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Film Room: Chris Evans has the talent to make an immediate impact

Evans is an intriguing player with an equally intriguing background.

Penn State v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

New Cincinnati Bengals’ running back Chris Evans has been getting a lot of buzz since the team selected him in the sixth round of this year’s NFL draft.

He has an impressive skill set and started his career at Michigan strong. In his first season in Ann Arbor, he ran the ball 88 times for 614 yards. That’s an average of seven yards per carry.

Over the next two seasons, he had 216 more carries for 1,107 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also played a larger role in the passing game with 34 receptions for 305 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Evans was supposed to finish his college career in 2019 as a senior, but was kicked off the team after being accused of plagiarism. He could’ve decided to call it quits, but worked himself back into school and onto the team the following year. Unfortunately, his 2020 went about as well as everybody else’s, and he was not able to re-establish himself as a top prospect.

Evans had a great pro day, which proves that he’s still got it athletically. Let’s take a look at the film and see what Evans brings to Cincinnati.

Bengals running back Joe Mixon is known for his patience, reading the blocks in front of him and finding the hole. Evans has a very different style. He is a true one-cut, downhill runner. This could make him a very interesting change-of-pace back in Cincinnati.

On this power play, he hits the hole and cuts right off of the pulling guard. This cut was a relatively minor adjustment, but all he needed to break into the open. Evans’ momentum kept him moving forward. He shows great speed as he outruns the pursuit for a touchdown.

In this clip, Evans is forced to make a much bigger cut, but the result is the same.

Again Michigan runs Power with the backside guard pulling and the full back looking to kick out. This time movement on the defensive front muddies the waters for Evans and his blockers.

He slips through a tiny gap and is met by a linebacker shortly after crossing the line of scrimmage. Evans breaks this attempted tackle, but with more defenders closing in, he cuts back... way back.

The defense pursues, but it is no use. Evans leans away from the pursuit, shaking off an attempted shoelace tackle and leaving the rest of the defense in the dust.

Of course, the modern NFL is all about the passing game and that truth extends to the running back position.

Fortunately, Evans is an excellent pass catcher out of the backfield.

In this clip, he runs a wheel route in the red zone. The ball is thrown behind him, but he makes a great adjustment and hauls it in.

This is a great play and results in a touchdown for the Wolverines.

His propensity to get up field pays off in the pass game as well.

Take this screen for example. He makes the cuts he needs to make while running full speed towards the end zone. Knocked out of bounds prior to crossing the goal line, Evans didn’t get the score here, but this was still a huge play that got his offense out of a deep hole and into scoring position.

The departure of Giovani Bernard creates an opportunity for another back to play a large role alongside Mixon. Evans could be an interesting complement to Mixon and this offense. Don’t be surprised if he pushes for time this fall.