A 10-year drought ends this month, as Mark Evans II will be UAPB’s first athlete drafted into the NFL since Terron Armstead in 2013. But more than that, Evans leads a strong class of HBCU prospects that could see the most players chosen in the last two decades. Armstead came off the board in the third round as the 75th overall selection. Does Evans’ 2023 NFL Draft scouting report boast a similar ceiling?
Mark Evans II NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Offensive lineman
- School: Arkansas-Pine Bluff
- Current Year: Senior
- Height/Weight: 6’2 1/2″, 303 pounds
- Length: 32 3/8″
- Hand Size: 10 3/8″
Evans was an unheralded recruit coming out of C.E. King High School in Houston, Texas. He didn’t begin playing football until middle school due to being over youth weight limits. As a result, he began his sporting career as a boxer — and those light feet and heavy hands would come in handy on the gridiron.
But before Evans could even begin to think about his future collegiate career, he’d have to step into the ring with a devasting opponent: Hurricane Harvey. The destruction left forced Evans and his family to relocate into a single bedroom for the majority of his senior year.
Despite receiving a catastrophic blow, Evans got back on his feet and committed to Navarro College. However, he wouldn’t play a down for the JUCO program, as UAPB came in with a late full-ride scholarship. And as they say, “the rest was history.”
Evans was the starting right tackle at C.E. King but began his time with the Golden Lions as a backup right guard. That wouldn’t last long, as injury forced the Houston native into the starting lineup at left tackle. Fast forward five years, and Evans’ mantle is filled with four first-team All-SWAC honors and a 2022 William Roaf Award as the top lineman in the state of Arkansas.
What’s more, Evans endured three head coach and four offensive line coach changes while at UAPB. But that only fueled the fire that launched him toward a pre-draft process most HBCU prospects don’t get to experience.
The East-West Shrine Bowl, 2023 HBCU Legacy Bowl, and NFL Combine awaited his presence, and he didn’t disappoint. Working with the New England Patriots staff in Las Vegas, Evans showcased his versatility, kicking inside and taking reps at all three interior positions. But where does Evans best fit in the NFL? Let’s dive into his scouting report to find out.
Mark Evans II Scouting Report
Evans’ most recent OL coach, Alex Farah, raved about the star of his unit heading into last season:
“There’s not a whole lot of coaching with him because he’s so talented; he can out-talent his way out of things. That’s the thing that’s been awesome about him — his work ethic. He’s got the talent, the technique, the endurance. He’s always trying to push himself so he can go to the NFL because he’s got a legitimate chance of playing there.”
I agree with all of Farah’s points except the last one. Evans doesn’t just have a legitimate chance of playing in the NFL — he will play in the NFL.
- Strong, deadening hands when fitted inside the opposition’s frame
- Good grip strength to control opponents
- Possesses the mirroring skills to match quicker pass rushers
- Has the footwork and speed to function as a second-level blocker and puller
- Consistent down in and down out — durable frame
- Always looking for work in the pass or run game
- Renowned work ethic and leadership — won’t have to worry about him off the field
- Has the finesse on pass sets that helped him thrive at tackle despite not owning the prototypical build
- Primarily played tackle in college but has the versatility to line up at all five offensive line positions
Areas for Improvement
- Can be more consistent in placing hands, especially in the run game
- Doesn’t have the reactive athleticism to thrive on an island
- Power rushers could dispatch him quickly if they got into his shoulders
- Did not test as an above-average athlete at the Combine (5.44 40-yard dash, 26.5″ vertical, 8’5″ broad)
- Can raise his pad level at the point of attack, sapping his leverage
- Tends to use his body before his hands to initiate contact in the run game
- Prone to sticking to double-team blocks for too long, allowing second-level defenders to knife through
- Routinely beat inside when oversetting against speedier EDGEs
UAPB OL Mark Evans II Current Draft Projection
Versatility is king along the offensive line, and Evans can play all five positions. His length and athletic limitations — although his tape showed a better athlete than his Combine numbers dictate — likely mean a full-time switch to guard or center is inevitable. But that’s not new for Evans, which is why he’s trained on the interior this offseason and why the Patriots put him through drills there.
Yet, his ability to move out to tackle in a pinch is invaluable on game day, as teams typically dress just nine offensive linemen. Evans is a cleaner pass protector than run blocker, which is an uncommon split, but one NFL decision-makers will gladly take. It’s not for lack of desire, either. When Evans plays with proper technique and gets inside his man, he’s driving into the dirt — he was a part of Denny’s All-Pancaker Team for a reason.
MORE: 2023 NFL Draft Big Board
Evans is currently working with renowned OL trainer Duke Manyweather, and Armstead is serving as his mentor through the lead-up to the draft. That’s quite the support system helping him prepare for the biggest moment of his football career. All told, Evans should hear his name called in the early-to-mid Day 3 range.
Will he be the first HBCU player selected? We won’t know until later this month, but what we do know is that Evans clearly has the ability to suit up on Sundays. It’s not a matter of if but a matter of where.
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