NFL Draft Profiles — Mike Evans
Evans evolved into one of college football’s best deep threats in 2013, averaging a remarkable 20.2 yards per reception on 69 catches. The Texas A&M star frequently bailed out Manziel down the field, turning low-percentage deep passes into home runs time and again.
Along with his obscene per-catch average, Evans hauled in 12 touchdowns, good for a 10th-place finish in all of college football. When factoring in that this prospect played in the SEC, the production becomes even more impressive.
The wideout makes plays down the field. Combine his production with his elite size, reliable hands and great route-running skills and Evans is the type of player who can make an impact from Day One.
Bigger receivers are finding a way to be productive in the more wide-open NFL, as teams routinely make jump-ball throws down the field. Such a situation is where Evans excels.
Evans is a polished receiver who figures to make the most of his snaps, as the potential for big catches down the field is there on every play.
Not only can Evans bail out a quarterback on long passes, he also excels at finding windows and tailoring routes to the alignment of the secondary. Keep in mind, this is a player who accumulated 1,394 yards receiving in 2013, finishing second in the SEC to Jordan Matthews and seventh overall in the NCAA.
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Evans is creative in that he’s able to break off of his original stem and re-route himself into a quarterback’s line of vision. Most analysts will credit Manziel with making broken plays into long gains, but it was usually Evans’ great on-field awareness that allowed the signal caller to make things happen.
Evans has an inordinate amount of body control and is going to enter the league as one of the best pass catchers when it comes to boxing out defenders and making plays on the ball.
The former Aggie destroys man-to-man coverage and runs fade routes well. He’s able to find open spaces along the sideline, especially against Cover 2 defenses, which allows him to rack up 20-30 yard gains on a consistent basis. Evans put his game-breaking speed on display at the NFL Scouting Combine with a 4.53 40-yard dash, but showed he can also go up and get the ball with a 37” vertical jump.
Along with fade routes, Evans is nearly unstoppable on smash and post routes. Unlike many of the other receivers in this class, Evans would benefit from his team having an established No. 1 target already in place.
Evans is solid after the catch and he employs a deadly stiff arm move to get defenders off of him. Despite his large frame, he can outrun tackling angles.
In terms of an NFL comparison, Evans is very similar to the Buccaneers’ Vincent Jackson. Jackson, like Evans, goes up and makes plays on high passes. The receiver is highly successful in an offense built around the deep pass. Evans will immediately challenge opposing defenses vertically, which could lead to inconsistent week-by-week fantasy numbers but impressive cumulative totals.
Jackson and Evans have a similar body build, too. While Evans checks in at 6’5”, 225 pounds, Jackson is just a bit heavier at 6’5”, 230 pounds.
Evans will need to refine his underneath route-running skills. During his time at Texas A&M, Evans didn’t succeed enough on slants, hitches or other “quick-hitter” routes that would make him a versatile threat at the next level. Certainly, Evans can take the top off of opposing defenses, but he’ll have trouble challenging hook and flat zones.
The Aggie is strong at the point of the catch and embodies the football version of “playing above the rim.” He’ll be a factor in the red zone wherever he goes, but can also legitimize a pass-happy offense that attacks the deep sideline. Evans judges the ball well in the air and is able to adjust to long throws at the last second; many times, he gains an extra bit of separation as the ball comes down.
A strong-armed quarterback would allow Evans to truly thrive at the next level, as he figures to continue to win battles down the field.
Two of Evans’ best games in 2013 were against SEC powerhouses Alabama and Auburn, which proves he’s capable of tearing apart defenses at the next level. Evans has the tools to become a superstar at the next level.
Give this receiver a look on your fantasy league’s draft day.