2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Virginia Tech QB Jerod Evans

From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

#4 Jerod Evans / QB / Virginia Tech: 6’3”, 230lbs

The Good:

– Extremely athletic and possesses big-play running ability
– Good Deep Accuracy
– Prototypical Physical Size
– Stands tall against pressure if necessary
– Great swagger/confidence and chemistry with teammates

The Bad:

– Limited Experience: Only played 14 games in his collegiate career
– Minimal exposure to pro-style passing schemes
– Was quick to leave the pocket at times, (not always a bad thing, since he regularly picked up positive yards; however, he could have let plays develop a little longer sometimes. This is a slightly nit-picky criticism.)
– Limited downfield passing opportunities at Virginia Tech (ran lots of RPOs, quick slants, etc. Deep passes generally came off of play action.)
– Ran a fairly slow 40-yard dash (4.80s); however, he played at a much faster speed in-game
– Inconsistent accuracy on shorter throws. However, this problem was seemly caused (at least in part) by hurrying his passes. This is a flaw that can be corrected naturally as he gains more experience, (experience will allow him to relax and slow down a little bit).

Bio:

– Career Passing: 14 Starts (10 wins, 4 losses), 63.5% completion rate, 3,552 yards (253.7 avg.), 29 TD 8 INT, 153.1 passer rating
– Career Rushing: 204 carries, 846 yards (4.1 avg.), 12 TD
– Trinity Valley Community College Stats: 8 games, 3,164 yards (395.5 avg.) 38 TD 3 INT

Film Breakdown:

It’s difficult to watch Jerod Evans’ film without being reminded of Cam Newton. Like Newton, Evans is a confident, dual threat quarterback with a strong arm and tremendous athleticism (especially for his size), who also excelled at a junior college before transferring up to the FBS. Although Cam was both bigger and faster coming out of college (Cam: 6’5” 245lbs w/4.59 40-yard dash; Evans: 6’3” 230lbs w/4.80 40-yard), both players have very similar styles, skillsets, throwing motions, and demonstrated comparable toughness within the pocket.

Additionally, also reminiscent of when Newton was going through the Draft process, there are legitimate questions about whether Evans can adapt and succeed within a professional offensive system. He has only appeared in 14 career games and played within a very limited spread-option offense at Virginia Tech, so his NFL future will undoubtedly be determined by whether he can continue to learn and grow once he is in the league.

This first clip is just one example of the resemblance between Newton and Evans. Notice the similar throwing motions, rhythm within the pocket and how both players tend to generate power by putting their entire bodies behind their throws:

In this next play against Eastern Carolina, Evans showcases his dynamic running ability, as well as his potential to score from anywhere on the field. It should also be noted that this was not a designed run, but instead was a product of Evans’ instinctual feel for the game and knack for escaping pressure in the pocket. No further explanation is need on this spectacular 55-yard touchdown run:

A subtle aspect of Evans’ game was his unflinching demeanor in the pocket and his willingness to take a hit if necessary. Although he possesses the ability to run and pick up yardage with his feet, he was never afraid to stand tall against a heavy incoming rush and beat a defense through the air. For example, in this play against Syracuse, despite getting drilled as he releases the ball, he shows great toughness by stepping into his throw and makes an accurate pass to get a first down. Evans’ courage in the face of pressure will surely benefit him at the next level:

One of the biggest questions about Evans’ ability to succeed in the NFL relate to his limited experience. While he was generally a very good decision-maker and took care of the football, he occasionally had negative plays that can be attributed to his on-field immaturity. For example, in this clip against Syracuse, rather than throwing the ball away or attempting to salvage the play with his feet, Evans forces a throw (off his back foot), into double-coverage in the red zone, resulting in a costly interception. It is likely that he will encounter some growing pains in the NFL while he gradually accumulates more playing time:

In this final clip against Clemson, Evans again throws an interception that I think can also be largely attributed to inexperience. It’s difficult to tell whether he is trying to throw the ball away or if he is tossing a jump-ball to his receiver, but either way it’s a bad decision. If he intended to throw it away, the ball has to be launched far out of bounds. Alternatively, if he intended to simply throw a jump-ball, this was a poor decision and a bad risk, given that it was only 2nd down and Virginia Tech was still in a competitive game. Although I don’t think plays like this are overly concerning when projecting his long-term future, they nevertheless indicate that there are some uncertainties regarding how his style will translate to the NFL:

