Wide receiver Shaquelle Evans began his career at Notre Dame where he played a small amount as a true freshman before transferring and finishing at UCLA. Evans has been a consistently productive player the past two seasons in Westwood, but was never a star and it seems like he was underutilized based on his ability, but he did have 9 touchdowns in his senior year.
Going to the NFL, Evans is a remarkably polished looking receiver. He has a lot of physical talent, but he stands out because of how smooth he plays the position. From his stance to running routes to making plays after the catch, he looks natural. There are a few small issues to clean up, but for the most part, Evans looks like he just needs to catch up to the speed of the NFL and then it is a question of how far his physical talent allows him to go. Evans warrants a top 100 pick, but the depth of the position could make him a tremendous value on day three of the draft as someone who could step in and contribute as a rookie.
Vitals & Build
Evans measured in at 6’ ¾” 211lbs with pretty long arms. He looks terrific for the position with a strong build and big shoulders. Evans has good feet and seems to play faster than he will likely time on a track. He is quick with good body control for the position as well. Evans looks NFL ready as he is probably pretty close to being maxed out in terms of his weight, looking to maximize what he already has.
Route Running & Technique
Evans is a technician at the position. He has a great stance that allows him to explode forward with his arms up ready to take on contact. Not only is he able to fire off of the ball with a great first step and explode off of the ball, but he has shown he can take a quick drop step and shake an opponent trying to press him. A small thing he can work to improve upon is using his hands to fight off contact and cut down his angle to get into his route but this is picking nits considering where he is in terms of his release. He is quick and makes it difficult for opponents to get their hands on him.
Occasionally, Evans will just go straight at the opponent and knock them down right off of the snap, forcing them to keep that in mind as they try to anticipate what he is going to do next. Evans has done this on several occasions and it seems to give him one more small edge on the opponent. It also shows that he is playing the man as opposed to playing the route.
In terms of route running, Evans has a great understanding of where he wants to go and how to get there efficiently. He transfers weight well in and out of breaks, so he can be efficient and clean, allowing him to get in and out quickly. Evans trusts in his leg power and I able to get strength out of his cuts to get himself open and create space.
He really excels in man coverage and seems to appreciate how to set up opponents and get open for his quarterback to get him the football. Against zone, it seems like Evans needs to do a better job when it comes to settling in open space. This should get better with more experience and reps.
Evans has run an extensive route tree that should translate to the pros. He has run a number of comebacks, crosses, and go routes. There are some bubble screens mixed in as well. With more time and experience, Evans should only get better but he really does a nice job in his efficiency of movement and does not waste time or steps.
Evans has pretty good hands for the most part, but will have an occasional drop. They seem to be a case of trying to run before he has secured the ball, taking his eye off of it. That needs to be cleaned up, but Evans has shown a pretty good catch radius. He is able to adjust on the ball effectively and make some nice, hands catches.
Evans needs to eliminate the times when he lets the ball into his body and continue to increase the number of catches he snatches out of the air with his hands. Eliminating the small amount of drops he has in his game and just being more comfortable and aggressive with his hands will go a long way in making him a more dangerous threat.
Run After Catch
Evans is a dangerous player after the catch and it remains to be seen just how well he times in workouts, but he plays fast. One of the areas where Evans is showing some nice glimpses is when he is catching comeback passes or hitches that ask him to stop and catch the ball.
Evans is starting to work on get his feet positioned to make the next move before he catches the ball, so when he has secured it, he can make a man miss immediately or begin gaining yardage. That can be a cause for some of the concentration drops, but when he does it right, it makes him look much smooth and dangerous. Evans does not waste much time and looks to gain yardage as quickly as possible, taking advantage of his strength to gain extra yards.
Evans is an effective blocker and gives a good effort. He does a nice job using angles to help him, getting control of the opponent and working them to a point where they take themselves out of the play or he can simply push them out of the play.
Evans works to get himself in position to set up running plays to help create yards down the field. He also does a nice job of flipping the switch and becoming a blocker when a teammate catches the ball and works to help them create more yardage down the field.
Evans does have experience as a punt returner, but this is not an area where he has really shined. He can do the job, but he has not shown any special ability to do it.
Ultimately, Evans is set up to play in any scheme because he is such a polished, professional looking player. He might be more suited to play in a vertical based offense because he can sell going deep and working back to the football, but he does a nice job on timing routes as well.
Evans has a chance to come in and make an instant impact for a team, because he has good understanding of technique and how to play the position. The question for Evans will be how long it takes for him to adjust to the speed of the pro game. Given what he has shown, it would be more surprising if he did not contribute as a rookie than if he did.
In some ways, his game is similar to that of Pierre Garçon of the Washington Redskins. Evans may not have the speed Garçon did coming out, but Garçon was a highly regarded blocker and route runner, who came out of Mount Union in Division-III, so he ended up being a sixth round pick. Both have had some drops in their careers, but both players are strong, detail oriented receivers who know how to do their jobs. Garçon actually played slower than his timed speed though, so it may even out in the end.
Shaq Evans has a good amount of physical talent combined with a great deal of polish. He understands how to play the position, seems to really be pushing to perfect his craft and will work to help his team. From running routes to catching the football to blocking, Evans does many of the little things that it takes to be a good player for a long time. Evans warrants going in the top 100 picks but could be a steal on day three with the potential to contribute immediately and a great opportunity to be a more productive NFL player than he was in college.
Some of the film used for this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com