2014 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Mike Evans

March 4th, 2014

Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans eased some concerns about his speed with an impressive performance at the NFL Scouting Combine (Photo: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports)

DraftBrowns.com Staff Writer: Justin Higdon

Big and fast will never go out of style in NFL scouting circles, but the emergence of the back shoulder throw in recent years has shifted some emphasis away from a receiver’s ability to separate from a defender to his capacity to make a contested catch. Texas A&M’s Mike Evans proved so adept at winning these battles in his two seasons of college football, that he is often credited with “bailing out” his star quarterback, Johnny Manziel. Such a statement would be oversimplifying things and selling short a phenomenal talent, but Evans certainly did make life easier for the Aggies’ offense.

Mike Evans WR

School: Texas A&M

Height: 6’5”

Weight: 231 pounds

Hand: 9 5/8”

Arm: 35 1/8”

40-yard Dash: 4.53

Bench: 12 reps

Vertical: 37”

Three Cone: 7.08

Short Shuttle: 4.26

60-yard Shuttle: 11.58

Date of Birth: 8/21/1993

Evans redshirted during his first year on campus in 2011, and spent that time growing into his body.  By the time he took the field he had added about 30 pounds to his 6’5” frame, and immediately became a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. He teamed with Manziel for 1105 yards and five TDs on 82 receptions as a freshman, and improved on those numbers the following season.  As a third-year sophomore, Evans averaged over 20 yards per reception and found the end zone 12 times. His season included a 279-yard effort against Alabama; and a 287-yard, four touchdown explosion against SEC-Champion Auburn.

Despite Evans’ monstrous season, which included a number of long touchdowns and ample displays of open-field running ability, questions arose about his speed. At the combine late last month, he quieted some critics by running his 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds, and even clocked under 4.5 seconds on some stopwatches. Evans also displayed plus agility for a man his size, and his 37-inch vertical leap, and 35-inch long arms make him even more difficult to defend.  His combination of length and explosive athletic ability illustrate how he will be able to create separation from defensive backs even if they stay in his back pocket throughout the pass route.

Evans exhibits excellent body control for a receiver with tight end size, and is able to contort and stretch for imperfect passes while keeping his feet in bounds. He also showed off the instincts to think on the fly and improvise to get open. Because of these skills, Manziel felt confident that Evans could come down with any ball thrown in his general neighborhood.

At times Evans got himself into trouble with his physical style of play. He can be prone to offensive pass interference calls with his not-always-subtle push-offs down the field. Still, this is a move that receivers often get away with at any level of competition, and will work in his favor more often than not. His physical play can be an asset in the run game. When engaged mentally he shows the ability to be a ferocious blocker. As he matures (he won’t be 21 until August) it’s reasonable to expect more consistency in this area. Conversely, seasoning should help him tone down some of the emotions he’s shown on the field – in particular, tantrums like the two he threw in the Aggies’ bowl game. Such fire can arise from a competitive core, but can hurt the team when raging out of control. This is a message Manziel seemed determined to deliver on the sidelines during that bowl win over Duke. And Evans, despite all of his demonstrations up to that point, appeared to reign things in at his quarterback’s request.

Evans is tall, strong, fast and explosive. Regardless of a few on-field outbursts, it’s impossible to imagine him slipping out of the first round. In fact, it’s entirely possible that he is the top receiver on a couple of team draft boards. As long as Evans is able to control his emotions, he seems destined for long-term success.

Draft Projection: Top 15

Game Notes:

Vs. Alabama (’13)

  • Makes the catch on the back shoulder throw down the right (R) sideline (SL) and lands with both feet in bounds
  • Really has control of his body for a big man
  • Subtle push off down the R SL to make a catch on a well placed pass over his inside shoulder
  • Gets open down the R SL on a double move and makes the catch in front of the safety for a big gain
  • Goes up for the short fade in the end zone (EZ) but lands with a foot on the SL
  • Runs a post down the middle but adjusts to a comeback route and makes the catch – works his way back to the middle for some yards after the catch (YAC)
  • Draws a flag for a push off on a deep curl
  • Beats his man deep with a step to the inside and go move – tracks the ball well despite it being thrown a bit to the outside shoulder – has to slow but separates with a stiff arm and outruns the DB
  • Makes a catch on a jump ball in the red zone (RZ) late in the game

Vs. Arkansas (’13)

