There’s three big events an NFL Draft prospect has to boost his stock significantly after his final collegiate season and prior to draft day itself: the Senior Bowl, the Scouting Combine and the individual Pro Day’s. We’re now past two of them, so much of the draft stock that’s going to fluctuate has fluctuated. Who’s been one of the fastest risers? Texas A&M WR Mike Evans.
I wrote last October (here) that Evans’ biggest question mark would be his timed speed. He’s a big guy, and he plays fast on film, but there were rumors he could time in the upper 4.6’s, which would’ve decimated his stock. Following a 4.53 40-yard dash checking in at just under 6-foot 5, 232-pounds, teams can now check off the ‘Speed’ box on their player evaluations.
But it wasn’t just the 40-time that was impressive, nor his impressive stature. He measured out a 35-inch arm length (great for extension), a nearly 10- inch hand (it’s obvious why you want a receiver to have big hands, isn’t it?), and a 37-inch vertical leap (jump balls/end zone monster). Talk about a catch radius, geez. Add that to a series of good interviews and that’s a heck of a combine right there.
Post combine is Evans now the 2nd ranked WR in the 2014 NFL Draft class behind Sammy Watkins (Clemson)? There’s no doubt about it.
I’m not saying Evans will be a better long-term pro than Marqise Lee (USC), who’s the top competition for second receiver off the board, but he’s got more upside without a doubt. Lee logged a 4.52 40-yard dash, practically the same as Evans, but Lee checked in at only 5-foot 11, 192-pounds. Almost 6-inches and 40-pounds differentiate the two prospects, but they both have the same timed speed. I’ll take the big guy who can run and jump any day over the little guy who can run and jump, sorry.
If Lee had run a low 4.4, high 4.3 like he hoped, I could be singing a very different tune, so it’ll be interesting to see what he runs at his Pro Day. Remember, USC Pro Days are practically run downhill with the wind at your back, so he’ll have another chance for a better timed run.
How high does this place Evans in the overall draft rankings? I put him in that 8-12 range. I think Watkins goes somewhere between 5 and 8, and Evans shortly thereafter. Lee I put in that 12-25 range.
Regardless of just how high he goes, he’s got the physical gifts to contribute right away, and has the potential to be a true number one option for a long time.