|Class:||RS Sophomore||40 time:||4.54|
USC‘s Marqise Lee and Clemson‘s Sammy Watkins came into the 2013 season atop the receiver rankings of virtually every NFL Draft scout around. However, they’ve both been vaulted over on many draft boards this year by Texas A&M wideout Mike Evans, who has made a fantastic impression as the primary receiver in the encore performance of the Johnny Manziel show.
Evans plays very similarly to San Francisco 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin. He has a very complex style of play in which he can both stretch the field for big gains and get up high to make tough catches in the end zone. He uses every bit of his 6-foot-5 frame to his advantage, and he’s able to stretch all over the place to make plenty of difficult catches.
He’s lit up the stat sheet plenty of times this year, but none more than this past week, when Evans absolutely torched Auburn in the Aggies’ second loss of the season. Evans had a career-high 11 catches for 287 yards and four touchdowns.
There are a few concerns, however, that still make Lee and Watkins more attractive options than Evans. First and foremost, Evans is extremely raw. He’s a redshirt sophomore and is only 20-years old. He won’t turn 21 until late in training camp next year if he decides to enter the draft.
Evans hasn’t been relied on to run exceptionally complicated routes as he’s primarily been limited to streaks and curls, so teams will have to be patient with him as he gains experience and adjusts to a more detailed offense.
Secondly, Evans’ speed may be a detractor. He only ran a 4.54 40-yard dash while being recruited in high school, and he hasn’t shown the ability to break away from defenders with his speed. At the college level, he’s able to get away with this because of his physicality, but against stronger, faster NFL defensive players, this may be a bigger issue.
If he enters the draft, Evans is a virtual lock to be a first rounder. The only question is if he will leap Lee and Watkins in the draft order. As of now, it would seem that those two still have the edge, but Evans could certainly move ahead of them if he has a good combine performance.
- Big, powerful end zone target
- Gets downfield quickly and is a major deep threat
- Very flexible and positions himself well to make every catch
- Great hands and hangs onto balls above his head
- Moves across the field well
- Gives a good effort on run plays and uses his big body to make impact blocks
- Not a whole lot of breakaway speed after the catch; poor 40 time may be a concern
- Lack of experience, just a redshirt sophomore
- Doesn’t run very many complex routes at A&M and will need time to develop as a pro
Evans has had a spectacular 2013 season thus far. He’s second in the Football Bowl Subdivision in receiving yards with 1024, trailing only Oregon State‘s Brandin Cooks, who has 33 more catches than Evans. He’s also shown himself to be a great end zone threat and has nine touchdowns.
He can continue to improve his reputation with every bit of experience he gets, but it will be difficult for him to find a better stage to prove himself than he did against Alabama, where he had seven catches for 279 yards and a touchdown.
2014 Draft Projection: First Round