  • Open deep down the middle on a post and makes the catch with a defender hanging on him
  • Gets his body in good position to shield defenders
  • Really nice job working his way back to the ball on a rollout and gets open in the front corner of the EZ to make the catch and drag his feet
  • Misses a block on a short TD run to the R
  • Runs a crossing route in the back of the EZ and makes a leaping catch over three defenders – comes down limping
  • Back in and throws a block on a run play – looking back to the action
  • Can stop and accelerate pretty suddenly considering his size
  • Reaches back to make the catch on a post down the R seam – picks up a few YAC

Vs. Ole Miss (’13)

  • Gets both hands on a ball deep down the seam but pass is broken up – DB called for a personal foul on the play
  • Takes the quick pass, stutter steps and hurdles a defender trying to tackle low – gets to the first down marker
  • Makes the catch on a quick screen and is cut down almost immediately
  • Gets wide open on a crossing route late and picks up yards after the catch – tries to hurdle a defender and exposes himself to a big hit but holds onto the ball and picks up a couple of extra yards

Vs. Auburn (’13)

  • Makes the catch on the tunnel screen and does well picking up his blockers – shows open field speed and makes it look easy
  • Open on a post deep down the middle and outfights the DB to make a leaping catch
  • Excellent timing with the QB on a short curl
  • Makes the catch on a WR screen and scoots past a blocked defender – good balance along the SL and sprints for the 65 yard TD
  • Seals the outside on a block on a swing pass to the R SL
  • Comes back to the ball on a rollout to the R but has the ball go off his hands
  • Great instinct to break off his slant route and roll ball to the outside to find a crease – makes the catch and sprints down the R SL and finishes with a leap into the EZ
  • Gets open deep down the seam to the R for a TD catch – QB had all day to let the play develop
  • Blocking down the R SL but may have got away with a little hold
  • Comes back to the ball down the R SL to make the catch on the back shoulder throw – hands out in front
  • Comes back to the ball and scoops the ball off the turf for a great catch but short of the EZ. Makes the catch over the middle and shows some quick feet to get back to the outside and pick up YAC
  • Runs a deep curl and makes the catch out in front for a big gain
  • Fighting two defenders on a jump ball to the EZ but can’t come down with the ball

Vs. LSU (’13)

  • Runs a curl to the sticks and gets away with a push off – tries to shake the defender but can’t get loose
  • Runs a slant and has the ball go through his hands – high pass but very catchable
  • Tangled up with the defender – looking for a flag but no penalty
  • Excellent timing on the back shoulder throw down the R SL – extends to make the catch but the ball is too far out of bounds and can’t get both feet down
  • Blocking at the second level and doesn’t look too enthusiastic
  • Extends his arm to beat the press easily and is open on the fly – overthrown
  • Shoved to the SL but fights back to the ball and leaps up and back to the inside to make a terrific catch despite not landing in bounds – draws a flag
  • Open on the slant in the EZ but QB misses him
  • Miscommunication almost leads to a pick – runs a fly and QB throws a back shoulder
  • Not elusive necessarily but certainly athletic enough
  • Nice job shielding the defender from the ball on a hanging pass down the R SL
  • Athletic play to fight back to the ball on a back shoulder pass thrown low and too far inside – can’t come up with the tough catch.

Vs. Duke (’13)

  • Looks like he’s faking a block and is left wide open underneath for a catch and run on a slant
  • Held in the EZ and can’t make the one handed catch – gets demonstrably upset and called for unsportsmanlike conduct
  • Gets run out of bounds easily – not sure he would have been eligible to make the catch
  • Drops a ball on a crossing route over the middle – may have been broken up by the DB
  • Called for a personal foul after taking a swipe at the DB – was held on TE play again but it went uncalled
  • Has to get his emotions under control
  • Open down the seam to the left on a post and makes the catch for a big gain
  • Picks up a block on a run to the R side – RB runs into the defender he is blocking
  • Blocking again at the R SL on a run
  • Strong and aggressive blocker – he will scrap just needs to make sure he will sustain
  • Pancakes his man on a run to the opposite side
  • Explodes out of his stance and flattens a defender on a run block
  • Excellent timing with the QB on a back shoulder throw down the R SL
  • Unable to get open on the underneath route

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft, 2014 Prospect Profile, 2014 Wide Receiver Prospects, Mike Evans, NFL Draft, Prospect Profile, Texas A&M

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