There's a ton of uncertainty around Emil Igwenagu, but the one thing you can count on is the guy is as tough as they come. It remains to be seen whether Igwenagu is used as a tight end or a fullback in the NFL, but wherever he plays, he will not be a person defenders will be eagerly lining up to take on.
Best-case scenario is that Andy Reid has a new toy to play with on offense.
Iqwenagu (6'0", 245 pounds) was lumped in with running backs at the NFL Scouting Combine and, not surprisingly, scored the second-slowest 40 time with a 4.83. What was disappointing was that he finished near the bottom of the group in bench press as well.
Another bit of uncertainty around Igwenagu is how he will make the leap to the NFL game after playing at UMass, which finished its last year in the FCS and Colonial Athletic Association and will now begin a transition to the FBS. While Victor Cruz and James Ihedigbo have done well, Vladimir Ducasse has been in over his head from day one with the New York Jets.
What the Experts are Saying
Rob Rang from CBSsports.com cites Igwenagu's physicality as the main strength in his game.
Legitimate NFL caliber athlete. Good initial quickness, lateral agility to elude. At least moderate straight-line speed. Physical player. Plays with some explosiveness about him and doesn't back down from a physical challenge. Shows natural hands for the reception.
However, Rang also harbors doubts about Igwenagu's ability to make the big leap from UMass to the NFL.
Only played one season as a true fullback in college and that came in 2008. Obvious concern about his level of competition. Is a good all-around athlete for this level but does not possess the straight-line speed to run away from NFL competition.
Expected Impact as a Rookie
Throughout most of the sixth and seventh round, Igwanegu was listed among Mel Kiper's "Ten Best Available," but no teams bit on drafting the former UMass star.
However, once the draft was over, a number of teams contacted Igwanegu about his services.
The impact Igwenagu has as a rookie will depend on the role he is asked to play. If he is thrust into a fullback role, Igwenagu will have the opportunity to contribute immediately as a bruising blocker and an occasional receiver out of the backfield.
But if he is asked to play tight end or an H-back role, it may take some time for him to adjust to the next level.
Igwanegu has a toughness about him that can't be taught. While it might take some time to adjust to the speed and complexity of the NFL, if he has the opportunity to bury someone, he certainly will. Due to his physical nature, he is also a strong candidate to become a special teams contributor immediately.