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Tyler Badie & Akayleb Evans make their case at the NFL Combine

Badie & Evans hope their strong performances at the NFL Combine will help boost their NFL Draft stock.

NFL: Scouting Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri’s representatives at the NFL Combine impressed both with their on-field work and also their ability to keep the media entertained at their respective press conferences. Both running back Tyler Badie and Akayleb Evans helped their respective NFL Draft stock with strong performances in Indianapolis.

Let’s take a deep dive into how Badie and Evans performed in Indianapolis, and what it could mean for their draft status.

Tyler Badie:

NFL: Scouting Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Badie’s NFL Combine performance was, more or less, what you would expect. He’s undersized, he’s crazy fast and he has impressive explosion. Anyone who watched Badie consistently throughout his career at Mizzou could have told you that.

That said, his height and weight are going to bring up some questions in the draft process. Much like early in his career at Mizzou, draft evaluators are going to question if a 5-foot-8 running back who weighs less than 200 pounds can carry the load. The only running backs in the last decade who measured in at the NFL Combine under 5-foot-9 and 200 pounds who ended up selected within the first four rounds are LaMichael James, Ronnie Hillman, Nyheim Hines, Bryce Love and Kendall Hunter. Badie is hoping to become the next.

Badie should be able to point to Hines’ success as a pro as reason to believe he’s more than worthy of drafting in the top 120 picks.Hines enjoyed similar success under Eli Drinkwitz at NC State to what Badie produced this season at Mizzou.

What they’re saying:

  • Lance Zierlein of Undersized, change-of-pace back with a big heart and pass-catching talent. Despite a lack of desired size, Badie took on a monster workload and produced at a high level. He played in a run scheme heavily tilted to outside zone and is at his best in space, although he’s natural and confident in tight run lanes. He’s a tough runner but lacks short-yardage leg drive, so his role as a pro could be fairly well-defined as a talented third-down back who can handle an occasional spike in carries if needed.
  • The Draft Network: He is known as a dynamic space player that excels with the football in his hands. He is electric with incredible burst and speed to take it the distance. 2021 was his first season as a bell cow or workhorse running back and he did not disappoint. Ideal Role: Complementary/secondary back, change of pace. Scheme Fit: Stretch zone rushing attack, pistol formations.

Akayleb Evans:

NFL: Scouting Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Evans had a strange season in his lone year with the Tigers. He didn’t technically “start” the first game of the season, and he ultimately decided to “opt out” before the bowl game. His play in-between, though, was smooth and steady. Evans has plenty of college tape both in press and zone coverage. His size and speed combination is something NFL teams covet in the secondary. And now he’s added a fantastic NFL Combine performance, to boot.

Evans measured in at 6-foot-2 and nearly 200 pounds. That’s remarkable size for a cornerback. Add in an official 40-time of under 4.5 seconds at that size and length, and you’re going to see NFL teams lining up to draft such a toolsy cornerback once the draft gets to day 3 (rounds 4-7).

What they’re saying:

  • Lance Zierlein of “Evans should profile as a height, weight, speed prospect for teams employing multiple zone coverages. He lacks the footwork and short-area agility to maintain man coverage against NFL receivers. Evans has the strength for release redirection and can use his length to swarm the catch from a side shuffle or short zone setting. The measurables are appealing but his injury history must be part of his evaluation as well.”
  • Kyle Crabbs of The Draft Network: Evans is going to check the boxes for NFL defenses looking for length and physicality on the perimeter. This is a player who came to Missouri in 2021 after a successful career with the Tulsa program—and the jump to SEC competition provided a bit better context as far as where Evans currently wins and loses and just how big of a jump he’s going to face in his transition to the pro level. Physically, he’s an imposing player who offers a good series of punishing strikes as a tackler and ample length to disrupt route releases when he’s implemented in press coverage. But Evans’ instincts in coverage, his tendency to get too physical down the field, and his irregular results as a tackler are going to temper expectations for him early on and will likely result in him being coveted in the middle rounds as more of a developmental player.