Watching the Alabama vs Texas A&M game this year, it’d be easy to write off Mike Evans’ performance as a one off.
But when he keeps doing it — eventually, you just need to accept he is that good.
We’ll hear a lot about Evans’ proposed lack of deep speed, his limited athletic qualities.
It’s getting to the point where I just don’t care. If you draft a 6-5, 225lbs receiver you shouldn’t expect him to be lightning quick. As long as he isn’t a complete slouch, you can live with it.
What he keeps consistently putting on tape is everything you want from a guy his size. He is the perfect receiver for Johnny Manziel. And in many ways he could be the perfect receiver for Russell Wilson.
Manziel runs around like his hair’s on fire. He gets out of the pocket, he buys time. He improvises. And while Wilson is more about controlled chaos, they do share the ability to extend plays when everything seems lost.
Evans is adept at coming back to the quarterback. Some receivers just get it. When the initial call breaks down, it’s scramble drill time. And consistently Evans works his way back to Manziel to make a key grab. He finds a way to get open and provide an outlet.
His jump-ball ability is as good as it gets. Time and time again Manziel just tosses it up there giving him the chance to make a play. And he does. It’s men against boys out there. He goes up, high points the football and makes the big catches.
Evans plays every game like he’s pissed off. His interviews are notoriously curt and to the point. He has a spark to his game, a competitive edge. You want to see that.
And while he isn’t Calvin Johnson and won’t be running a 4.35 — there’s enough tape of him running away from defensive backs to at least feel comfortable with that part of his game.
Danny Kelly at Field Gulls wrote an interesting piece recently about Seattle’s emphasis in training camp on ‘dominating the red line’. Read the article for the details.
Doesn’t it look like Evans fits perfectly with that concept?
In the Auburn game (see above) he had eleven catches for 287 yards and four touchdowns.
Touchdown #1 — yards after the catch on an inside slant
Touchdown #2 — quick hit to the sideline, runs away from everyone for a 65-yard score
Touchdown #3 — more YAC and a nice leap into the end zone to finish the play
Touchdown #4 — another big downfield play in tight single coverage
It’s hard to find fault within his game when you look at the 2013 tape.
Seattle has some big decisions to make in the off-season. Golden Tate is a free agent, Doug Baldwin is a RFA. They’ve already spent big money on Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice’s contract will make for a lengthy debate.
If they keep Tate and Baldwin but lose Rice, it’s still going to be tough to get everyone their touches for the financial outlay.
For that reason, a first round receiver might struggle to have an early impact.
Yet there’s just something so appealing about Wilson having a guy like Evans to throw to. Someone to really put the icing on the cake for that positional group. The explosive playmaking quality of Harvin and Tate. The consistency and edge of Baldwin. And then the height, catch radius and red zone benefit of Evans.
The word ‘unstoppable’ suddenly springs to mind.
Imagine seeing Wilson scrambling around but having Evans as that safety net — coming back to the quarterback. Imagine having him in the red zone, having him running that sideline.
And imagine a defensive coordinator trying to work out who to double cover between Evans’ reach and ability to high point the ball, and Harvin’s pure game-changing physical quality.
Drafting him in round one would be a luxury and it’s unlikely Evans will last deep into the first round (unless he really clocks a slow time at the combine).
But if you’re looking for the next big physical freak of nature who comes into the league and just churns out production — Evans could easily be that guy.