Mb Nfl Lock Of The Szn Pewter 728x90 Jpg

Bucs Briefing is exclusively sponsored by Locker Room: Tap In, Talk Sports  the official social audio partner of PewterReport.com.

Locker Room is changing the way we talk sports (and talk about the Bucs!). It’s the only place for live audio conversations about the takes, rumors, news, and teams you care about.

React to sports news as it happens. Gather all your friends in watch parties for the biggest games. Rep your favorite teams and find your community. Better sports talk is just a tap away — download on the Apple App Store and join the conversation!


Ever since I started at PewterReport.com back in February 2020, one question has come my way again and again. Who do you think is better – Mike Evans or Chris Godwin?

At first glance, the question seems difficult to answer. The Bucs use both players very differently, and both have some different strengths and weaknesses…to a degree. But the more I thought about it, the more I became convinced that not answering the question was a cop-out.

We’re not comparing Mike Evans to Jarvis Landry here. Yes, Godwin is utilized differently than Evans, but he still does plenty in the vertical passing game and has been a big play threat for the Bucs throughout his career. There’s enough crossover in the two players’ skill sets to make it easy to compare them – if you’ve got the stones for it.

We’ll begin the comparison by clarifying that both players are clearly elite. Nobody is being disrespected here. It’s also worth clarifying that this is a conversation about which player is better right now, not who has had the better career. Evans is a future Hall of Famer, while Godwin’s career is just getting started. Perhaps someday we’ll write about which player has had the better career. For now the question is ‘who is better in 2021?’, drawing evidence from mainly the past two seasons to reach a conclusion.

I ran both players through aspects of my wide receiver grading scale, rating their skill sets across ten categories. Here’s the result:

Separation Quickness/Route-Running/Releases

I’ve combined three grading categories into one section here, with the overall focus on how both players separate from coverage, from their release to the top of their route. Neither Godwin or Evans will be confused for Amari Cooper or Stefon Diggs, but both are underrated separators, especially Evans.

Godwin typically gets credit for being a polished route-runner, and he certainly is. The Penn State product isn’t the most explosive mover, but his consistent attention to detail and ability to sell fakes with his body language can make corners look silly. There’s a subtle brilliance to Godwin as a route runner that gains him the separation other receivers obtain with suddenness.

See how committed Godwin is to his fakes before he breaks the route off? The deliberate movement almost always forces corners to guess at the top of the route, and usually they don’t guess right. Most defensive backs just aren’t patient enough to hang with Godwin.

Evans isn’t as crafty as Godwin, but he’s a better pure athlete. At 6-5, 225 pounds, most wouldn’t expect Evans to be able to drop his hips and separate the way that he does. The suddenness that he plays with at his size is pretty remarkable.

Bucs WR Mike Evans and Chris Godwin

Evans excels at this stutter-and-go slot fade from a reduced split. This throw was late and incomplete, but you can see how he’s able to obtain separation with quick feet and acceleration vs James Bradberry. Evans is also very good at avoiding jams and getting into his route clean. That’s a testament to his change-of-direction and polished hand usage.

Bucs WR Mike Evans and Chris Godwin

Bucs WR Mike Evans and Chris Godwin

For some reason Evans has been thought of as a big, contested catch receiver who doesn’t separate, when that couldn’t be further from the truth. He’s an outstanding separator in the intermediate and deep passing game, even if he may never be an ideal short game option. Not every receiver that excels at creating separation has to play like Cooper and Diggs.

So who is better in this section, Godwin or Evans? I think Godwin is the more savvy, creative route runner, while Evans might be better at creating natural separation with his traits. Evans is the better athlete of the two, and his size creates problems.

As for releases, both are among the best in the league. It’s worth noting, however, that Evans sees far more press man coverage battles and far less cushions off the snap than Godwin, according to Next Gen Stats. Evans saw the 11th-lowest average number of cushion yards amongst all NFL receivers, while Godwin was ranked 74th.

It’s a push for me.

