49ers Draft Countdown: Making the Case for Mike Evans

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49ers Draft Countdown: Making the Case for Mike Evans
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In less than two weeks' time, the 2014 NFL draft will finally be upon us. For the San Francisco 49ers and their fans, this year's draft could be a memorable experience.  

Of course, that's if the 49ers are able to land Texas A&M receiver, Mike Evans.

Now, how would general manager Trent Baalke go about such a process? The 49ers first-round pick lies at No. 30, only before the Denver Broncos' and Seattle Seahawks' picks. Additionally, Mike Evans could go as high as the top 10 in the upcoming draft, making the jump up the draft board that much more difficult. 

Impossible? No, especially considering the 49ers posses six selections in the top 100 picks. The 49ers have one first-round pick, two second-round picks and three third-round picks.

With limited roster space, the 49ers will likely make a move up/down in this draft. While moving down would put the 49ers out of the running for Mike Evans, it at least allows them to accumulate future picks in 2015 and beyond.

Yes, the 49ers will have to be aggressive if they want to land a top-shelf receiver like Mike Evans. ESPN's Chris Mortensen (via Rotoworld's Evan Silva) believes the 49ers could be major players in the upcoming draft. This could be a classic Baalke smokescreen, but the logic is there with the plethora of picks at the 49ers' disposal. 

Here is my case for why the 49ers should draft Mike Evans. 

 

Mike Evans is the best receiver in the 2014 draft class.

With the above statement, I understand the vitriol that could be headed my way. 

Look, I love Sammy Watkins as a prospect. Watkins will be a great pro receiver, but I just personally believe Evans will have the better professional career. Additionally, I believe Evans is a better fit for this 49ers team, which is ultimately what matters in the end. 

At 6'5'', Evans gives the 49ers two much-needed elements at the receiver position. Evans brings the length and height to improve red-zone efficiency, while also showing the requisite speed to factor as a deep threat. 

In all honesty, the 49ers would love to have either receiver; however, if given the option, Evans should top Baalke's wish list. 

 

Mike Evans is a more realistic option. 

What do I mean by this? While Sammy Watkins won't get past the top seven, Evans could potentially go somewhere in the top 15. This should open up the opportunity for the 49ers to move up in the first round. 

Now, I can't imagine Baalke moving into the top five of the NFL draft. The 49ers would most definitely have to give up future picks. More than likely, a 2015 or 2016 first-round pick, in addition to a host of 2014 draft selections. 

Of course, Evans could find himself in the top five or seven picks, as well. If so, the 49ers will likely move to the next player on their board. Maybe they play it conservatively and move down in the draft. 

Whatever happens, it's almost a certainty that Watkins will be the first receiver off the board. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if quarterback-needy teams decide to make a run at the position, meaning less opportunities for Watkins and/or Evans. 

Regardless, Evans looks like the more realistic trade target at the moment. 

 

Michael Crabtree may depart in free agency. 

As we all saw last season, the absence of Michael Crabtree was felt throughout this 49ers offense. His return from injury not only sparked the play of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, but the offense as a whole. 

This did not go unnoticed by other NFL organizations, especially those struggling at the receiver position. Despite his short but productive 2013 season, Crabtree made himself some money.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If Crabtree suddenly becomes too rich for the 49ers' blood, Baalke will move on in 2015. The 49ers dealt with similar contractual issues during Crabtree's rookie year.

Crabtree deserves a hefty raise, but how much? The 49ers would love to extend Crabtree, but how about the other key players in line for extensions?

So how does this relate to Mike Evans?

Well, drafting Mike Evans gives the 49ers insurance in case Crabtree departs via free agency. Now, why can't Watkins or any other NFL receiver prospect fill that role?

While Watkins has the versatility to play multiple spots at receiver, I'm unsure of his ability against press coverage. Watkins has the speed to create separation, but so did former 49ers first-round pick, A.J. Jenkins.

I'm not comparing Watkins or any of the other draft prospects to A.J. Jenkins, but you have to wonder if a small-bodied receiver can hold up in the NFC West? Despite standing at just 6'0'', Watkins is actually built pretty sturdily, but will it be enough against the more physical cornerbacks

With Evans, this issue doesn't cross my mind. While Evans is just limited to an outside role at the next level, his potential as an "X" receiver makes it a worthwhile gamble. 

Some might compare Evans to Brandon Marshall or Vincent Jackson, but his game is more reminiscent of a younger Andre Johnson.  

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