After loading up on trench players and a kicker, the Cincinnati Bengals went with an offensive skill player for the first time since Round 1, selecting Michigan’s Chris Evans in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
No, this is not the Chris Evans who makes blockbuster movies with Robert Downey Jr. and Sebastian Stan, and I’m not even sure if he “understood that reference.”
This Chris Evans is a versatile running back who showed patience and power as a ball-carrier for the Wolverines.
What Evans Brings to the Bengals
Despite spending five years at Michigan, Evans should come to Cincinnati with fresh legs. He only carried the ball 16 times last season and missed all of 2019 with an academic suspension.
Prior to that, Evans played well for the Wolverines. Originally a slot receiver, Evans converted to running back in 2016. He has natural movement and ability as a receiver, and those skills seemed to translate well as a ball carrier. He ran for over 1,700 yards and 14 touchdowns in his first three seasons in Ann Arbor. He also had close to 400 yards receiving in that same time frame.
Why the Bengals pick Evans
With Giovani Bernard moving on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Bengals were looking to add some competition to the depth behind running back Joe Mixon.
Samaje Perine looked impressive last season as both a runner and a pass protector and will likely win the job as the No. 2 back. But Evans has all-around ability and is known for being proficient in pass protection.
The true competition will be between Evans, 2019 sixth-round pick Trayveon Williams, and former XFL running back Jacques Patrick.
These are players who add depth to the Bengals offense and should contribute on special teams. Mixon will be the workhorse for this offense in 2021, particularly with Bernard combing his mustache 900 miles away.