joker” style tight end. This basically means Egnew would line up as a receiver rather than as an in-line blocker (beside the tackle on the line of scrimmage).
Take a look here:
Here Egnew lines up split out wide in his “joker” position. Obviously the team is not going to send Egnew on a go route or something of that nature, but utilizing his size on a linebacker in space is a clear mismatch here. Egnew uses his 4.62 40-yard dash speed to beat the linebacker on a quick slant and picks up a key first down.
Egnew’s speed is also quite an asset that can be used similar to that of the New England Patriots‘, Aaron Hernandez.
On this particular play, Egnew is lined up as a receiver. Missouri QB James Franklin then puts Egnew in motion for a reverse. Yes, a tight end reverse.
Once Egnew has the ball in his hands, he does an excellent job of reading his blocks. Here both receivers are in position to block and Egnew picks up the tailback out of the back field as his lead blocker. The tailback then must decide to take on the linebacker crashing down or to head up field towards the safety coming hard. Egnew reads the block of the tailback (whom decides to take on the linebacker) and picks up the first down.
You didn’t think that he was not a blocker, did you? Egnew is more of a bulked up wide receiver, but he also can use his big frame to help set the edge. Here Egnew is put in motion and is almost used as the lead blocker on this edge run.
Once the ball is snapped, Egnew quickly gets into position to block his assignment.
Once he is in position, Egnew engages with his man and does a good job of moving his butt to the hole as my high school coach used to say. His technique is not “perfect” – head should be on the inner shoulder of his assignment and hips should be lower while in an athletic position – which is likely a reason why he spent much of his rookie season on the bench learning.
It was a great idea by Ireland bringing Egnew aboard. Head Coach Joe Philbin loves his tight ends, especially of the athletic nature. Offensive Coordinator Mike Sherman is an offensive genius, also. Sherman loves to utilize “speed” guys in space, similar to what Mizzou did with Egnew during his collegiate years.
That being said, Sherman’s offense may have been too complex for Egnew to pick up. Maybe he was not strong enough. Maybe he was not acclimated to the much faster and quicker NFL…
James Walker of ESPN is reporting that Egnew has impressed many during Miami’s OTAs. According to Walker, Egnew actually had his best practice of the past three weeks Monday. The second-year tight end reeled in three touchdown catches during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.
After practice when asked about his progress Egnew replied, “I’ve just been getting better every practice. I like the guys we got this year and we’re all getting better. I just went over fundamentals like everyone else. I wanted to make sure I got stronger, faster and quicker.”
It’s great to hear that this former third-round pick may finally be “getting it”. If Egnew can continue to improve and produce like he did during his tenure with the Tigers, Miami’s offense could be quite potent. Hell, the team’s tight end group could be quite dangerous.
Now, we certainly aren’t pegging him as Miami’s big-time tight end. Surely the guy will have to prove himself ten-fold to take the starting gig from Dustin Keller. But if Egnew has improved dramatically and contributes enough this season, Dolphins‘ GM Jeff Ireland will look like a genius for signing Keller to a measly one-year deal.