When the Giants used their first-round pick in the 2017 draft to select tight end Evan Engram, Mark Bavaro had one response: It’s about time.
Bavaro, arguably the greatest tight end in Giants history, wondered why it had taken so long for the organization to use a high draft pick on a tight end.
“The way the game is today, you need a big pass-catching tight end, a guy who can run like a wide receiver,” Bavaro told The Post on Monday during a charity golf event for the Ottis Anderson Scholarship Foundation in West Orange, N.J. “That’s the way the game is. But for some reason they wouldn’t get anybody.”
Engram is the first tight end the Giants have drafted in the first round since Jeremy Shockey in 2002. Since then, they have tried to fill the position with free agents and late-round draft picks. None of it really has worked.
“I don’t know why they had that philosophy,” said Bavaro, who starred on the Giants’ 1986 and 1990 Super Bowl-winning teams. “That might have gone all the way back to me. A lot of people didn’t know who I was or didn’t expect anything of me. But there have been so many front-office changes I wouldn’t think they thought of anything like that.”
Bavaro, who is partners in a financial planning business with former teammate Billy Ard, attended an OTA practice and liked what he saw in Engram.
“He’s unbelievable,” Bavaro said. “I don’t know what he’s going to look like in pads and playing football. But he can move. He can run and he can catch. He’s impressive.”
Bavaro played with the old-school Giants when tight ends were asked to block like offensive tackles, and if they could catch a pass that was a bonus. He was one of the best to play his position, spending six years with the Giants before one season with the Browns and two with the Eagles. He finished with 4,733 yards and 39 touchdowns.
Despite being a prolific receiver, Bavaro isn’t a fan of the new style of football where the passing game is dominant.
“I don’t like it,” he said. “It’s not football to me. It’s 7-on-7, and it’s very athletic. But it’s not football, where you get down on the line and where 80 percent of your job is being physical and hitting people and where catching the ball is like icing on the cake. Now catching the ball is everything.”
Call him old-school, but Bavaro still thinks you can win the way the Giants played when they used power football and defense to win Super Bowls.
“I think if you have the mindset with the right coach and the right attitude, I think you can still win,” he said. “It will end up coming back that way eventually. Right now, it’s 80 percent passing and 20 percent running and sometimes even more lopsided.”
Bavaro is hoping to see improvement on the Giants’ offensive line and an upgrade at running back this season. But he understands that might not be doable with today’s restrictions because of salary-cap limitations.
“They got the quarterback and great wide receivers,” Bavaro said. “But with the salary cap today they have to pick their spots. It’s hard to build a solid team. The only guy I’ve seen build a solid team is [Patriots head coach] Bill Belichick. I don’t know why other organizations don’t follow that mold. You don’t need superstars. You just need good solid players.”
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