Overall, Jerod Evans is an intriguing prospect who I think would be a quality selection if the Steelers feel compelled to take a quarterback in the later rounds of the Draft. To be clear, he obviously is not the same caliber player (and had nowhere near the same amount of production) as Cam Newton coming out of college; however, he did show flashes of a comparable skillset that could hint at a very high NFL-ceiling. As a result, although Evans has a lot of room to improve and will require time to learn the professional game from the sidelines, his combination physical tools and high upside could make him a great Day 3 sleeper.

Projection: Day 3

Games Watched: vs Boston College, at Notre Dame, vs Clemson, vs Tennessee, vs Eastern Carolina, at Syracuse

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe AwuzieDeShone KizerMarlon MackCameron SuttonZach Cunningham
Corey DavisCarl LawsonPatrick MahomesKareem HuntEvan Engram
Derek RiversRyan AndersonJoshua DobbsJordan LeggettSamaje Perine
Corn ElderBucky HodgesJames ConnerCooper KuppStanley Williams
Fred RossJamaal WilliamsGeorge KittleEjuan PriceChris Wormley
Jeremy McNicholsJoe MathisDerek BarnettAmba Etta-TawoGareon Conley
Taco Charlton Elijah McGuireRyan SwitzerTanoh KpassagnonTre’Davious White
Brian HillMatthew DayesDonnel PumphreyJosh ReynoldsNazair Jones
De’Veon SmithDavis WebbObi MelifonwuTJ WattJohn Ross

About the Author

Sean McKaveney

Sean McKaveney is currently a student at the UCLA School of Law and was formerly the starting Quarterback and Team Captain for Claremont McKenna College, a Top 10 Liberal Arts school in Los Angeles. Although he grew up in Southern California, Sean was raised as a diehard Steelers fan by his father, a Pittsburgh native. The Steelers are undefeated in games that Sean has attended.

  • unfurious

    This is one of my favorite QBs in the draft. While he does have limited experience, I saw many traits that are often missing,even from 1st rounders. I saw him go through progressions. He reads the field. I feel he has really good touch on his throws. He makes the back shoulder throw and quick slants with confidence. When he lets it go downfield, he seems to place it where his guy has the advantage. Sometimes he runs but sometimes he just escapes and keeps his eyes downfield. He is not an instant starter but I don’t think any QB should be. I really like what he showed in his limited experience.

  • mokhkw

    I think Evans pocket poise will serve him well as he learns to become a NFL QB. The other issues are correctable with coaching & experience and if he goes to a team which has some patience to develop him, he could become a quality starter, maybe even a franchise QB.

    When a guy who clocks 4.8 in the 40 has so many rushing yards that tells you he sees the field very well considering his inexperience. Lots of upside for Evans who I’ve had as my 5th Rd selection for the Steelers since January, I don’t think he improved his stock at the Combine but maybe he does at his Pro Day. Hoping we can get him in the 5th come draft day.

  • mokhkw

    I was pleasantly surprised watching film of his throws, he has a good understanding of ball placement & touch on the deep ball, I think he can make all the throws a NFL QB has to with some more experience. I think he does a lot of the things a QB finds difficult to do already and while he’s not ready to play in 2017, by 2018 he would at least be ready to be a backup imo.

  • Spencer Krick

    I dig his athleticism and his willingness to finish plays in the face of pressure. I’d be happy having him fight otherberger for the number 3 spot.

  • unfurious

    I suspect that he’ll go higher. He has great measurables and he has enough on tape that someone will pick him up in rd3 even if it’s just because the want a backup with potential. QBs will always get over drafted until teams learn not to break them.

  • Thomas

    He has some traits that are good, but he should have done a lot more with people like Ford and Hodges in his offense. 5th or 6th round pick that has potential to beat out LJ for QB#2 but not enough to be a starting QB in the league.