INDIANAPOLIS — The deep and talented group of receivers in the 2014 NFL draft offer a variety of sizes, skills and personalities.
The scouting combine can measure heights, weights, arm lengths and speed, and the game tape can show what the players can do on the field. But it's tough to hear how the receivers handle themselves on the field in the heat of the action.
Texas A&M WR Mike Evans ran a fast 40-yard dash at the combine and put up big numbers for the Aggies with his great leaping skills, long arms and ability to high-point passes.
But his eyes lit up Saturday when he was asked about another weapon in his arsenal: his mouth.
“On the field? I don’t know if y’all notice. But I talk way more on the field than I do to the media," said Evans, who was laconic in his meeting with the media. "I seem like a quiet guy maybe to the media, but on the field — I talk a little noise.”
Evans says he wants any edge he can get on the field, and if that means jawing with a defensive back to achieve that, so be it.
"Yes, definitely," Evans said. "DBs are always trying to get in my head, so I counter it, talk a little noise to them. [I'll] do anything I can to have an advantage on the field."
And does it work?
"Yeah, plenty of times," Evans said with a smile.
The St. Louis Rams, who have two picks in the top 13, are one of several teams in the top half of the first round who could use a receivers. Could you imagine the 6-foot-5 Evans going up against 6-3 Seattle Seahawks corner — and noted wordsmith — Richard Sherman in a battle of strength and trash talk twice per season? It would be some must-watch Sound FX material.
“Aw man, I’m a big Richard Sherman fan," Evans said. "That would be a fun matchup — I’m gonna go at him.”
USC's Marqise Lee agrees on the chatter front but believes that his mouth tends to start heating up when his game does.
"That's something we all do," he said, laughing. "That's what it is: talking and making plays. They go together. The more plays you make, the more you talk. If you're quiet out there, that's when it might not be going so [well]. That's when you gotta worry."
But can he try to kick-start things by running his mouth a little?
"Yeah, sometimes," Lee said. "A few times I have gotten myself going out there by talking a little. It revs you up sometimes."
Still, Clemson's Sammy Watkins, who is roundly rated as the top receiver in the class, prefers a different approach: cold-blooded silence.
"My job is to dominate the defender. It's [not] your place to do that [talking]," Watkins said. "Defenders feel you more that way. You just look them in the eye once you make a play and keep going.
"For me, it's intimidation. You don't have to say anything as long as you do your job."
Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said he believes this is the deepest draft he's seen in 30 years, and Colbert singled out the receiver position as being among the best. Evans, Lee and Watkins — NFL Network's Mike Mayock rates them as his top three wideouts — very well could land in the top 20 picks with their varying football skills.
But it's also fascinating to hear their takes on talking. Different players, different approaches.
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