Zach Evans, RB
- Averaged an impressive 6.5 yards per carry against top competition in the SEC.
- Great open field speed that allows him to break long runs and “hit the home run”.
- Speed forces defenses to spread out. He is able to turn the corner for chunk plays.
- Terrific contact balance makes him a tough tackle. This also allows him to catch himself from falling to pick up extra yards.
- Able to run through leg tackles or glancing blows.
- A very smooth runner. He glides around the field with a rare, natural feel.
- Generates surprising power for his size. There were multiple instances of Evans running over DBs
- Has been banged up recently. Nothing serious, but lower body attrition can be a red flag.
- Weight combined with nagging injuries is not ideal.
- Can miss blitz pickups mentally and physically.
- Probably will not win many “car wrecks” at the next level, as he generates solid pop, but lacks size to move the pile or overpower NFL LBs.
- Not exactly a “cut and go” runner. He can turn the corner, but he does not have that “plant and accelerate” ability.
- Did not show enough receiving talent to be considered a dual purpose back. He flashed some hands, but should work on becoming a better receiver.
Evans is an exciting complementary piece to any NFL running back rotation. His speed in the open field means that he can score from anywhere on the field, and his ability to break tackles will help mitigate TFLs and negative plays. Since Evans weighed in about 10 pounds lighter than the average NFL running back, he will not be expected to attack defenses with A-gap runs and massive collisions. This is fine in my book. He showed enough explosiveness and contact power to win at the point of attack, and he should be able to hold his own in most one-on-one situations. NFL coaching staff should focus on sharpening his footwork and receiving skills, but otherwise, Evans is a very solid prospect.
I would expect Zach Evans to be responsible for 30 to 40% of his teams carries as a rookie. Early in his career, most of his touches should attack outside the tackles with a few B-gap runs mixed in. Getting his speed and fluidity on the boundary is the way to unlock his ceiling as a player, and that should be the goal of any offensive coordinator with Evans as a weapon.
It’s always tough to project where RBs will land in the draft, but I predict that Evans will be a fourth round pick. The Houston Texans used their fourth last pick last year on a physical runner in Dameon Pierce, and they could look to add a complementary back to the room again this year. Using Evans to attack the edge of the defense would force box defenders to spread out, helping Houston to attack the middle of the field.