The WR class of 2014 is absolutely loaded. There are players of every size, shape and skill set imaginable. Teams have the ability to figure out what exactly they want in a receiver. Teams looking for big receivers will have a couple of very interesting players to go after.
Mike Evans of Texas A&M and Kelvin Benjamin of Florida State are the big names among big receivers. Both are Redshirt Sophomores. Both players need a lot of work. They dominated in college, but that was mostly due to size. That won’t be enough for the NFL.
I like Evans more. A lot more. He’s not just a giant WR. Evans shows the potential to be a complete player. He had a good workout at the Combine and you can see good athleticism when you watch him play. In the Ole Miss game he jumped over a DB. That’s tough for a huge WR to do.
Evans does need a lot of work. Texas A&M had him line up outside to the right most, if not all, of the time. He ran a limited set of routes. NFL teams will need to work on his route running and will have to see if he’s comfortable moving around the formation.
But Evans does flash big time potential. He has good body control for such a big guy. He made a few spectacular sideline grabs this year. He has good, not great, hands, but occasionally he will make a really impressive catch.
Evans racked up plenty of RAC yards and I think he can do that in the NFL. He wasn’t just overpowering defenders in space. Evans showed good speed and some elusiveness with the ball in his hands.
His size does allow him to be physically dominant at times. Evans will fight through physical coverage and just manhandle some DBs. He is strong enough to put some on the ground. More impressively, Evans is able to play through contact. He can have a DB draped on him and still make a tough catch. Evans doesn’t have to be open to be open. That skill will serve him well at the next level.
One of my concerns with Evans is his emotional make-up. He can be too fiery at times and that can affect his play. He needs to grow out of that. There are going to be some tough games in the NFL. You must be able to get through those, mentally and emotionally.
I think Evans deserves to be a Top 15 pick. I can see him becoming a stud receiver in the NFL.
By the numbers
arm – 35 1/8
hand – 9 5/8
40 – 4.53
VJ – 37
3C – 7.08
SS – 4.26
82-1105-5 in 2012
65-1322-12 in 2013
* * *
I am not nearly as high on Kelvin Benjamin, the RS Soph from Florida State. Benjamin is even bigger, going 6-5, 240. He does not carry that size nearly as well. Evans looks like a giant WR. Benjamin looks like a LB playing receiver.
Benjamin did post huge numbers this year, but his tape just didn’t impress me. He caught a lot of intermediate crossing passes and then turned them into long plays when defenders weren’t able to tackle him in space. This worked great and FSU scored a lot of points.
But that doesn’t carry over to the NFL. Being a 240-pound receiver is still rare in the NFL, but you aren’t going to overpower defenders the same way. Guys will get you down. Take away those long runs and Benjamin is a very different player.
He’s got a hitch on his release and that happens over and over. That one simple move gives DBs an extra fraction of a second to adjust to him and stay close as he runs his route. Benjamin rarely gets separation on his own. He isn’t a good route runner and lacks the agility or quickness to create space between him and the DB.
Drops were an issue in several of the games I watched. Benjamin did make some impressive catches as well, but the drops were bad ones. The ball hit him in the hands and he simply dropped it.
I think Benjamin could be a good role player in the NFL, but I don’t see him as a starter. I would not take him until the middle rounds.
By the numbers
arm – 34 7/8
hand – 10 1/4
40 – 4.61
VJ – 32.5
3C – 7.33
SS – 4.39
54-1011-15 in 2013
* * *
To put it simply…Evans is faster, more agile, more explosive and has better hands. That’s the guy I want of the two. I think he can be an NFL star. I think Benjamin is going to be more of a role player. There is value in that, but not 1st round value.