With the 115th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected Shaquelle Evans, wide receiver out of UCLA.
Shaquelle Evans was an extremely productive wide out in college, and it did not go unnoticed. Evans led the team in receiving yards for each of the past two seasons. Shaq also received All Pac-12 Honorable Mentions for the past two years, and just by looking at his stats you can tell he earned it.
An important thing to keep in mind about these statistics is that 5 of his 9 touchdowns (which as a whole tied for 30th in all the FBS) in 2013 came from outside of the redzone. This means that Shaquelle Evans is essentially a threat to score whenever the ball is in opponent territory, which can cause nightmares for opposing defenses.
Shaq has slightly above average size for a wide receiver, measuring in at 6’1″ and 213 pounds. The former Bruin’s size compares to that of Stevie Johnson in the NFL, although Evans is significantly faster. Shaquelle Evans ran a 4.51 40 time, which is just average for a wide out. Evans finished in the middle of the pack in almost all other categories at the combine.
However, when UCLA’s Pro Day came around Shaquelle Evans stepped up. He managed to boost his 40 time up to 4.32, and performed exceptionally well in all the receiver drills. This increased his draft stock significantly, and the Jets were lucky he was still there at the 115th pick based off his Pro Day.
Probably one of Shaquelle Evans’ most important and impressive skills is his exceptional hands. During the past two seasons, we saw Shaq make some incredible catches for the Bruins, often times while being heavily contested. Evans can make the catch in traffic which makes him extremely reliable in short yardage situations.
On a different note, his overall potential for the New York Jets is not the best it could be. If there was one word to describe his performance, it would be average.
As previously stated, Shaquelle Evans had an extremely average combine. He finished with an average 40 time, an average bench press, an average vertical, etc. Shaq also measured in at an average height and weight for a wide receiver.
Some of the skill sets he displayed at UCLA and at the Combine are also average. His route running is- you guessed it- average. Although Shaq can occasionally burn defenders and create wide open space for himself, but for the most part he only creates very little separation. Although this is better than no separation, with an inconsistent quarterback like Geno Smith the former Bruin will need to be as open as possible.
Also, Evans’ speed on the field is sub-par at best. Shaquelle Evans will rarely be able to be a vertical threat, and his inability to stretch defenses takes away an element from his game (Fortunately, the Jets also drafted Jalen Saunders who can serve as a deep threat).
Fortunately, what Shaquelle Evans lacks in speed he makes up for in acceleration. Despite having just the 22nd fastest 40 time for all wide receivers at the combine, he tied for first in his 10-yard split (1.47 seconds). This helps immensely when breaking off the line of scrimmage and beating press coverage, along with an extra burst out of his cuts.
Shaquelle Evans is also a threat in the open field, with nifty moves to evade defenders and extend the play. This helped the Bruins gain several crucial 1st downs throughout the season, and it would sometimes be the reason for a long touchdown.
Finally, the one thing that will not show up on any stat sheet is the amount of effort that Evans puts in to each and every play. After watching almost every UCLA game for the past couple of years, I have never seen a wide receiver with as much hustle and determination as Shaq.
Considering the New York Jets were able to nab Shaquelle Evans in the mid-4th round, this pick should be considered a steal. Although it is unlikely that he is the Week 1 starter, don’t be surprised to hear his name several times throughout the season.