Regardless of any stance on whether the Eagles are seriously considering parting ways with wide receiver DeSean Jackson, they certainly are not being shy about bringing in some of the elite offensive prospects that the upcoming NFL Draft has to offer. The latest player to show up on the team’s list of visitors is sure to raise a few eyebrows.
Not sure if this is old news, but it’s news to me, and interesting. Eagles are bringing in WR Mike Evans for a visit http://t.co/S3MQA50WTg
— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) March 16, 2014
Chase Goodbread of NFL.com released the initial report, linking the former Aggie to both the Eagles (slotted to pick 22nd overall) and the Detroit Lions (15th overall). Depending on the source, Mike Evans is generally considered one of the top two wide receiver targets in the draft, with Clemson’s Sammy Watkins garnering most of the top consideration.
Evans had a breakout season in 2013 as Johnny Manziel‘s primary downfield target for Texas A&M. As a redshirt sophomore, Evans hauled in 69 receptions for 1,394 yards (over 20 yards a catch). He also led the SEC in receiving touchdowns with 12, a mark that was also 10th most in all of college football. He was thrust onto the national scene in the Aggies home loss to then top-ranked Alabama, a game that saw Evans catch seven passes for an astounding 279 yards and a touchdown. He rounded out A&M’s tour of the Alabama schools with an equally impressive performance against Auburn. In that contest, Evans caught 11 balls for 287 yards and FOUR touchdowns. He was held out of the endzone for the final four games of the season, but Evans’ performance against the best the SEC had to offer was more than enough to solidify his draft status. Especially considering he turned in a superb first season with Texas A&M (82 rec, 1105 yds, 5 TD), Evans is far from a flash in the pan.
Perhaps more impressive than his production at the collegiate level is Evans’ physique and athleticism. He has the size and build of a tight end like Jimmy Graham and the speed and explosiveness to go along with it. At the NFL combine, Evans measured just south of 6’5″, 230 pounds, and arms reaching beyond 35 inches. From a measurables standpoint, Evans was in at least the 95th percentile of all wide receivers at the combine. The Texas native was able to reinforce his salivating frame with a relatively impressive showing in the timed drills at the combine. Evans ran an official 4.53 40-yard dash, plenty fast for a player of his size and style of play. He did not grade out as well in some of the agility-based drills, but if you look at the spider graph, courtesy of Mockdraftable.com, Evans balance puts any doubts of whether he is a first round player to bed.
Although the Eagles offense appears that it might not adhere to the traditional view of a ‘number one’ receiver, Evans would ultimately be groomed to be quarterback Nick Foles’ primary target. It is extremely unlikely that the 20-year old would last until the 22nd pick, so Philadelphia would have to make a move to leapfrog several teams if they wanted to bring in Evans.
Even though the team has spent the better part of their offseason to this point focusing on the offensive side of the ball, to think that Chip Kelly wouldn’t lunge at the chance to add Evans into the fold would be a tremendous oversight. Some people tend to forget that Kelly is an offensive mind and he was brought in and payed quite generously to revolutionize the offensive game at the NFL level. After a largely successful first year, wanting to add onto a potent attack has to be expected. Along with Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin, Evans is an ideal ‘Big Person’ that Kelly would undoubtedly work wonders with in the confines of the Eagles attack. The longer the team refuses to take a definitive stance on the future of DeSean Jackson, the more speculation for moves like this will occur.