Like most of you reading this article, I know that wide receiver isn’t a pressing need for the Dallas Cowboys. It may not even be a need at all in the draft. I think everyone can agree that the defensive line right now is the biggest hole that needs to be filled on this team via the draft in May. But, there may be a problem with selecting a defensive lineman high in the 2014 draft. After watching and scouting (albeit very early in the process) the defensive line class, I haven’t been overly excited about anyone on the defensive line except for Jadeveon Clowney (who won’t be available at #16/17) and Aaron Donald who I mentioned last week. So for the sake of argument, what happens if Donald isn’t available? Do you then reach on a lesser defensive lineman or select a higher rated offensive lineman or receiver? The question over “best player available” versus “need” will likely come into the equation for the Cowboys come May’s draft.
A few weeks ago, I asked the question, should the Cowboys consider drafting a wide receiver high in this years NFL Draft? And today, we are going to look at wide receiver Mike Evans from Texas A&M as an alternate selection for the Cowboys in the first round. If you haven’t had a chance to check out Mike Evans, I suggest you watch his tape when he faced Alabama and their stout defense:
What piqued my curiosity about Evans were the rumors concerning his forty yard dash time and what he might run at the NFL Combine coming up in the next week. People in his camp believe that he could run in the 4.4s. and if that is in fact true, the Cowboys need to take a long look at Evans.
At 6’5, 225 pounds coming from the SEC where he dominated, he is a physical freak. As a sophomore, Evans racked up 69 catches on nearly 1,400 yards and 12 touchdowns. And here’s an important tidbit that I like about Evans that not a lot of people talk about; his age. At only 20 years old, (will turn 21 in August) Evans dominated at a very young age. I have found that receivers who dominate at the collegiate level at a young age, seem to do well in the NFL. Dez Bryant and Josh Gordon are recent examples of players who performed extremely well at 20 years old and have transitioned well into the NFL.Think about it this way; is it more impressive if a 19 year old puts up elite stats or if a 24 year old does? I believe a wide receiver’s age is a huge factor in determining if a player will bust or not. But that discussion is for another day.
I had an “ah-ha” moment when re-watching Evans this week. When the rumors of him possibility putting on a show in Indianapolis next week started to rise, I wanted to see if he plays at a 4.4 speed. During the season, I would have told you absolutely not. But if you watch closely there are those moments. After reviewing Evans’ play again, I now see that he does in fact, play at faster time than I initially thought.
As you can see, he is running away from players with elite speed. But this also leads me to my next point. Unlike Seattle and other teams going to larger cornerbacks, the NFC East has stayed with smaller defensive backs. Look at the average size of the cornerbacks in the NFC East in 2013:
With an already big lineup for the Cowboys including Dez Bryant (6’2), Jason Witten (6’6) and Terrance Williams (6’2) adding another tall wide receiver would give the Cowboys a considerable advantage in height and red zone efficiency.
Another thought as to why the Cowboys should consider Mike Evans; his size will help in the team’s red zone efficiency. The Cowboys were the third best red zone offense in 2013 and despite an awful defense and inconsistent offense, this helped carry them to be an 8-8 team. It doesn’t sound great, but if the red zone offense were just average instead of elite, the Cowboys would have been lucky to win 6 games. Building on that strength with Evans would ensure that this team would succeed in the red zone.
My final conclusion on Mike Evans is that he has the tools, stats and play-making ability to be a number one wide receiver in the NFL and that should at least intrigue the Cowboys and Jerry Jones. You can do a lot worse in the middle of the first round than Mike Evans.