The Raiders Should Draft Mike Evans
Byron Lambert, RosterWatch.com
Matt Schaub, MJD, Darren McFadden, Mike Evans, James Jones, Denarius Moore, and Mychal Rivera would have the potential to be a salty offensive lineup. One with potential to be the second best offensive unit in a division predicated on scoring.
Evans is neck-and-neck with Sammy Watkins as the top rookie receiver prospect, and he’s a better fit in Oakland’s offense. He’s more NFL-ready, and has the red-zone prowess to be a big contributor right away. We’d prefer to see Watkins land in a more functional offense.
We would have no issue with the selection, and would actually be thrilled for Raiders fans if Reggie McKenzie selected Evans. He has elite skills, and elite NFL size. He played against the best competition in the country at A&M, in the SEC- and he destroyed it.
See Alabama- a team universally considered the best in the SEC, with the most NFL-like defense, and the most NFL-like defensive coach. Mike Evans put 279 yards and a touchdown on them in September. He averaged 40 yards per catch. Even if you remove his 95-yard reception from that game as an outlier, he still averaged 30 yards a reception.
See Auburn- a team that narrowly lost the national championship. Mike Evans racked up 287 yards and four touchdowns against them in October. These are the type of statistics that are so egregious they cannot be ignored even as much as we hate “stat scouting.” Even if you discount them for a multitude of factors, they are still impressive against the some of the best competition in the country.
The original knock on Evans was that he was a one-trick pony. A stiff vertical threat. Now, the knock is that he can’t separate. Some are worried he’ll turn out like mammoth former USC receiver Mike Williams. Many compare him to Vincent Jackson- which is a respectable comparison in itself. Having closely scouted Evans on multiple occasions, we can tell you he can run routes and the numbers don’t lie in his case. Some of the gaudy yard/catch numbers referenced above are for real. Evans runs very well for a big man, especially down the field- where he shows plenty of ability to separate downfield on film, time and time again. And, whenever he doesn’t he consistently out-positions and out jumps defenders to high-point the ball away from his body.
Our biggest takeaway from scouting Evans live, is how fluid, how effortless, and just how natural everything looks for him.
Evans’ catch radius is off the charts. He doesn’t break a sweat making sick catch after sick catch. He’s not as stiff as Vincent Jackson, and he’s not as lumbering as Mike Williams. He’s explosive, and possesses lateral agility cultivated through years of competitive basketball. Evans has serious run-after-the-catch ability that he doesn’t get enough credit for. He’s also the best red-zone target in the draft, an absolute monster.
Let’s face it, Reggie needs the Matt Schaub signing to look good. He faced a lot of scrutiny for that one, after the pitiful season Schaub had in Houston – and the desperate need for a quarterback of the future and face of the franchise. Drafting Mike Evans would help Matt Schaub more than any other player in this draft possibly could.
Evans is also the type of player who can immediately contribute in a way that even the casual fan can recognize. Which of course, Reggie will get all the credit for – and he could use some of that about now.
Some will argue that the positional depth at receiver in this draft will bump Evans down the Raiders board. We say that should bump Watkins down too, then. We say they don’t need a project number-two or three guy that might have upside to be a number one. They need someone who walks in immediately with high-caliber, number-one potential. Which is exactly what Mike Evans is.