In a rare exchange that involved parting ways with one former Los Angeles Rams player to add another previously with the franchise, the Minnesota Vikings first released former Rams draft pick Chris Garrett on January 3 — only to help make way for Bobby Evans.
The Vikings announced the move Tuesday as the outside linebacker Garrett was on the team’s practice squad. The offensive lineman Evans, meanwhile, reunites with last season’s offensive coordinator with the Rams in Minnesota head coach Kevin O’Connell.
Looking Back at Evans & Garrett in L.A.
Evans was the one who was most recently in the “Rams House.” And was there the longest.
The offensive tackle first arrived to the franchise as a third rounder at No. 97 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. Evans came over as an All-Conference First Team selection in the Big 12 while starring at the University of Oklahoma. Draft expert Lance Zierlein of nfl.com mentioned how Evans played both tackle positions with a “noticeable nasty streak” and was labeled as someone who was capable of being a “good backup with the potential to develop into a starter.”
Evans, however, was met with struggling results in the 2022 season with the Rams. Pro Football Focus handed the 6-foot-4, 313-pounder with a lowly 29.8 overall grade — which included an even lower 16.4 pass block grading. He ended up taking 314 total snaps including pass blocking on 203 plays. But he played on a Rams offensive line unit that struggled with staying healthy and protecting the passer including Matthew Stafford.
Evans struggled the most facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 9 — surrendering a season-high three sacks on 57 snaps at left guard. He followed that with allowing two sacks up his side against the New Orleans Saints on the road while taking 41 snaps at left tackle. Before 2022, Evans had only surrendered a combined four sacks from 2019 to 2021. He wound up allowing seven in ’22.
He managed to squeeze in one snap in the Christmas romp of the Denver Broncos. The franchise, though, officially parted ways with him on New Year’s Eve as he was given a waive/no recall.
One likely reason for Minnesota to lure in Evans has to do with right tackle Brian O’Neil dealing with a calf injury. Evans could help add some needed depth for the season finale against the Chicago Bears while also being familiar with O’Connell’s offense.
Garrett, meanwhile, was a final round draft find by the Rams in 2021. He was taken 252nd overall in the seventh round out of Concordia College-St. Paul. The 6-foot-3, 243-pound edge rusher arrived to the league as an elite pass rusher at the NCAA Division II level — delivering 14 sacks while also adding 20.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage in 2019.
He was considered a “raw but highly-productive edge” who delivered “insane college production” in his evaluation from Zierlein. Rams Northeast/North area scout Chance Trickett said during the Rams’ “Inside the Draft” feature that Garrett’s pass rushing production was what really got him on the radar.
Garrett showed early flash of potential against the Las Vegas Raiders in the second preseason game of 2022: Delivering two sacks. NFL Network analyst Peter Schrager was in awe of Garrett’s performance that evening — even comparing him to three past Pro Bowlers.
But that would be his only game of snatching sacks. After being released in September 2022, the Vikings eventually signed him on September 14.
Vikings HC Adding This Accolade Involving Sean McVay
On O’Connell’s end, he’s not only gotten the Vikings to position themselves as a No. 2 seed heading into Week 18, but has continued this accolade involving Rams head coach Sean McVay.
The rookie head coach has become the latest to produce a playoff team after serving under McVay. Past McVay assistants who went on to taste success include Matt LaFleur (two NFC title game appearances with the Green Bay Packers), Zac Taylor (AFC title last season, has the Cincinnati Bengals staring at the conference’s No. 2 seed this year) and Brandon Staley (has Chargers in the postseason).
McVay said back on December 20 that he’s happy to see O’Connell as one of his past peers enjoying success.
“You’re always happy to see people that you care about go have success,” McVay said during a videoconference with reporters. “Gives me a smile in spite of all the challenges we’ve been through.”