Serious injuries and the departure of Greg Jennings vastly depleted the wide receivers unit for the Green Bay Packers throughout the 2013 season. As injuries have gone for the team, head coach Mike McCarthy and the organization have made sure the next man up is ready to compete, no matter what side of the ball it is on.
Particularly Jarrett Boykin benefited from the absences of James Jones and Randall Cobb, posting 681 yards and three touchdowns. With Jones departing to the Oakland Raiders, Boykin looks like the leading candidate to man down the third wide receiver position, but the cupboard is rather bare for Aaron Rodgers beyond the third-year wide receiver. The need isn’t as pertinent as other positions, yet GM Ted Thompson could find a nice asset to the aerial attack with UCLA‘s Shaquelle Evans on the second or third day of the 2014 NFL Draft.
The Inglewood, Cali. native originally began his collegiate career with Notre Dame, seeing eight games of action during his 2009 freshman season only to return back to sunny California where he finished his illustrious career with the Bruins. In total, Evans led Jim Mora‘s team in receptions over the past two seasons, which vaulted him to 10th on the school’s all-time receptions list.
As I’ve mentioned in my past prospect profiles, I’m a big fan of consistency and steady improvement to somewhat project how a player is going to succeed in the NFL. Consistency can certainly be attributed to Evans, who caught at least one pass in each of UCLA’s past 28 games, but the improvement from season to season is less obvious.
He still increased his touchdown productivity from three scores in ’12 to nine in ’13, but his yardage and receptions dropped off significantly during the same period. Evans’ 6-foot-1, 213-pound muscular stature doesn’t begin to explain the decrease in production, so what gives?
For one, the wide receiver was covered a lot differently during his senior campaign with constant help over the top from the deep safeties. All together, my largest critique of Evans is his effort from game to game. During each of the 2012 and 2013 seasons, he had three games where he was held to two or less receptions.
Aside from his notable downfall, I am a big fan of Evans’ athleticism (34.5-inch vertical) and his ability to make plays in traffic. Against Virginia Tech in the 2013 Hyundai Sun Bowl, per Draft Breakdown, Evans was targeted on a whole host of deep passes from start to finish and he handled the physical contact well against the Hokies’ secondary, who were charged with two early pass interference calls.
Whether the opposing cornerback was using bump-and-run coverage or giving considerable cushion, Evans used his agility and quickness, rather than overall speed, to elude defenders and rack up four receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown.
Also, on Brett Hundley‘s 86-yard touchdown scamper in the second quarter, Evans aggressively engaged with the cornerback on the short side of the field, blocking him practically out of bounds near midfield that allowed Hundley to score. By and large, Evan is the physical wide receiver the Packers need in a complementary role, and Thompson would be a happy man if he’s still around late in the draft.