Advantage: Push

Contested Catch/Ball Skills

This is an area where many would give Evans the nod based off reputation, but in reality Godwin is superior in contested catch situations and in his overall ball skills. Ball skills include tracking, catching the ball outside his frame, reliable hands and body control on the sideline/in the air.

Over the past two seasons, Godwin has caught 69.2 percent (9-of-13 in 2020) and 66.7 percent (16-of-25 in 2019) of his contested targets. That’s 25-of-38 over a two-year span, or 66 percent. According to Pro Football Focus, Godwin ranked 2nd out of 79 receivers (50+ target minimum) in contested catch rate in 2019, and fifth in 2020. Add in the context of the tape, and there’s a strong case to be made that Godwin is the best contested catch receiver in the NFL.

Bucs WR Mike Evans and Chris Godwin

Bucs WR Mike Evans and Chris Godwin

Godwin excels at catching the football in tight windows with defenders hanging all over him. His ability to stay focused and reel in fastballs while opponents rip at his hands is second to none. That strength, toughness and finishing ability is what makes Godwin so good in the middle of the field.

And if you want Godwin to make plays on the ball down the field, he might be the best in the league at that too.

In terms of ball skills and contested catch ability, Godwin lacks nothing. He’s big and strong with elite concentration and terrific body control to adjust and finish. He’ll make grabs with a defender working over his back, elevating over an opponent or going well outside his frame to finish. Godwin’s tape is as elite as it gets in contested catch or high-degree-of-difficulty situations.

Now, here comes the shocking part. The numbers and the tape suggest that Mike Evans is just a good, not great contested catch receiver. I actually held this opinion in secret going into the 2020 season, and I think his performance last year confirmed it. Evans can certainly make contested catches and has plenty of tough grabs on his tape, but he simply isn’t as consistent or as dominant as Godwin in those situations.

Over the past two seasons, Evans has caught 56.3 percent (9-of-16 in 2020) and 51.7 percent (15-of-29 in 2019) of his contested targets. That’s 24-of-45 over a two-year span, or 53.3 percent. According to Pro Football Focus, Evans ranked 24th out of 79 receivers (50+ target minimum) in contested catch rate in 2019, and 23rd in 2020.

Throughout his career, Evans has won more with speed, route-running and separation ability than he has with his ball skills. Don’t get me wrong, Evans can win above the rim and in tight spaces too. But he’s more inconsistent than Godwin as a finisher. At times, Evans’ tracking and adjustments to the ball can leave something to be desired.

Bucs WR Mike Evans and Chris Godwin

Bucs WR Mike Evans and Chris Godwin

No conversation about ball skills is complete without talking about drops and catch rate. How often do you let catchable passes go off your hands? What percentage of targets that go your way end in a reception?

Over the course of his career, Godwin has six drops. In four seasons, Godwin has never dropped more than two passes in an entire regular season. That is simply ridiculous. Godwin caught over 78 percent of his targets in 2020, sixth in the NFL. In 2019 Godwin caught over 75 percent of his 114 targets, fourth in the NFL.

Things have gone a bit differently for Evans in recent years. The seven-year pro dropped eight passes in 2020, a year after dropping seven. Drops have always been a small concern with Evans, as he’s dropped seven or more passes in five of his seven seasons. Catch rate has also been used against him fairly frequently, as Evans just posted a personal best 64.8 percent in 2020. That was only good enough for 56th in the NFL.

Now, Evans has a higher average depth of target than Godwin by a substantial margin, making many of his targets much more low percentage. Targeting Evans will never be as efficient as targeting other top receivers, but part of that is certainly due to his heavy downfield usage. There are no manufactured, quick-game touches for Evans, so you surrender some efficiency to obtain the big plays. Speaking of which…

Advantage: Godwin

Speed/Big Plays

Calling Chris Godwin a slot receiver perpetuates a misperception that he isn’t a terrific vertical receiver. What makes Godwin so special is that he’s able to do all the typical slot receiver stuff (separate short-intermediate, work the middle of the field, move the chains, pick up yardage on manufactured touches, block) at an elite level, without sacrificing downfield play-making.

