Mike Evans was part of a terrific wide receiver draft class in 2014. Where does he rank among them? Does he have an argument as the best?
It’s a pretty rare thing to be able to recognize a great draft just a few years after the fact, but such is the case with the 2014 wide receiver draft class. The list is staggering to behold, riddled with play-maker after play-maker. Odds are you have at least one of these guys on your fantasy team.
In no particular order, the most accomplished of this group goes as follows: Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins, Brandin Cooks, Allen Robinson, Jarvis Landry, Kelvin Benjamin, Jordan Matthews, John Brown, Martavis Bryant, Allen Hurns, Donte Moncrief, and Davante Adams.
Top to bottom, all thirteen of these players have made significant contributions to their respective offenses and for the most part they continue to in year three. So, the question is: do the Buccaneers possess the best player in this group?
From a pure talent perspective, it’s an extremely tough call to make. Guys like Sammy Watkins, Kelvin Benjamin and Martavis Bryant have all the natural skills and talents that a receiver could ask or, but they haven’t been able to stay on the field enough to put it fully on display. Brandin Cooks and Jordan Matthews have shown flashes for periods of time but haven’t been able to find the consistency that elite players have.
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Other guys like John Brown, Allen Hurns, Davante Adams and Donte Moncrief have played second-fiddle to more talented receivers on their team but have still managed to shine.
Mike Evans is a part of the top tier that has managed to combine their incredible natural talent with immense production on the field. Odell Beckham, Allen Robinson and Jarvis Landry are fellow members of this tier.
When analyzing the short careers of all these players most people will come away with the conclusion that Odell Beckham has been the best. That’s because he has been. Beckham has more yards, catches and touchdowns than all of them thus far in their careers. Yet within the confines of this season, the narrative has begun to shift away from Beckham.
While Odell Beckham is at a low point in his career, Mike Evans is enjoying a high point in his. Among receivers this season, Evans is tied for fourth most receptions (26), seventh most yards (360), and is tied for the second most touchdowns (3). All of these marks are higher than Odell Beckham. In fact, Evans and Antonio Brown are the only receivers in the league to rank in the top ten in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns.
Mike Evans seems to have matured past the stage that Odell Beckham is in right now. That overly paranoid “everyone is out to get me” demeanor that Beckham expresses was something that plagued Mike Evans last season as he’d often get too caught up arguing with referees or opposing cornerbacks. Evans made those issues things of the past over the off-season, and this tangible growth from year two to year three has to make the Buccaneers organization and fans pretty happy.
What’s most impressive about Mike Evans is how young he is in football years. Evans barely played high school football and played just two seasons of college football. Based on that and the natural progression of his quarterback, it’s reasonable to believe that Evans can become much better than he already is.
We’ll see how things go as the season progresses, but as of right now I’m comfortable calling Mike Evans the best of this elite group. Not only does Evans have a chance to be the best of this group but he also could challenge to be the best Buccaneer receiver in team history. We’ll save that argument for another day.
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