De Pere’s Heim aiming for NFL roster
By Rich Palzewic
DE PERE – Just because 2015 De Pere graduate Evan Heim didn’t attend a Division I college to play football, it doesn’t mean he hasn’t set his heights high.
The recently graduated finance/business major from Division II Minnesota State University-Mankato (MSU) is hoping for a shot in the National Football League.
“As of right now, it looks like I’ll be an undrafted free agent,” said the 6-foot-4, 307-pound Heim, who also played baseball, rugby and wrestled at De Pere. “I’m working hard and waiting for the NFL Draft in April. If I don’t get selected, I’ll find the right fit with a team and keep working.”
The offensive lineman redshirted his first year at MSU, started 11 games at right tackle his redshirt freshman season and moved to left tackle for the final 43 games of his collegiate career.
“I have a shot to make it,” Heim said of his chances to crack an NFL roster. “I’ve been an underdog my whole career. During my senior year in high school, I was second-team all-conference. I went to a Division II school and was a three-time, first-team all-conference player and a two-time, first-team All-American. Even though I played Division II, I want to prove I’m as good as the Division I guys.”
Heim, who has been contacted by 28 of the 32 NFL teams, said he is projected as a center/guard at the next level.
Ironically, Heim said he has not been contacted by the Green Bay Packers.
“I am versatile and can play all three positions on the line,” he said. “I’m currently working on my speed numbers and technique.”
Heim said he still thinks about his De Pere days and reminisces fondly about playing at Redbirds Stadium.
“I liked my time at De Pere,” he said. “I’m still best friends with many of the guys from my high school days, and Friday nights are some of my best memories. I loved all my college teammates, too, but Fridays were different than Saturdays, and hopefully, Sundays [in the NFL] will be different than Saturdays.”
Heim said he will attend MSU’s pro day on March 23.
Heim’s agent, Joe Flanagan, said he also thinks his client has a good shot at cracking an NFL roster.
“I’ve represented a number of clients in this area over the past 23 years as an agent,” he said. “I did my homework on Evan, and he has the typical challenges of a Division II kid. The level of competition he has played against isn’t what most scouts are going to give much credence to. He has been relatively dominant at the Division II level, and that’s what you have to be to get consideration. It doesn’t mean much to NFL scouts beyond he will get an opportunity. He faces challenges, but he understands that.”
Flanagan, who has been living in the area for about 15 years, said Heim has the tools to play on Sundays.
“In watching Evan – I’ve represented between 70 and 100 offensive linemen over the years – he is smart,” he said. “I could see him being a center/guard for a team which has some movement in their offense. He’s not a huge road-grader, so the offensive scheme will be important for him. Evan has some athleticism. This period of time before the draft is his time to gain the opportunity to compete. If he gets the chance to compete at an NFL camp, then he’ll have to prove himself again. If he’s going to make a team, it will come when he puts the pads on.”
Flanagan said years ago, it was more difficult for a non-Division I player to get recognized by the pro scouts.
“The scouting process is broadening every year,” he said. “Because of the internet, scouts can view more tape and assess guys much quicker. Scouts are taking more chances on players and giving younger general managers more opportunities. When watching the NFL draft in the past, it would take a long time for a name to appear you didn’t recognize – that’s not the case anymore. Draft picks still get the benefit of the doubt, but teams will cut a sixth-rounder in a heartbeat if they think an undrafted player can help them.”