Per Pro Football Focus, Godwin has reeled in 16-of-29 deep (20+ air yards) targets over the past two seasons. He’s never dropped a 20+ yard throw in the regular season, but he isn’t utilized deep as often as Evans is. Godwin’s ability to do it all is notable, but in this category he’s up against one of the game’s all-time great vertical threats.

Mike Evans isn’t fast for a big guy, he’s just fast. Period. His combination of speed, physicality and route-running allow him to get consistent separation deep, even against top-tier press man corners.

Bucs WR Mike Evans and Chris Godwin

In 2020, Evans caught 52.2 percent of his 20+ yard targets, the best mark of his career. Playing with Winston early in his career dragged down Evans’ efficiency numbers significantly. The former Bucs quarterback would often target Evans deep even when the receiver wasn’t open, or was double-covered. The improved decision-making from the quarterback position helped Evans reach a career-high catch percentage in 2020.

If not for the presence of Evans, Godwin might be a more productive deep threat than we’ve already seen in his career. When Evans went down in Week 17, Godwin stepped in and caught 2-of-3 deep targets on his way to his biggest game of the season (5-133-2).

But for now, Godwin will allow Evans and Scotty Miller to do the majority of the deep passing game work, cashing in on his opportunities when they come. Evans is one of the premier vertical threats in the NFL, and having Brady as his quarterback has only made him that much more dangerous.

Advantage: Evans

YAC Ability

No reason to belabor this point. The biggest knock against Evans as a receiver is that he’s just not a very effective post-catch threat. Sure, his speed is a factor in the open field, and his size allows him to fight through tackles for an extra yard or two. But Evans is not a creator with the ball in his hands, nor is he elusive or much of a tackle-breaker. He’s also rarely been given catch-and-run targets during his career, because it isn’t what he does well.

In 2019, Godwin was arguably the most effective receiver in the league after the catch, forcing 17 missed tackles and churning out 580 yards after the catch. That mark was good enough for second in the NFL, picking up an average of nearly seven extra yards per catch.

Last season, Godwin wasn’t as productive after the catch, with the missed time and the addition of Antonio Brown playing a role in that. I’m guessing this is the area of his game we see take a jump again in 2021, as Godwin’s strength and vision with the ball in his hands are underrated assets of his game.

Advantage: Godwin

Other WR Skills (Blocking, Versatility, Mistakes)

Alignment Versatility

Evans has been primarily an outside threat over the course of his career, while Godwin has played a ton from the slot and from the outside. Last year the two were as interchangeable as they’ve ever been, with Evans playing a career high number of snaps in the slot. Still, Godwin is clearly the more effective receiver from multiple alignments, and he’s the wideout that stays on the field most often when the team goes 13 personnel (one running back, three tight ends).

If Evans can keep growing as a slot option, it’ll help the Bucs get him away from opposing team’s top corners. But for now, Godwin is clearly superior in this area.

Advantage: Godwin

Blocking

Godwin is one of the best blocking receivers in the NFL, frequently getting moved to the wing to handle insert or kick out blocks across the formation. He’s a big part of the Bucs run and screen game because of his blocking. Evans will try hard and get in the way, but he’s never been a great blocker.

Advantage: Godwin

Mistakes

I won’t go into a ton of detail here, but Evans can be a little erratic in this area. Maybe it’s because he’s an emotional player or maybe it’s because he’s asked to run a ton of option routes based on how the safeties and middle-of-the-field defender present themselves post-snap. But whatever the reason, Evans has been on the receiving end of a healthy number of miscommunications in his career.

Quarterbacks have thrown a whopping 42 interceptions when targeting Evans in his career. Some of that is playing with Winston. But some of that is also on Evans. Brady only threw two interceptions when targeting Evans in the regular season, but both were the result of the receiver mis-reading the coverage.

