NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt has confirmed what most expected about Texas A&M star quarterback Johnny Manziel and the Aggies' star wide receiver, Mike Evans: That both will play their final college game Tuesday in the Chick-fil-A Bowl and will declare early eligibility for the 2014 NFL Draft.
Manziel and Evans were the spark for one of the nation's most prolific offenses the last two seasons, particularly in 2013, when Manziel threw for 3,732 yards and Evans caught 65 passes for 1,322 yards and 12 touchdowns. Both third-year sophomores, Manziel and Evans figure to be two of the top draft prospects at their respective positions.
The first real inkling that the Aggies' dynamic passing combination would combine to leave four years of college eligibility behind came from wide receiver Malcome Kennedy, who spoke of their impact on the program in the past tense after a Nov. 11 win over Mississippi State, the team's last home game at Kyle Field.
Along with being one of the nation's top passers, Manziel (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) rushed for more than 2,000 yards over two seasons with the Aggies, and will bring an exciting element of athleticism to the NFL. Manziel commented Monday about his improvement as a passer and the importance of "picking his battles" as a rusher, in order to stay healthy and minimize the physical punishment he takes from defenders. That will be as much a key to his development as an NFL quarterback as anything.
Like Manziel, Evans brings a unique quality for NFL clubs in need of a receiver with his size, using his 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame to beat defensive backs in traffic, in the red zone, and for jump balls. Evans possesses excellent speed, but not great initial quickness off the line of scrimmage. That and his potential to add more weight also make him a possibility for a slot tight end role, similar to the New Orleans Saints' Jimmy Graham, one NFL scout told College Football 24/7 earlier this year.