Mike Evans gets disrespected once again by ESPN, and it needs to stop

Mike Evans was ranked behind players who aren't even WR1 on their own team, and this disrespect needs to stop.
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Let's not mince words: If you try to argue that Mike Evans isn't a top reciever in the NFL you're really saying that you don't watch a lot of football.

There's really no other way to put it. It's impossible to watch what Evans does, regardless of the system he's in, and come away believing that he's anything less than elite talent. The knock on why he wasn't more renowned for most of his career was circumstantial. Bad quarterbacks on even worse teams served as a dark cloud that blotted out the shine of Evans' talent, something we saw the instant Tom Brady came to town.

Evans has been a top talent at his position for more than just three seasons, and has put together consistently elite performances despite having guys who aren't even in the league anymore throwing him the ball.

It finally felt like we were past the point where Evans was considered an underrated talent, but the clocks have been turned back.

Mike Evans is the 18th-best WR in the NFL, according to ESPN

Folks, this is getting ridiculous.

ESPN ranked who their experts think will be the Top 100 players in the league this upcoming season. Two Bucs players made the list: Tristan Wirfs at No. 51 and Mike Evans at No. 76.

Wirfs dropped 15 spots from last year, but Evans fell off a cliff -- and nearly off the list -- for no good reason.

Here's what ESPN wrote about him:

""For those concerned Evans may have a drop-off without Tom Brady: He has had nine 1,000-yard seasons with five different starting quarterbacks. The scheme under new offensive coordinator Dave Canales also has him moving around more than he ever has, and this system is more about the scheme getting guys open and less reliant on guys constantly having to win their one-on-one matchups. Even at 30, there has been zero indication of him slowing down this training camp.""

Jenna Laine, ESPN

That seems pretty positive and is an accurate assessment of what Evans has done over the course of his career with the Bucs. If anything, it's underselling just how good he's been on a team that at times hasn't deserved a player as talented as him.

Yet, all of the positivity seems backhanded when considering Evans' place on the Top 100. He's ranked in the bottom third of the list and behind 17 other receivers. It's fair to put guys like Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase ahead of Evans, but some of the other receivers make the ranking feel like a bad joke.

Here are five guys ESPN thinks will be better than Mike Evans when the season is over:

  • Chris Olave
  • Amon-Ra St. Brown
  • Jaylen Waddle
  • Tee Higgins
  • De'Vonta Smith

No disrespect to those guys, but they're not in the same class as Evans. Three of them aren't even WR1 for their respective depth charts. While there's clearly potential upside in each of their situations it's hard to see their ceiling being higher than what Evans offers.

Then again, who among us is surprised that Evans is getting shafted like this?

Being forced to carry around the 'underrated' tag seems to come with the territory in Tampa Bay, and Evans is the poster child for flying under the radar. He has yet to finish a season of his career with fewer than 1,000 yards and has gone well over double-digit touchdowns four times.

Everyone seemingly discovered how good he was when Tom Brady was his quarterback, but Evans' first career touchdown pass came from Mike Glennon. He caught 11 more touchdown passes during his rookie season despite his quarterbacks being Glennon and Josh McCown. Ryan Fitzpatrick and pre-LASIK Jameis Winston were his quarterbacks one season and Evans went to the Pro Bowl.

If the rationale for having him forty spots lower than he was last year is that Baker Mayfield isn't Tom Brady the arguement doesn't hold up. It doesn't matter who his quarterback is, Evans is consistently elite.

That's not to say the guys ranked above him won't have good seasons, but keeping Evans out of the conversation as a top receiver in the league is starting to be a tell that whoever is making it doesn't really watch a lot of football.

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