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Rams’ 6th round selection of RB Zach Evans praised as ‘draft steal’

Evans was the number two running back recruit in the nation in 2020

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 TaxAct Texas Bowl Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ole Miss running back Zach Evans could have easily heard his name called in the third round without any draft analyst batting an eye. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler had Evans as his 10th-ranked running back in the class with a third to fourth round grade and a slim margin between him and say, Tyjae Spears, the 81st overall pick. But the Los Angeles Rams got Evans with the 215th overall pick and traded up by a full round to go get him once he slid that far.

There’s a non-zero chance that Evans could be competing with Cam Akers to start for the Rams at running back in 2023.

Luca Sartirana of Mike Farrell Sports praised Evans as one of the top steals of day three:

Evans may have some character concerns, but he’s another former 5-star recruit who’s a fantastic talent overall. A ball carrier with the traits to carry the load and the explosiveness and long speed to turn every touch into a big play. Evans will have to compete with Cam Akers and Kyren Williams, but he’s got all the talent in the world in order to carve out a prominent role sooner rather than later. Potentially a massive steal.

Evans rushed for 936 yards on 144 carries at Ole Miss last season after transferring from TCU. He averaged 6.5 yards per carry and scored nine touchdowns. He also caught 12 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. Evans has the largest hands and wingspan of any running back in the class, as well.

He probably was disappointed in his 1.57 10-yard split and 4.50 40-yard dash at 202 lbs.

One of the most elite running back recruits in the nation three years ago, only Bijan Robinson was ranked higher on boards that year. But he had an odd streak of delaying his signing announcement, a series of team suspensions in high school, and eventually committed to TCU after he previously could have chosen any program in the country. Evans averaged 7.3 yards per carry at TCU but only had 146 attempts over two years and missed considerable time with injury prior to transferring to Ole Miss.

Zach Evans is a true boom-or-bust selection but with the caveat that you can’t really be a bust if you’re a sixth round pick. He seemingly had the talent coming out of high school to be a first round pick and yet his sixth round selection is no surprise given that he has a history of injuries, character concerns, didn’t post great times in the 40-yard dash or 10-yard split so he seems to be an average athlete, and he only had 290 carries in college over three seasons and transferring schools in the middle of it.

But Evans could be more intriguing than Kyren Williams and the only person standing in between them and starting was nearly traded from the team in the middle of the 2022 season.