Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans is a hot commodity. Several teams will be looking for a big target in the 2014 NFL Draft, and he more than fits the bill. The only question is, where will he be drafted?
According to Tony Pauline of Draft Insider, the early front-runners appear to be the Philadelphia Eagles, St. Louis Rams and the Baltimore Ravens. Rams GM Les Snead has been quite coy about the Rams clear need of a big target at wide receiver, while the team signed the often injured Kenny Britt to a one-year deal. As if the presence of Britt-le is supposed to have draft followers stop thinking the Rams will go after Evans.
Clearly a case can be made for the Rams, while we here at Breaking Football have said all off-season we fully expect the Rams to add a wide receiver at some point in the first two rounds. Mike Evans is certainly among the possibilities. But as Pauline suggests, the Rams are definitely not alone when it comes to their interest in Evans. To get a better idea of his draft value, let’s take a look at his top five potential landing spots in May 8th’s draft:
1. St. Louis Rams
The Rams hold the number two overall pick, so they obviously have a great chance of landing Evans if he’s their wide receiver of choice. For one, they could simply decide he’s bigger and brings more to the table than Sammy Watkins. However, if they stay at the two spot I see them taking a stud tackle, not a wide receiver. They’ve been wanting to trade down all off-season, though, so depending on where they drop from #2 overall, they could just watch Evans slide right into their hands.
The Rams rank first in the pursuit for Evans because they also hold the #13 overall pick. They could stand there and grab Evans if the Lions went for a corner, or they could even trade up past Detroit and grab Evans with a new, higher pick. Having two picks in round one gives them major flexibility and makes them the top team to watch.
2. Detroit Lions
I still think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills could surprise us here, but in the end the Lions probably rank second behind the Rams. They did add Golden Tate in free agency, but he isn’t an elite talent and is better suited for the slot. That leaves the door open for a massive target like Evans to come in and take a ton of pressure off of superstar Calvin Johnson. Suddenly the Lions would have two legit jump ball and red-zone targets. While they’re probably the most likely landing spot due to picking 10th overall, there’s also the chance they go after a stud corner here, too.
3. Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore is likely the next team up. Pauline’s mentioning of them probably just confirms it, but there was little doubt they were going to just hang their hat on signing the aging Steve Smith. They have more talent at receiver than they did last year, but their top two receivers rely on speed and don’t have great size. Evans is actually fast enough and has terrific size. He’d give them that big target they missed sorely when Dennis Pitta (hip) missed most of 2013.
4. New York Jets
New York brought in Eric Decker, but they can’t be done at wide receiver just yet. They have nothing else reliable in the passing game, so should absolutely be looking to add a stud receiver or tight end at the 18th overall pick. It’s extremely unlikely Evans makes it past all three of the teams above at this point, but if he does I can’t see Gang Green passing on him. The only way that happens is if stud tight end Eric Ebron is still available. Then again, the Jets also missed out on landing an impact cornerback in free agency and could just go with Justin Gilbert here, instead.
5. Philadelphia Eagles
Philly isn’t the only other team that could/would draft Evans by any means, but with logic in mind, they’re probably where Evans would stop if he somehow slid. Philly also needs safety help and may want to draft another pass rusher for their 3-4, but with the release of DeSean Jackson they know they need another wide receiver. Evans is a game changer that they might even end up trying to trade for. They’re unlikely to land him, though, and may have to settle for a guy like Brandin Cooks or simple go after a different need.
If Evans somehow magically gets past all of these teams (he won’t), the Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers would all be majorly in play to land him. In fact, it’s not crazy to think any of the three (or all three) might show interest in trading up in an effort to land him or another stud receiver.
*Photo credit – Marianne O’Leary via Wiki Commons.