It may have took them four-and-a-half rounds, but the New York Jets were finally able to add a perimeter wide receiver to a receiving corps that desperately needs help on the outside.
Shaq Evans has good size for the receiver position at 6'1", 213 pounds. Unlike their previous pick, Jalen Saunders, Evans has the ideal build to play on the outside, ideally as a No. 2 possession receiver.
Evans is almost the direct opposite prospect that Saunders is. While Saunders wins early in the down with his quickness and speed, Evans uses his body, hands and balance to beat his defender for contested catches and get even more yardage after the catch.
He does have a tendency to drop a few easy passes because of a lack of concentration, but he makes up for his occasional drop with his wide catching radius. Evans can "pluck" the ball out of the air, making him more dangerous the closer he gets to the end zone.
Sporting an average 4.51 40-yard dash, Evans is not going to blow defenders away with speed, which limits his potential as a No. 1 receiver in the NFL. He also has somewhat average acceleration and burst, operating at one speed most of the time.
The Jets got good value with this pick in the middle of the fourth round. Evans has skills that will translate immediately to the NFL, but his upside is somewhat limited by his lack of speed—making the fourth round a prefect place for a player like Evans to come off the board.
Evans would fit perfectly in the Jets offense as a "Z" receiver, which is how he was used at UCLA. With Decker making all of the big plays on deep passes, Evans can work underneath to move the chains and pick up extra yards after the catch.
Still, the Jets cannot make the mistake of thinking Evans is a uniquely talented prospect that is position-versatile. Evans struggles to separate consistently and would be out of his element if asked to move inside to the slot or run too many deep routes that require him to outrun a cornerback.
Evans, however, is certainly not guaranteed playing time, even in a muddy Jets receiving corps. If he wants to start right away, he will have to beat out David Nelson and Stephen Hill—a doable task, but certainly not a guarantee for an unproven rookie.
If nothing else, Evans will at least be able to push both Hill and Nelson while providing much-needed depth at the position.
Evans may never be the bona fide No. 1 receiver the Jets need opposite Decker, but he should have no problem making a living as a move-the-chains receiver who can bail out his quarterback on third downs, taking some pressure off Jeremy Kerley and Eric Decker in that regard.
This was a quality pick for the Jets that fills a need with a player that went in an appropriate round.
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