Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mike Evans: a Future All-Pro Wide Receiver?

    Mike Evans, not Sammy Watkins, should be the first receiver picked in the upcoming NFL draft.  Watkins is a great talent, but I believe Evans is even better.  Sammy has excellent speed, 4.43 secs for the 40 yard dash, which is very good indeed but not necessarily a record.  Some people were predicting Watkins would be in the 4.3 range or even 4.2.   He also turned out to be 6'1", rather than 6'2" as he had been listed in college. 

Evans is a beast, with the size and strength to rip the ball away from defenders and then knock people over on his way downfield.  At 6'5 and 231 lbs, I like Evans better than the more famous Watkins.  Watkins is 4 inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter but is a full 0.1 seconds faster in the 40 yard dash. 
Mike is not slow either, at 4.53 seconds for the 40.  But what sets him apart is his size.  He is 6'5" and 231 pounds.   He picked up 1322 yards on 65 catches (over 20 yards per reception) with 12 TDs in 12 games, playing in the SEC Conference.. Although overshadowed by media sensation Johnny (Football) Manziel, he was a legit All-American talent. 
    Watkins also piled up great stats at Clemson in the ACC, getting the same number of TDs, with 142 more yards in one more game than Evans.  Watkins yards per reception average was 14.2 versus 20.3 for Evans. 
    To me it is better to average 20.3 yards per reception in the SEC than 14.2 yards per reception in the ACC. 
     Moreover, Evans was only a sophomore last year, and is still improving rapidly.  It seems to me that he has a much higher ceiling than Watkins, who is the more polished of the two.  Watkins can play anywhere, but I think the smaller faster guy might be especially suited for a dome team or southern team, whereas Evans size and strength might be appealing to a cold weather natural turf team like the Browns. 

    But it is going to be hard to pass up a guy who is as big and fast as Evans.  I believe he will be first receiver taken, rather than Watkins.  Watkins, though enormously talented, is probably not really a top five pick as many sportswriters have suggested.  I think his combine performance suggests he is not quite as superhuman as previously believed, and so he might get picked around tenth.   Evans is so talented he might get picked around fifth. 
   I think the Browns might be  looking for prospective All Pros on defense; namely Khalil Mack or Jadeveon Clowney.  But if those guys are not available the next logical suspects are stud left tackles Greg Robinson or , Jake Mathews.  Because that is the same position currently occupied by All Pro Joe Thomas, someone would have to shift to the right side.  If the Browns would rather not do that, then Evans might be a legitimate possibility.  Alternatively they might trade down or go for their favorite quarterback (Jimmy Garappolo?  Derek Carr?  I don't believe it is Manziel, Bortles or Bridgewater, the consensus Big Three this year).  


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