Of course, when you’re targeted as often as Evans, especially in the vertical game, mistakes are bound to happen. He’s a highly-intelligent player who makes the right decision more often than not. But when you’re pitted against a player as reliable and steady as Godwin, it’s tough to win this category.

Advantage: Godwin

Conclusion – Godwin Or Evans?

When we begin from the premise that Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are both top ten receivers in the NFL, it becomes easier to juxtapose their skill sets and be honest about what the tape reveals. In the categories of ball skills, contested catch ability, YAC ability, blocking, versatility and reliability, it is hard to make a case that Evans is better than Godwin. Both are elite route runners, so I called that category a push.

Evans is the superior deep threat right now, but how much of that is usage? Godwin doesn’t have the same deep ball production, but his downfield catch rate is superior to Evans over the past two years. If I wanted an outside, X-receiver to stretch the field, I would select Evans over Godwin. But it wouldn’t be by much, and Godwin takes all the other categories.

The best argument for Evans superiority to Godwin is that he has consistently attracted the attention of top-tier opposing cornerbacks, while Godwin has not. Some of that is Evans being more established, and some of it is Evans aligning more often on the outside, where most top corners prefer to play. Godwin is the more difficult receiver to follow because of his versatility, forcing teams to focus on taking away Evans with their best corner.

Evans has had mixed results in some of those matchups, but over his career he has obviously won more battles than he’s lost. Perhaps someday we’ll see if Godwin can handle that kind of a role, but for now we’re left to analyze the two players based on traits and abilities. Both players are clearly special talents at the position, and the difference of their roles does matter. But Godwin is a better all-around wide receiver than Evans, and should be slotted higher than him in rankings at the position.

Share On Socials

About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
Subscribe
Notify of
26 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Naplesfan
2 months ago

Boy, a whole lot of words expended to analyze something that is meaningless. It literally does not matter “who is better”. They’re both very good, among the best in the league. They each contribute in slightly different ways. Losing either one would be a very bad outcome for the Bucs this season. Fortunately, we also have some others who can step up and perform when it’s most needed – including AB and Scotty. With perhaps a couple other younger guys who might also prove out eventually too. All of our wide receivers suffered injuries at some point during last season… Read more »

drdneast
Reply to  Naplesfan
2 months ago

Meaningless? It may not matter this season but next year it probably will since I can’t see the Bucs affording both of these players unless the salary cap is substantially raised, but who knows, I have been wrong before.
I see the same thing happening with our RB’s. It’s going to be very difficult to keep them both next season.

Naplesfan
Reply to  drdneast
2 months ago

Next year does not matter yet. The team has to take them a season at a time Salary cap is unlikely to be a big problem for the Bucs because the current management does a great job of managing the cap, and next year’s post-COVID cap is guaranteed to be much higher than this year’s cap.

LIBucsFan93
2 months ago

Is Godwin a product of having Evans on the other side though? I think they complement each other. I posed this question regarding Ridley in Atlanta. I think Julio Jones was such a force that Ridley was simply a product of having Julio Jones drawing the double teams.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  LIBucsFan93
2 months ago

No, he’s not.

Captain Sly
2 months ago

I get that you want to Stir Debate which is why you only used stats for the past two seasons when Godwin has clearly played 4yrs and while Evans has played 7yrs, but context is everything. Evans was literally a stud as a rookie with Vjax (RIP) as our #1 and ripping up the league. Godwin spent 2yrs trying to beat out somebody named Adam Humphries & Freddie Martino and couldn’t see the field until Hump left in FA. Context. Godwin only has 1 breakout season 2019’ when Winston was Chucking the ball all over field, you know who also… Read more »

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Captain Sly
2 months ago

These are mostly weak arguments that don’t have anything to do with the actual question. Was Evans better than Antonio Brown in the 2010’s because Brown was buried on the depth chart as a mid round pick as a rookie and only put up 167 yards receiving? No, of course not. Evans is clearly the more accomplished player. No doubt. But again, that’s not the question. Stats won’t tell you the true story of who’s better between two players in the same offense today. That’s silly. I’m not saying Ledyard is totally right – I think Mike’s ability to play… Read more »

