Zach Evans offers the potential to become a No. 1 back.
Zach Evans was considered one of the top running backs in 2019 after the Houston-native ran for 4,867 yards and 76 touchdowns over his final three years in high school. He originally signed a letter of intent with Georgia but then was released from that commitment and eventually became TCU’s first ever five-star recruit.
His two seasons at TCU saw success though not to the astronomic level of high school. He only ran 54 times as a freshman as a part of a four-man rotation for their backfield. In 2021, he assumed a larger role and rolled up four-straight 100-yard games before injuring his toe and missing the rest of the season after just six games.
In 2022, he transferred to Ole Miss, missing TCU’s Cinderella season, and splitting the backfield there with freshman phenom Quinshon Judkins who ran for 1,567 yards and 16 touchdowns on 274 rushes compared to Evans’ 144 runs for 936 yards. The Rebels’ backfield had platooned three average backs in 2021 when Evans decided to join them. Judkins surprised everyone, not the least Evans.
Weight: 202 pounds
40 time: 4.45 seconds
Evans’ chance to become the primary back in a promising backfield was cut short by Judkins’ monster season. Rather than spend his final year as the relief back for Judkins, Evans declared for the NFL draft. Unlike in high school, Evans never again played as the featured back in college, so his ceiling hasn’t been fully explored.
Table: Player NCAA stats (2020-22)
- Smooth and natural runner
- Has the jets to take it to the house when he breaks free
- Elite burst, explosive acceleration
- Speed to get around the corner on sweeps
- Fights for yardage, can absorb hits and keep running
- Prototypical size for running back
- Balance through contact a major plus
- Sets up defenders to miss their tackle
- Agility and power combine to reach second level and beyond
- One of the top pure runners in this rookie class
- Five fumbles on just 290 college carries
- Minimal experience as a receiver
- Lack of creativity when he runs
- Ideally in a zone-heavy scheme
- Pass protection needs further development
Evans is a Day 2 prospect that should be within the first five or six running backs selected. He’s likely to be added to a team searching for rushing talent to add to a committee backfield though he has the potential to become a full-time back, even if his college resume denied him that role. He’s always been an effective rusher but will need to add more work as a receiver to become what the NFL looks for in a full-time or even a primary back.
His college experience wasn’t as great as his high school production suggested and his production was a function of the situations that he found at both of his colleges. The expectations for 2022 with the move to Ole Miss were high but he was eclipsed by the freshman Quinshon Judkins. That leaves Evans with an incomplete look at what he is capable of producing.
Evans timing has worked against him, so he’s harder to evaluate. That could mean that an NFL team gets a steal in the second or third round if he rises to what some believe his potential to be. He enters the NFL inside a deep and competitive running back class this year, so he’ll be somewhat overshadowed from the hype with Bijan Robinson and Jahmyr Gibbs. That will make him a value pick in fantasy drafts.
Where he lands and the situation there always impacts any rookie, and Evans hasn’t been overly lucky with what happened around him in college. But he brings solid potential as a committee back, particularly working with one of reception-heavy backs who need help with relief carries and early down runs. His upside is still notable and while a risk, he could surprise on the right team.