Latest NFL Power Ranking proves that Mike Evans is still somehow criminally underrated

What do Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have to do before they start getting some respect from NFL experts?
Tennessee Titans v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tennessee Titans v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Rich Storry/GettyImages

Following the peak of NFL free agency and the entirety of the NFL Draft, things have slowed to a halt.

As the offseason transitions from player signings and departures to rookie minicamps and OTAs, it's time to start looking ahead and predicting what teams will stand out and which players will continue to dominate.

Despite everything the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did last season, it seems they're still being slept on as potential contenders. Baker Mayfield was disrespected in a ranking of quarterbacks heading into the offseason and now Mike Evans has joined that club.

CBS Sports released his annual ranking of the top 12 wide receiver duos in the NFL and not only was Evans overlooked but so were his partners in the receivers room.

Buccaneers WRs get totally overlooked in latest NFL Power Ranking

At the top of the list, CBS Sports lists the Texans as having the No. 1 wide receiver trio in the league after trading for four-time Pro Bowler Stefon Diggs to pair with Tank Dell and Nico Collins. Chicago, Miami, and Cincinnati would round out the top four, and San Francisco would place in the top five.

Later in the ranking, the Buccaneers show up at No. 7, ahead of the likes of the Seahawks, Vikings, Rams, Cowboys, and Titans. Podell's chosen trio in Tampa Bay consists of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Trey Palmer, but argued that Palmer could be replaced by 2023 third-round pick Jalen McMillan, pending on how the former Huskie plays as a rookie.

At first glance, the list has plenty of validity to it, with no major disagreeable rankings by Podell. That said, Tampa Bay's seventh-place finish does raise questions, especially considering when San Francisco's trio of Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and Jauan Jennings ranked fifth in the league.

Of all 12 teams on the list, Tampa Bay was the only team to return a pair of wide receivers that eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark, and just one of four teams to enter 2024 with the same duo. The dominance of the duo starts with Evans, who caught 79 passes for 1,255 receiving yards, a league-leading 13 touchdowns, and 15.9 yards per catch in 17 starts. That earned Evans his fifth Pro Bowl nod, and his tenth straight 1,000-yard season, trailing only legendary wide receiver Jerry Rice's mark of 11.

Similarly, 2023 was another excellent season for Godwin, who continued to thrive as the No. 2 option behind Evans. Starting in all 17 games, Godwin hauled in 83 catches for 1,024 receiving yards, two touchdowns, and 12.3 yards per catch. That came just two years after Godwin tore his ACL in 2021, and projects to have a breakout season as the Buccaneers' primary slot receiver under new offensive coordinator Liam Coen.

While Palmer didn't explode onto the scene in his rookie season, the former Cornhusker finished his rookie season with a respectable 39 catches for 385 receiving yards, three touchdowns, and 9.9 yards per catch in 17 games (eight starts). McMillan, the No. 92 pick in this year's draft, may move past Palmer in the depth chart after catching 163 passes for 2,127 receiving yards, 17 touchdowns, and 12.8 yards per reception in three seasons at Washington.

In comparison to Tampa Bay, San Francisco's wide receiver trio just doesn't compare in any areas that would justify a two-difference place on the list. While Samuel did post a league-leading 8.8 yards-after-catch average, Samuel finished the year with 892 yards and seven touchdowns on 60 catches, marks significantly lower than Evans or Godwin. The main argument for this is the way Samuel is also used on the ground, where the former second-round pick notched 225 yards and five touchdowns on 37 carries.

Furthermore, the third-year breakout of Aiyuk was quite remarkable, as Aiyuk caught 75 passes for 1,342 receiving yards, seven touchdowns, and 17.9 yards per catch, all career-highs. That earned Aiyuk's first All-Pro Second Team selection and played a major role in the 49ers' impressive run to Super Bowl LVIII.

Like the Buccaneers, the 49ers have a weak No. 3 receiver that knocks them in their ranking, with San Fransisco slotting in Jauan Jennings. With season totals of 19 catches, 265 yards, one touchdown, and 13.9 yards per catch, Jennings' performance is lackluster enough to mitigate the stout play of Aiyuk and Samuel, especially when Evans, Godwin, and Palmer simply outplay San Fransico's duo.

Of course, it's worth noting that a strong rookie season by Ricky Pearsall, the 49ers' No. 31 pick in the 2024 draft, would clear Evans, Godwin, and Palmer. Ultimately, this ranking hangs in how McMillan's and Pearsall's rookie seasons pan out.

As of now, it's pretty safe to say that the Buccaneers' wide receiver trio is outright better than the 49ers' entering the 2024 season.

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