Our NFL rookie profile series continues with this analysis of 2023 NFL Draft Prospect Zach Evans, RB from Ole Miss. We will continue to provide you with these in-depth rookie profiles and a ton of other fantasy football rookie analysis right up through the NFL Draft. Stay tuned, and stay ahead of your league.
This 2023 running back class is deep and sprinkled with varied talent. At the top of the list is the well-known and consensus RB1 of this class, Bijan Robinson. From there, the list varies, with most analysts anointing Jahmyr Gibbs as the RB2. Then it becomes a little more mix and match to taste, though it seems to have stabilized some as we approach the NFL Draft.
A back who belongs in the upper range of that list of talent is Zach Evans from Ole Miss. Let’s jump right into some analysis and see how he stacks up.
Evans was a five-star recruit out of Houston, Texas after accumulating nearly 5,000 yards and 76 touchdowns during high school. He committed to TCU and spent two seasons playing for the Horned Frogs.
Stats courtesy of Sports Reference.
He accrued 1,063 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns over his two seasons with TCU. He averaged over seven yards per carry over his 146 rush attempts during that span.
Following his sophomore season, Evans transferred to Ole Miss and the SEC for his junior season. Despite competing with freshman Quinshon Judkins, he managed 936 rushing yards (sixth-most in the SEC) and ten total touchdowns for the Rebels. Even with the higher carry count, Evans still produced 6.5 yards per attempt.
He finished with four games of over 100 rushing yards, including a 17-carry, 207 rushing yards, and one touchdown effort against the Arkansas Razorbacks in week ten.
The most notable drawback to Evans on the stat sheet and to watching him play is his lack of pass-catching. Through three college seasons, he only caught 30 passes for 325 yards and two scores.
We will start with the aforementioned games versus the Razorbacks. These clips showcase his talent as a runner and some of the tools in his toolbox.
At the 22-second mark, we see Evans shed a tackle close to the line of scrimmage and accelerate through the second level. He makes a quick side step to add additional yards before stepping out of bounds.
At 1:19, he explodes through the gap, turns on the boosters, and races untouched for 48 yards and a score.
Throughout this game, Evans shed would-be tacklers, displayed quick lateral agility, and showcased the burst that makes him a big-play threat with a bit of space. He finished that game with a gaudy 12.2 yards per carry average.
In our next film room exhibit, we will check a few clips from Ole Miss vs Georgia Tech.
At the 20-second mark, we see Evans take one up the gut, break a tackle, and fight for extra yardage while being brought down. On the following play, he bullies it in for the score, legs churning forward through contact the entire time.
At the 1:21 mark, he breaks a long run after explosively hitting the hole, keeps his eyes upfield, and laterally shifts away from contact, again gaining extra yards.
My favorite run in this game is at 1:57 when he sees his gap close, cuts back the other way, puts enough space between him and the closest defender to ward him off with a hand, and sprints in for the score.
Courtesy of NFL.com.
Evans did not run at the Scouting Combine. However, he has the prototypical size for an NFL running back paired with the burst that makes him a home run threat. He also has the willingness to battle through contact and always appears eager to grind for extra yardage.
He possesses enough quick acceleration to bounce to the outside or explode through a well-blocked gap. Has lateral agility and processes quickly enough when in motion to utilize this trait. Evans also shows very well with contact balance which serves to enhance these other traits.
Courtesy of DLF.
Evans squeaks into the first round of rookie drafts as the 1.12 overall. This places him as RB5 behind Bijan Robinson, Jahmyr Gibbs, Zach Charbonnet, and Devon Achane in the most recent ADP.
While his talents as a runner definitely belong among these other prospects, it is primarily his lack of prowess in the receiving game that suppresses his ADP. Evans ran for more yards than Gibbs and only Charbonnet finished with a higher yards-per-carry average. The one thing missing is receptions.
In startup ADP, Evans is RB46, 138th overall. Landing spot and draft capital could play a role in minimal movement in one direction or the other once beyond the draft. Wherever he lands, it is nearly a forgone conclusion that Evans will be part of a committee. Dynasty managers should be aware of that and value him in that spectrum of shared opportunity and slightly diminished production, especially in PPR formats.
- 2023 Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Prospect: Cedric Tillman, WR from Tennessee - April 16, 2023
- 2023 Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookie Prospect: Zach Evans, RB Ole Miss - March 30, 2023
- John Hesterman: Dynasty Fantasy Football Rankings Explained - March 24, 2023