2,064 All-Purpose Yards
1,480 Rushing Yards
What the Bills Need:
This past season, the Bills established a top tier rushing offense and will most likely continue this type of ground and pound style into next season. With that being said, speed is a crucial issue in the team’s run game. Last year, their longest carry of the regular season was a 41-yard run by 36-year-old Frank Gore, which tied the Bengals at 23rd in the league. We all know Singletary is the primary back who can handle 20 plus carries a game, but the Bills are lacking a change of pace speed back who can help out in the receiving game as well as beat players to the edge. Darrynton Evans out of Appalachian State could be a solid option for the Bills to add some speed and elusiveness later in the draft.
Evans was used as the lead back in Appalachian State’s heavy run offense. He averaged 21 touches a game and 5.8 yards a carry. He’s a one-cut style running back who excelled in his team’s zone-blocking offense. A lot of his big plays came from outside zone runs where he can use his speed and agility to make defenders miss and pick up big yardage. He was relied on in the passing game too. He is a former wide receiver turned running back, so he brings versatility in this sense. He was also a solid kick returner throughout his career and could add special teams value.
Agility and Vision:
Evans’ vision when running on the outside is great. He knows when to make cuts and sees the field well. His one-cut style is complemented by his ability to let blocks develop on the edge. His patience allows him to see the field better and then slice through gaps. He utilizes a jump cut technique to weave in and out of holes. This really shows off his agility and lateral quickness.
Smaller backs typically struggle when running between the tackles; with Evans, it’s one of his strong points. He has the vision to dip in and out of small holes and find the open lanes to extend plays.
He was critical in goal-line situations during his college career. He showed the strength to move piles and has the vision to find the small holes in this part of the field. He was able to punch the ball in and find the open gap to score.
Speed and Contact Balance:
While watching his tape, I saw Evans’ speed jump off the screen. He has shown that he has breakaway speed and can take any play to the house. After making a cut, he sticks his foot in the ground and bursts upfield with good acceleration. He can split safeties in the second level and finish long plays.
As for his contact balance, he doesn’t absorb hits as well as I would like. He embraces contact and rarely gets driven back, but he doesn’t roll off defenders and fall forward as consistently as needed.
Receiving and Pass Protection:
Evans can also add some value to the Bills receiving game. He was originally recruited as a wide receiver, so he has experience running routes and catching balls. Throughout his college career, he was split out in empty sets, caught balls out of the backfield, and was utilized in screens. He has the ability to take receptions for big yardage and has good enough receiving fundamentals.
His pass protection is a weak point of his game. It’s not so much he lacks the strength to pass protect, but his technique is sloppy. He tends to lunge at players with his shoulder or throw his body in the way instead of squaring up defenders.
It’s always a good idea to add speed to an offense and especially to the running back group. The combination of Gore and Singletary this past season worked well but lacked some big playmaking ability. Grabbing next-level speed and elusiveness is key during this offseason because it can add another dangerous element to the offense. After studying Evans’ tape, it’s clear he can be a solid change of pace speed back for any team in the league. The combination of him and Singletary would be a solid mix of elusiveness, vision, and speed.