2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Michigan RB Chris Evans

Brian Lamb
Brian Lamb is the owner of NFL Draft Lounge and has covered the NFL Draft since 2011. Brian is also the owner of the Infinity Sports Network, which NFL Draft Lounge belongs to.

Chris Evans, the running back from Michigan, isn’t a high-profile NFL Draft prospect, but as we’ll detail in this scouting report, he has traits that NFL franchises might target in a later round. Unlike top prospects, such as Travis Etienne and Najee Harris, Evans doesn’t have a high number of carries.

In this scouting report, we’ll examine Chris Evans’ background and look at where he came from prior to becoming a 2021 NFL Draft prospect. Next, we’ll turn on the game film and breakdown Evans’ skillset as an NFL running back. Finally, our team will highlight the pros and cons from his scouting report.

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Background

Chris Evans was a three-star all-purpose back according to ESPN and Rivals. However, he was a consensus top ten back out of the state of Indiana. Furthermore, 247 Sports had Evans listed as the ninth overall all-purpose back in the country.

Prior to committing to the University of Michigan, Evans had offers from Ohio State, Michigan State, and Cincinnati. In February of 2016, Chris Evans signed his letter of intent to enroll at Michigan, and in June of the same year, he officially enrolled.

During his freshman season in 2016, Chris Evans appeared in 13 games for the Wolverines. Evans finished with 614 yards on 88 rushing attempts, including four touchdowns. More importantly, Evans finished with an impressive 7.0 yards per carry average.

In 2017, Evans experienced his most productive season throughout his collegiate career. He finished with 685 yards on 135 attempts, along with 6 touchdowns. However, Evans also displayed his ability as a slot receiver with 157 receiving yards on 16 catches.

During his Junior campaign in 2018, Evans saw his workload decreased. Nonetheless, he still finished with 423 rushing yards on 81 attempts and four touchdowns. Additionally, he caught 18 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown.

Chris Evans was suspended for ‘academic reasons’ for the entire 2019 season. Rather than declare for the 2020 NFL Draft, Evans committed to returning to Michigan for the 2020 College Football Season.

In a shortened season, Evans finished with 73 rushing yards on 16 attempts, along with one touchdown.

 

What I Like About Chris Evans

As we’ve explained on the previous page, Chris Evans has had an up-and-down career at the University of Michigan. Below, we’ll show off three clips that best highlight what Evans does well as a running back. For the first clip, we head to Columbus for the 2018 game against Ohio State.

 

Pass Catching Ability

This is a common route run out of the backfield. Chris Evans works upfield and creates a decent amount of space off the line of scrimmage. Once Evans makes his cut inside, the quarterback has the ball in Evans’ hands. He displays a nice ability to catch in traffic, followed by a tremendous ability to remain upright long enough to reach the endzone. All in all, this is a great effort from a runningback that primarily works between the tackles.

 

Change of Direction and Vision

It’s rare that we see this type of run from Chris Evans. Typically, Evans works best after wearing down the defenders deep into games. However, once he is able to elude the first defender on the outside, followed up by a solid block from the right guard, Evans has plenty of space to work with. His change of direction and vision are two traits that make this play what it is. This is what I like to call a ‘Sunday Effort’.

 

Route Running and Acceleration

As I mentioned on the previous page, Chris Evans has had plenty of opportunities to show off his ability downfield, too. On this play, he runs a simple drag route across the field. Evans gets the ball right out of his break. Evans reads the field quickly, and once he determines that he has an open field in front of him, he turns on the jets and explodes for the first down.

 

What I Dislike About Chris Evans

As with all of our scouting reports, we like to include clips that not only spotlight what an NFL Draft prospect does well, but also areas in which they must improve upon. Below, I’ve once again included three clips from Chris Evans’ collegiate career.

 

Pass Blocking

I’ve watched this play multiple times, as well as from multiple angles. For the life of me, I can’t figure out what’s going on. From a pass blocking standpoint, all Chris Evans had to do was slow down the rusher. Instead, Evans fails to lay a finger on the linebacker, which nearly gets his quarterback killed.

 

Quick Processing and Decision Making

In this game against Wisconsin, the defense nearly blows this play up from the start. The defense penetrates the left side of the offensive line, which just happens to be the side of the field that Chris Evans is headed. Now while this play happens quickly, Evans does have the opportunity to bounce this play inside. Instead, the result of this down is a loss of yardage.

 

Lack of Burst and Acceleration Out of the Backfield

This is the last clip that I’ve included in this scouting report, but I think it’s the one that best summarizes Evans’ career at Michigan. On this play against Western Michigan, the Wolverines are unable to establish leverage to create space for the running back. While there is little room for Chris Evans to work with, the fullback does create some space for Evans. At the very least, this play could have resulted in three or four yards. Instead, it’s a loss of a yard due to his lack of burst through the trenches.

 

Chris Evans NFL Draft Scouting Report

 

Pros
  • Pass Catching Ability
  • Success Through Narrow Running Lanes
  • Contact Balance

 

Cons
  • Lack of Burst and Acceleration
  • Can Be Too Patient At Times
  • Pass Blocking Technique

 

The Verdict

As we’ve detailed in this scouting report, Chris Evans had a very ‘up and down’ career for the Michigan Wolverines. Despite a lack of consistent production throughout his collegiate career, Evans possesses the traits and mechanics that NFL evaluators seek.

While Evans likely won’t hear his name called until the third day of the 2021 NFL Draft, he could develop into a solid backup running back or slot receiver. It’s likely to take a few years for Evans to develop, but if he’s able to improve his mechanics, he might find his way into a consistent role.

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