This is an update of an article I wrote over a month ago. I include combine, more tape analysis, and Evan's Pro Day.
If you are reading this article, take a deep breath, and think Basketball. Why? Because Mike Evans plays football like a basketball player. Mike majored in basketball at Galveston Ball High School, and is relatively new to football. Oh yeah, Evans caught 25 receptions for 648 yards and 7 TDs as a High School senior, and averaged 18.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game, his senior basketball year. He often plays pickup games with Johnny Manziel! They are the Dwyane Wade and Lebron James of College Station rec centers. Enough backstory for now.
I watched a bunch of tape from 2012 and 2013. I specifically paid attention to Evan's stat weak games, such as the Missouri game Where Evans caught just 4 catches for 8 yards. Yet, Evans wasn't anemic as you might think against Missouri. What did I see?
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Height: 6-5. Weight: 231
40 Time: 4. 47...Vertical leap 37 inches
Mike is a big WR. He has the frame to add another 8 pounds, topping off at 239 lbs. Mike is very strong, and doesn't fold under press coverage. ( Can't wait to see Sherman on Mike Evans). Mike Evans has a 37 inch vertical leap. Mike likes to use his hands to block and ward off defenders on routes. Let's move to the tape. Let's start with Mikes shittiest game. And I watched the entire game. Every offensive snap. Texas A&M vs Missouri.
The Setting- By the end of the season, opposing defenses were playing safeties and cornerbacks deep against A&M. Why? To stop big plays, and force long multi play drives. Another thing. Johnny Football had an injured thumb on his throwing hand for the last 3-4 games of the regular season. The last thing you must know is, A&M ran the ball a lot against Missouri, and A&M had 4 other receivers who can catch the ball well. Anyway, Evans didn't drop any passes. Evans was overthrown on a bomb that would have been a TD. All 4 of the passes Evans caught were very short, and he was swarmed immediately. Think Seahawks vs Denver
Let's get down to the Nitti Gritty. Evans is the best blocking wide receiver I have ever seen at the college level! I never saw Evan's man make tackle on the running back or Manziel! Evans blocks out cornerbacks like a basketball player. Evan's pushes off with his extremely long arms, and screens the defender off with his wide body. It's not vicious. Contraire, Evans displays extreme court awareness. Evans will glace quickly over his shoulder at the running back, so that he can place his body in perfect blocking position. Very impressive blocker. And God knows the Rams could use receivers with downfield blocking skills.
Evans doesn't know the entire NFL route tree. Yet, all phases of Evan's game improved between 2012 and 2013. In 2013 Evans only dropped 4.29% of balls thrown his direction. Compare that to Marquis Lee's 12.31%. Ouch!
Mike Evans is very good at coming back to the QB and catching the ball at it's highest point. With a 39 inch leap tacked on to his 6'5" body, Evans will come back towards the QB and screen out the defender, with his large frame and jump ball! Evans gets open like a basketball player too. Evans cuts well for a big guy, and often lulls the defender to sleep. Like a small forward, he will suddenly cut, and turn of the speed and burn the defender for a lay up.
Evans is at his best, on extended plays, once the initial route is run! His basketball skills serve him well past the 3 second mark. Evans has a knack for finding the open spots in a zone. Again his basketball court awareness serves him well. Especially with a scrambling QB like Johnny Manziel. We don't want the 49'ers or the Seahawks to draft this guy!
Evans likes to use his hands to push off, or punch the defender. He's got a mean streak. If a defender tries to put his hands on Evans, Mike will slap the defender's hands away. Evans was more physical than any defender he faced at the college level. I think Evans will get some pushing off penalties called on him at the next level, but he will also draw a bunch of fouls ( defensive pass interference) penalties. Because he will bait defenders into crawling over his back, the way he screens them out with his body.
Speed- Evans ran a 4.47 40 time! He leaps 38 inches vertically. Evan's has long legs and so he looks slower than 4.60. Yet I didn't see many defenders catch Evans, once he was off to the races. Evans can out run faster 40 guys after the 25 yard mark. 30 yards downfield Mike Evans is still speeding up. He's got gliding speed. And so quick cornerbacks often find themselves chasing Evans's on long passes. Watch Evan's vs Alabama
Route Tree - Evans is a relative football newbie, and so his route tree is limited. James Lofton is training Evans. Evans runs solid post and corner patterns. Solid go patterns. He could work a little on the fade pattern. I noticed improvement in his sideline awareness from 2012-2013. I'm sure Evans is practicing his tip toe drill with James Lofton. His curl and comeback patterns are very good. Slants could use some work. Evans can cut well, but he rounds off many of his patterns. Update- Evans demonstrated on his proday, that he's capable of running the entire NFL Route Tree, and his cuts were sharper.
Yards before and after the Catch- Evans averaged a whopping 20.3 yards a catch in 2013. His best games were against Alabama (279 yards) and Auburn (287 yards) and 4 TD's. I know! Right? Mike averaged 7.63 yards after catching the ball in 2013! Mike's a big boy and he can break tackles! I repeat he can break tackles! He can also leap. Watch this 8 second video!
And the Alabama game, 3 min video- Watch for Mike out leaping Ha Ha Clinton Dix . Notice Mike's gliding speed, Jump ball skill, on field awareness, and his knack for coming back to the QB. Evan's is always a threat over the top!
Pros- 6'5" 231 size, Fantastic Blocker, Low drop rate, Field Awareness- finds open spot on extended plays, catches ball with hands, Catches ball at highest point, Smart, Very physical, uses entire body to screen of defender, cut's like a basketball player, hard to tackle, very difficult to press cover, sneaky, hates losing, team player and he averaged over 20 yards a catch. Although a project, Mike improves quickly. Mike Evans is only 21 years old!
Cons- Will get some pushing off penalties, occasional unsportsman like conduct penalties, rounds off routes, will have to adapt to two feet in bounds.
Project Mike is a bit of a project. He just needs to learn the rest of the route tree and make sharper cuts. I know project leaves a bad taste in Rams fans mouths. Mike is already better than Quick, Pettis, and Givens. And Mike has a high trajectory. Mike learns fast. . ( remember Mike dropped only 4% in 2013).
Pro Day, Les Snead got to watch Evans up close and personal. Mike Evans helped Johnny Manziel have the best Pro Day, of any QB in the draft. If you watched game tape of Evans or his Pro Day, you know Evans is a deep threat! The Manziel to Evans combination drew many owwhhh's and ahhhh's as well as applause. from a crowd including President George Bush.