Though they’ve added a number of key pieces on both sides of the ball, the Oakland Raiders still have some needs that need to be addressed. Having dealt with some of their issues on the offensive line through free agency– and quite possibly not wanting to be burned once again by taking a lineman with a high pick– the Raiders opted to fill other pressing needs. However, with Khalil Mack and Jadeveon Clowney already off the board, the Raiders used the fifth pick in the draft to address their need for a number one wide receiver by selecting former Texas A&M standout Mike Evans.
A big, physical receiver, Evans had a big hand in helping make his former quarterback, Johnny Manziel, one of the top rated prospects at the position, as many believe him to be. Evans used his 6’5” frame to get up and over smaller defenders, deftly snatching the jump balls Manziel often threw his way. Evans finished an impressive senior season at A&M with 69 catches for 1,349 yards (good for more than 20 yards a reception), and 12 touchdowns. His pairing with Manziel was one of the most productive in college football last season.
Evans adds another big target and dangerous weapon for new Raiders QB Matt Schaub to exploit– something Schaub did so well when he was paired with Houston Texans wideout Andre Johnson. The addition of former Green Bay Packers pass catcher James Jones brings some veteran experience to a young receiving corps that desperately needs it. Jones’ mentorship will undoubtedly aid in the development of Evans, not to mention returning receivers Denarius Moore, Andre Holmes, and Rod Streater. If this unit can eliminate the inconsistency and begin to truly tap into their potential, they could very well be one of the most lethal receiving corps in the NFL.
Evans isn’t a speedster and won’t burn people deep like former Clemson star Sammy Watkins, but he is a big, solid, reliable target for Schaub. Given his size, outstanding body control, and excellent hands, he will be especially deadly down in the red zone– an area Oakland has struggled in for quite some time.
Though he’s sometimes knocked for not having that breakaway speed, Evans is a possession receiver who can be counted on to move the chains much in the way Tim Brown used to do for Oakland so long ago. And that seemed to work out pretty well for the Raiders. Since Brown’s retirement, Oakland hasn’t had that solid, dependable, go-to receiver they’ve needed. Evans can most certainly fill that void. Some compare Evans to Vincent Jackson of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he personally believes he plays more with the attitude and swagger of Chicago Bear’s receiver Brandon Marshall. But truth be told, if Evans plays like either Jackson or Marshall, Oakland will have the reliable and productive number one receiver they’ve been in dire need of, and the Raider faithful will be one ecstatic group of fans.