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Zach Evans was considered a borderline first rounder last summer

The Athletics’ Dane Brugler revisited his draft rankings from this time last year

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TaxAct Texas Bowl - Texas Tech v Ole Miss Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Rams may have found quite the steal in the sixth round of the 2023 NFL Draft in Ole Miss’ Zach Evans. The running back was selected with the 215th overall pick, but just last summer The Athletics’ Dane Brugler had Evans ranked as his 31st overall prospect:

31. Zach Evans, RB, Ole Miss

Final ranking: No. 115 (Pre-Draft)

Where he was drafted: No. 215 (Los Angeles Rams)

Evans’ ability has never been the question when projecting his football future. Going back to high school, however, there were reliability issues that created a hectic recruiting process. After two productive yet inconsistent seasons at TCU, he transferred to Ole Miss for 2022, which gave him a fresh start and a chance to change his narrative. NFL scouts remained more skeptical than optimistic on him throughout the draft process.

As Brugler mentioned, on-field talent has never been the concern with Evans. Even dating back to high school, Evans got into a disagreement with coaches regarding using his cell phone in team meetings and was dismissed from the state title game. This reportedly was the second time he was suspended in the same season.

When he was at TCU, he seemed to wear on the coaching staff. There were disagreements surrounding his usage. After a game where he had 15 carries, coaches told reporters that Evans indicated he was “tired” and couldn’t take on his usual workload.

Evans played his final season at Ole Miss in 2022 and impressed with 144 carries for 936 yards and nine touchdowns in 12 total games (eight starts), though this production wasn’t enough to quell concerns regarding his character and off-field question marks.

Training camp will give an early indication as to what sort of role Evans will have with the Rams in 2023. Cam Akers seems inked in atop the depth chart and primed for a feature role. But the NFL is trending towards backfields by committee and injuries are commonplace for the position. At some point LA will likely need to turn toward second-year back Kyren Williams, Evans, or former UDFA Ronnie Rivers.

Can Evans separate himself amongst the crowd? His draft pedigree and on-field talent could give him a leg up if he’s able to address the off-field concerns and buy into the “we not me” team culture.

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