It’s considered too early to uncover who the hidden gems of the 2023 NFL draft class will be. However, one NFL executive gave a ringing endorsement for one of the late finds the Los Angeles Rams made.
Speaking with Heavy NFL senior reporter Matt Lombardo on Wednesday, May 3, one AFC personnel executive has a bold prediction for the 215th selection of the draft.
“Look out for Zach Evans. He has tons of talent, and wasn’t overused in college. Character issues pushed him down some boards, but that won’t matter in the NFL,” the executive said, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Lombardo Also an Evans Fan, & Predicted to Add Needed Help in Backfield
Add Lombardo as one who is a believer in the Ole Miss Rebel who also had a stop with Texas Christian.
“Evans, the Los Angeles Rams‘ sixth-round pick, has the potential to add significant value to a backfield that’s headlined by an injury-prone Cam Akers with only former fifth-round pick Kyren Williams standing in the Ole Miss alum’s way of emerging as Akers’ top handcuff,” Lombardo said.
The Rams entered the draft needing to address their backfield. While Akers has battled injuries, he also briefly made a disappearance from the Rams’ facility over personal issues and ended up missing the 24-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers. Akers, though, reignited toward the end of the season and, following three straight 100-yard games to close out 2022, has re-cemented his case as the team’s RB1 heading into 2023.
Meanwhile, the battle for RB2 inside the “Rams House” will become an underrated scrutinized battle in L.A. While Williams is entering his second season in this offense, so is fellow 2022 rookie Ronnie Rivers — who saw some brief action in the backfield in the absence of Akers. Lombardo, though, believes the much taller 6-foot, 216-pound Evans comes with two skill sets that make him one of the best backs of this draft class.
“With some of the best vision and burst in this class, Evans averaged 6.9 yards per carry and has the frame and skill set to eventually be a three-down workhorse,” Lombardo wrote. “In 2022, Evans rushed for 930 yards with 9 touchdowns, while also flashing loads of versatility as a pass-rusher out of the backfield, averaging 0.94 yards per route run, according to Pro Football Focus.
What Else Can Evans Bring Inside the ‘Rams House?’
So an executive and Lombardo are believers in Evans, even after his fall to the sixth round. But how does Evans’ new head coach Sean McVay see his new running back?
McVay told reporters after the draft that “there’s certain exceptions when you feel like, alright, Zach Evans is a back that has some special traits and so then you go up,” which explained the need to trade up to grab him. McVay the dove how Evans would fit alongside the other Ram backs.
“I think he has a nice skillset that complements Cam, complements Kyren Williams, Ronnie Rivers is a guy that got a little bit of action as well. And so I think you’re always still looking at complementary skillsets, whether that’s in a receiver, tight end, running back room. And that was kind of the appealing thing about Zach,” McVay said.
Evans, meanwhile, told the L.A. media how much it meant for him to become someone worth trading up for.
“It means a lot, man. I mean, it shows how much they believed in me,” Evans said post draft. “I’m ready to get to work. I’m ready to give the team everything I’ve got. I’m ready to showcase my talents. I’m just real thankful to be here, real grateful.”