Prospect: Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Height: 6’4 5/8”
Weight: 231 pounds
Grade: 7.15 (Grading Scale)
All measurements taken from the 2014 Scouting Combine
Strengths: Outstanding size and length for the position at nearly 6’5”, 231 pounds, with over 35” arms…understands how to use his big frame to shield DBs and present a target for his QB…extends his arms to catch the ball away from his body fairly consistently…extremely strong after the catch, can break tackles and drag defenders for extra yards…has developed the ability to vary speeds on routes to help get separation…polished jab step move that he uses to get inside release is very good…shows consistently improving body control with the ball in the air. Can reach back or down low and secure the catch on poorly placed balls…understands how to get open and present himself on broken plays or scrambles…has worked on quickening his release off the line to some effectiveness…works well in open space…has a top-end gear on deep routes that makes him formidable…well-liked by coaches and teammates, humble worker
Weaknesses: Completely devoid of any suddenness off the line…stiff in the hips and ankles, cannot cut sharply and has to downshift to make breaks other than his impressive jab step move…long-strider with build-up speed; once he gets to his third step he can fire up the jets but until then he’s often painfully slow…does not come down with as many contested balls as he should despite having a significant height/weight advantage…much of his production came on broken plays and in improvisational fashion, more a testament to QB Johnny Manziel than Evans himself…very little variety to his designed routes; Evans lined up over 90% of his snaps split wide right and ran one of three routes: a three-step turn-in, an outside fly with inside post option based on coverage, or a shallow drag…consistently pushes off and fully extends his arms in doing so. By and large got away with it in college but that’s blatant pass interference in the NFL…not a very effective blocker for his size…stops on plays not run in his direction and gives lazy effort from the get-go, telegraphs the run…inexperienced, just two years of college football
Overall: The key with Mike Evans is projecting what he can become. His size and long speed are tantalizing, but as he enters the draft he’s really not nearly as good as folks would like him to be. For such a big target, he’s not as adept at coming down with contested passes as he should be. His lack of quickness and agility, a function of his long legs and long stride, restricts his ability to get separation. Evans is aware of this, and he pushes off to compensate. He must learn to better conceal his push-offs, as he fully extends his arms and makes it very obvious.
Much of his production came on improvisational plays, where he showed an innate feel for flowing with the play and presenting himself as a target. He’s much more effective when the QB extends the play than in the designed offense, which makes him a better fit for a team with an agile, creative QB that can buy time. His production also came in clusters; huge games against Alabama and Auburn accounted for over 40% of his 2013 output, while he was nearly invisible in several others.
His spectacular performances vs. high-profile Alabama and Auburn demonstrate his outstanding top-end potential. They also create a false sense of expectations for what Evans is capable of doing early in his NFL career. His overall skills are fairly primitive, and his general tightness as an athlete (the downside of his size) will limit how much more he can really develop. To compare him to recent others, he’s nowhere near as complete or as physical as Alshon Jeffery or Julio Jones.
There is enough here with Evans to offer real value for teams that already have both an established #1 wideout and a mobile QB, but in other situations he will fail miserably to live up to the expectations that will come with his draft slot. He’s closer to Malcolm Floyd or Brandon LaFell than he is Jeffery or Vincent Jackson, to whom he is often compared. That’s still a valuable player, but not what teams or fans will expect with the top-20 pick that he will almost certainly command. He should be a late 2nd-mid 3rd round pick and has a fairly high bust potential. —Jeff Risdon
Texas A&M vs. Alabama 2012
–noted as weighing 213 by Gary Danielsen
–struggles to get release off jam, pushed outside
–sharp plant w/ outside foot on inside break, gets free on crossing route
–good effort and arm extension on block on Michael run, creates lane up sideline
–presents himself as big target on outside curl, seizes ball with his hands and turns upfield quickly. Bulls his way with great leg drive, drags Fulton a few yards to pick up first down.
