Former Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans might have had Johnny Manziel throwing to him in college, but given his physical attributes, he has the potential to be a truly dominant player in the NFL.
At just 20 years old, Evans declared for the NFL draft after an impressive redshirt sophomore season with the Aggies. During the 2013 season, he went off for 1,394 yards and 12 touchdowns on just 69 catches, averaging an incredible 20.2 yards per reception. He had plenty of huge plays during the past season, but this 95-yard touchdown against Alabama was arguably the most impressive of them all.
Evans caught the eye of many NFL scouts due to his impressive 6'4'', 225-pound frame. His size usually created a major mismatch, helping him dominate smaller and less talented defensive backs at the college level.
Now, as the NFL draft approaches, Evans is showing that he will be bringing more than just his impressive size to whichever team selects him.
The NFL Scouting Combine was the perfect opportunity for Evans to show just how impressive he is physically, and he didn't disappoint. During the 40-yard dash, he posted an official time of 4.53 seconds, which was very impressive given his size. He also posted a solid vertical of 37 inches and ran the 20-yard shuttle in 4.26 seconds.
|40-Yard Dash||4.53 seconds|
|Bench Press||12 reps|
|Vertical Jump||37 inches|
|3-Cone Drill||7.08 seconds|
|20-Yard Shuttle||4.26 seconds|
|60-Yard Shuttle||11.58 seconds|
ESPN's Josina Anderson felt that Evans is even faster than his 40-yard dash time indicated:
Mike Evans just put down a 4.47 on 2nd 40. Here's the thing, he's much faster than that time too. Technique all over the place straight line— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) February 23, 2014
The combine workouts likely only helped Evans' draft stock even more, although the feeling was that he was already a solid first-round selection. Chris Burke from SI.com had this to say about Evans after the second day in Indianapolis:
The 6-5 Evans locked in a very respectable 4.53 40, comfortably ahead of several other receivers. Better yet, he glided through pass-catching drills with little trouble. Add that performance in to what he showed teamed up with Johnny Manziel in college, and it’s hard to see him slipping far out of the top 10, if he even lasts that long.
Per Burke, Evans said:
Everybody can improve on route running — that’s a quality to have. My freshman year, I felt my route running wasn’t as good. This past year, I felt I improved.
But I have a high ceiling. I think I’m one of the best players in this draft and I think I can just keep getting better.
There are a number of teams that could potentially draft Evans. Teams like the Detroit Lions, St. Louis Rams or Baltimore Ravens could potentially take Evans in the first round, and it doesn't seem likely that he drops to any lower than No. 17 overall in May.
Given his physical tools, Evans could be a frightening receiver for defensive backs to go up against. Not only can he be a vertical threat, but he can also use his size to maintain body position on 50-50 balls or use his vertical leaping ability to catch passes at their highest possible point.
Even as a rookie, Evans has the potential to be a serious threat in the red zone and could rack up touchdowns quickly. The way he plays compares nicely to a player like Vincent Jackson or Anquan Boldin. In fact, if he was drafted by the Ravens, he would likely fill Boldin's old role quite effectively.
Overall, Evans is one of the most impressive physical specimens at the wide receiver position, and his combination of size and speed should help him become a great receiver one day in the NFL.