After an impressive showing at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, Texas A&M's Mike Evans is clearly the second-best receiver in this year's draft class behind Sammy Watkins out of Clemson.
Measuring in at 6'5" and 231 pounds, Evans dominated the college ranks for two years, catching 151 passes for 2,499 yards and 17 touchdowns—12 of which he hauled in last season as a redshirt sophomore.
At the age of 20 (he'll be 21 when the 2014 season begins), Evans is just starting to tap into his amazing potential. Though his production at Texas A&M was undeniably impressive, scouts wanted to know what kind of raw athleticism he possesses, and he didn't disappoint at the combine.
Evans didn't finish as a top performer in any of the drills, but he did post excellent numbers in most events and showed fluid movement during the field drills.
Here's a look at his numbers from Lucas Oil Stadium:
|Height||Weight||Arm length||Hand size||40-yard dash||Bench press||Vertical Jump||Broad Jump||3-Cone||20 YD Shuttle||60 YD Shuttle|
|6'5"||231 lbs||35 1/8"||9 5/8"||4.53 seconds||12||37"||-||7.08||4.26||11.58|
Immediately, the number that jumps off the page is his official 40 time of 4.53 seconds. It was just three-hundredths of a second slower than the 4.50-second time posted by Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas, who was widely viewed by scouts as one of the fastest players of this year's draft class.
His unofficial times were even faster. Here's a video of his second run, which clocked in unofficially at 4.47 seconds, courtesy of the NFL:
Even more incredible is that there's clearly room for improvement when it comes to his pure speed, as pointed out by ESPN's Josina Anderson:
Mike Evans lumbering too much through that 40. Left time on the track. He tried to use his upper body too much to stabilize & create power— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) February 23, 2014
Evans has the strength in his lower trunk to run a faster time w/ coaching. He has to coordinate his movement better . Strengthen back/core— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) February 23, 2014
In addition to his impressive 40 time, Evans put on an impressive display in the vertical leap, jumping 37 inches. Combined with his overall body size, including his long arms, the young man's catching radius is "insane," per Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com:
Mike Evans- 6'4 3/4, 231, 35 1/8 inch arms, 37 inch vertical jump. That is an insane catch radius!!— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) February 23, 2014
Throw in the fact that Evans is a phenomenal receiver with soft hands, as Shane P. Hallam of DraftTV.com remarked after watching him effortlessly navigate the gauntlet, and you have a recipe for success:
Mike Evans looked effortless going through the gauntlet, stayed in line and used his hands instead of body to catch.— Shane P. Hallam (@ShanePHallam) February 23, 2014
Because of his size, Evans is often compared to Vincent Jackson of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's not the comparison he sees, though.
“I get a lot of Vincent Jackson comparisons. That’s a great comparison,’’ Evans told reporters, via Jim Corbett of USA Today. “But I think Brandon Marshall. He’s vicious after the catch, big receiver who can go up and get it, catch it real well."
If he manages to play as well as either of them, then Evans will become one of the league's most dangerous receivers. They have combined to earn eight Pro Bowl appearances and are currently among the most productive players at any position in the NFL.
Watkins will likely be drafted in the top five, and if he is, then it's conceivable that Evans could be drafted as early as No. 7 overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Where will Mike Evans land?
At this point, it's hard to imagine the big receiver will fall out of the first half of Round 1, with teams like the New York Giants, the St. Louis Rams and the Pittsburgh Steelers looking for receivers.
Expectations will be high for Evans to step in and produce immediately, as it is for all first-round selections. With that said, if his past two years at Texas A&M are any indication, he's more than up to the task.
All combine results courtesy of NFL.com's results tracker.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78.