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NFL 2022 'Out of Nowhere' Breakout Team: Bengals running back highlights five ready to surprise

These players aren't normal breakout candidates, but they could stun this season




Chris Evans, Bengals

Evans has the backstory tailor-made for the Out Of Nowhere Breakout Team. The No. 9 all-purpose back in the 2016 recruiting class, ahead of backs like Josh Jacobs, Evans averaged a seismic 7.0 yards per carry as a freshman at Michigan on 88 attempts but never quite reached his perceived potential over the course of his career, and he missed the entire 2019 campaign due to academic issues that led to a full-year suspension. 


The talent is undeniable with Evans. Check his combine workout, it's first-round caliber, with 90-plus percentile broad and vertical jumps and blisteringly fast agility-drill times. Even after what was easily marked as a disappointing collegiate career relative to the recruitment and freshman year hype, the Bengals rolled the dice in the sixth round of the 2021 draft. Of course, Joe Mixon is Cincinnati's feature back, and Samaje Perine is the locked-in backup, so Evans only saw 17 rushes during the regular season. He averaged 4.5 yards per pop, a respectable figure, and forced an encouraging five missed tackles on those attempts. Evans proved to be a formidable receiving option too, which is probably where the most value of his future lies. 


He averaged 10.1 yards per catch on 15 receptions and forced another five whiffs by defenders. He's thick, bouncy, an effortless pass catcher. In short, he has the juice to threaten Perine for to be second in line for out-of-the-backfield touches on a dynamic Bengals offense. If he gets that opportunity -- and I think he'll get more action than he saw as a rookie -- Evans will bust out in Year 2. 

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