Texas A&M's Mike Evans is the best wide receiver in college football. And his record performance of 11 catches for 287 yards and four touchdowns just scratches the surfaces of his talent. He's a crucial part of the Aggies offense.
But more than that, he's a big reason as to why Johnny Manziel looks like a top college quarterback. He's doing it without having blazing speed like most of his comrades. And he'll end up as a top-10 selection when he decides to head to the NFL because of it.
Evans Is Why Johnny Manziel Looks So Good
Mike Evans makes Johnny Manziel look better than he is... scouts know.— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) October 19, 2013
As my Bleacher Report colleague Ben Allbright points out, Manziel looks much better than he really is because Evans bails him out all the time. Very often, Manziel will throw it in a spot that Evans will have to make an insane catch to even get the ball.
But Evans is there to do that kind of thing. Of Manziel's 159 completions, Evans has caught 43 of them for 27 percent of Manziel's completions. Of Manziel's 2,289 passing yards, Evans has been responsible for 1,024 of them for 44.74 percent of Manziel's passing yardage.
And of Manziel's 18 passing touchdowns? You guessed it, Evans has caught nine of them. Without Evans, Johnny Football isn't the same player. He's not getting bailed out by his other receivers in the same way Evans bails him out. And he isn't getting the same huge plays from those receivers.
Evans Proves That Speed Isn't A Receivers Most Important Asset
Speed isn't Evans' biggest asset. Nor will it ever be his biggest asset. He creates separation with excellent route running and body control and catches the ball better than anyone else can in traffic. You don't have to throw him open—he's always open.
I said Justin Blackmon could be good as a "big slot". That's where Colston thrives. I don't see why Evans can't.— Andrew Parsons (@ap575) October 20, 2013
He plays the wide receiver position the way a tight end normally goes out there to catch balls. He lines up all over the field and makes catches that no human being should have any business making because he can body a defensive back out of the way.
As Andrew Parsons of Draft Mecca points out, he's very similar to Marques Colston on the field. He has enough speed to create separation but excels in so many of the other aspects on the field—like beating press coverage—that he sets himself apart as the best receiver in college football.
Evans Will Be a Top-10 Pick When He Leaves School
Where would you take Mike Evans if he came out for the 2014 NFL draft?
Rarely will you find a receiver go in the top 10 who can't blow the top off of a defense. And Evans is no different. But he's obviously not a speedster. So how will he end up going top 10 if he's not a true burner?
The same way A.J. Green or Larry Fitzgerald went in the top 10. Neither player is a true burner running in the mid-4.5 range. But they beat teams with their route running, agility and size—something Evans has in spades at a Calvin Johnson-esque 6'5", 225 pounds.
But with his body control, nose for the end zone and ability to break the long one at any point, there's no reason for the Aggies' best wide receiver to get past the top 10 when he leaves college. He changes games by just being on the field. And for that, he's the best receiver in college football.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.