–flagged for offensive pass interference, pushed off the jam with arms extended
–comes back to a frantic Manziel, bobbles initial catch over middle but secures it w/ second effort
–swiftly dodges the Fulton jam and gets two steps up sideline, but cannot out-wrestle Fulton for the back shoulder throw near goal line
–badly pushes off in red zone to get separation, cannot come down with jump ball vs. Fulton, who is 5” shorter and did not have good initial position
–contested sideline throw bounces off his shoulder and into the air, incomplete
–potential TD goes thru his hands over his head after he rounded his route and allowed the corner to catch up
Overall: Not an impressive outing for the lanky redshirt freshman. Despite being matches up almost exclusively against Alabama’s 3rd corner (John Fulton), Evans struggled all day to get separation. He could not come down with some contested balls despite having 5” and significant leaping advantage over the DBs. He was flagged twice for pass interference (one was declined) and consistently pushed off with extended arms, a big no-no at the next level.
LSU vs. Texas A&M 2013
–blatant push off on comeback route, arm fully extended. Nice stiff arm after the catch however
–nicely sets up inside release with his shoulder and hips, gets clear inside but well-thrown ball bounces off his hands. Ugly drop.
–extends out arms and hands to snare ball thrown behind him, but cannot keep either foot inbounds. Bad throw.
–long stride on inside release slows him down a count, allows inside zone man to flow to him and cut off throwing lane
–slow plays his initial step, then bursts past the corner (#21) slips the weak jam and gets 3 steps behind him some 30 yards down the field. Manziel airmails the throw well over his head.
–fights off heavy-handed chuck and makes the catch despite defensive pass interference
–quick outside jab step sells the fake and Evans cleanly breaks inside in red zone, Manziel misses him low. Bad throw.
–quick 3-step turn in, catches ball cleanly and makes first tackler miss with a stiff arm
–breaks free behind the zone and stays alert to Manziel wildly scrambling. Does a great job shielding off Loston as the ball arrives and makes the high-point catch for a big gain.
–outstanding body control on TD reception, fights off having his inside arm hooked and cups hands under the ball as he falls to the ground. Great catch on a bad throw.
Texas A&M at Missouri 2013
–gets away with a bad hold on the first play of the game, grabs Gaines’ shoulder and yanks him around
–lines up on left side once, breaking from his exclusive split wide right
–noted this three times in first two drives: goes half-assed, almost jogging, on designed runs
–nice jab step turns Gaines outside, Evans breaks inside with a clean release
–comes to a complete stop when he sees the flag thrown on a Manziel scramble
–on same page with Manziel, sees the big cushion and runs a quick stop, turns up the field quickly but gets corralled by Gaines
–as Manziel scrambles, Evans tries to cut from an inside route back outside, takes long step in the bucket and is slow to get his hips around
–quickly presents himself as a target, then adjusts with Manziel on the scramble but Mr. Football never sees him wide open
–very slow to get off the line, but bursts on his third step and flies past the corner as Gaines flips around
–cannot eat up 5-yard cushion, Gaines sticks on his inside hip up the sideline
–catches quick throw, immediately gets bowled under by Gaines w/ safety help
Overalll: Evans did not get much to do in this one, finishing with 4 catches for a net of just 8 yards. Manziel seldom looked his way, and E.J. Gaines proved a very worthy adversary in not letting Evans get clear with a 5-yard cushion
Texas A&M vs Arkansas
–clean inside release on skinny post, walls off the DB on his back as he makes the basket catch under contact
–pushes off twice with fully extended arms but gets away with it, sharply cuts back to a scrambling Manziel and catches the TD in the front corner of the end zone. Good field awareness here.
–cannot bring down contested jump ball in back corner of end zone, ball was well-placed
–whiffs on block, knees were locked and arms too high
–drags across the field and presents himself as a wide target for a scrambling Manziel, catches the TD amidst four defenders. Ball might not have been intended for him. Evans hurt his leg on the play.
–sharp in his first cut (a comeback) but gets loose and rounds subsequent cuts
–short-steps his initial release and gets off quicker. It appears he does it by mistake but it’s quite effective.
–excellent head/shoulder fake outside gets him a clean release inside, Manziel doesn’t see him wide open across the middle.
Other games viewed: Alabama ’13, LSU ’12 (seen in person), Auburn ’13, Florida ’12 (seen in person), SMU, Duke