Rob
Rob
2 months ago

Getting a lot of hate on here Jon, but I for one definitely appreciated the article. Does it matter today? No. Are we in the down time of the season and want things to talk about-absolutely! Jon’s not arguing for one vs the other….this is just a reality as people are ranking WRs this time of year that’s worth him doing an article about. Now….where this DOES matter is the fact that Godwin and the Bucs are legitimately in the middle of contract negotiations about a long term extension and they DO need to determine if they are willing to… Read more »

Naplesfan
Reply to  Rob
2 months ago

The players literally do not care about contract negotiations, they do not even get involved in those negotiations, its between their agents and the lower level staff working for Licht. That’s done for a very good reason, so that players and team leaders don’t get mad at each other which can only hurt a team. The coaches don’t care either – the front office provides them with players and it’s their job to coach the players they have, not the players they might have or might not have in a year or two or three. This is the NFL –… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Naplesfan
Rob
Rob
Reply to  Naplesfan
2 months ago

Naplesfan if you don’t think players care about other players contracts, you’re living in a dream world my friend. Now-do I honestly think Mike Evans is going to care if Godwin gets his and becomes the highest paid WR on the Bucs? I really don’t. Mike does not seem to be a big ego guy and would be happy for his teammate. BUT….these ARE conversations that happen in the front office, with the coaches and yes-with the players. So yes-this article whether you like it or not, DOES actually have a place here on PewterReport. And this isn’t just about… Read more »

scubog
Reply to  Naplesfan
2 months ago

Suggesting that “players literally don’t care about contract negotiations” sure paints them with a ridiculously broad brush. They might not want to be overly involved and prefer to take a “wake me when it’s over” approach, but they certainly want to be briefed and advised throughout the process. I doubt if you, or most of us, have ever had a ringside seat at the negotiating table. Maybe the undrafted free agents and low round Draft choices could be handled by “lower level staff” to a point. But when your talking about the $$$ Mike Evans and Chris Godwin command, you… Read more »

Dave
Reply to  Naplesfan
2 months ago

The players absolutely positively care about negotiations/contract/and what they’re paid relative to teammates or similar players at their position. Just ask Aaron Rodgers or Stephon Gilmore. To say they don’t care, is so incredibly inaccurate, it’s not even funny

Last edited 2 months ago by Dave
toofamiliar17
Reply to  Rob
2 months ago

Well said. I swear, some people just want to complain about nothing. I appreciate any decent writer or analyst (and Jon is both, despite what his ignorant haters think) who can and does generate interesting content this time of year. Do I always agree with him? No, of course not. But am I grateful for something Bucs-related to think about in June? Of course! Some people are just ungrateful. I think it’s incredibly rude to respond to content someone puts time and effort into creating with a purely dismissive or derisive attitude. Does it really matter who is better? Well… Read more »

FLBoy84
2 months ago

Understand the need for content, but never been a fan of these “this guy is better than that guy” articles, especially as they’ve seem to become more prevalent over the last few years. What ever happened to just appreciating each individual players talent, the different skill sets they each bring to the table, and the way they compliment each other on the field? It could be argued this “I’m better than you” mentality that’s become more widespread lately could be part of the reason the country’s in the state that it is currently.

Horse
2 months ago

Not even close; Evans doesn’t have to prove anything. He is the man!

Benjamin
2 months ago

I love both players but Mike Evans has proven the last two years that he is more dominate player, that he is the better player. Godwin is more banged up, missed more time the last two seasons and I do not think Godwin is as tough of a player as Evans. I mean Mike was hurt ALL season long and yet he still put another 1,000 yard season. I do think Godwin is a damn good and soon to be great WR he just has to play through injuries more often and be tougher he has missed a lot of… Read more »

jackpc1
2 months ago

I hope the Bucs will never have to choose between Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. As pointed out, they have unique skills and do different things. Evans is not full of himself to demand more balls thrown to him. As long as salary cap is worked out and both players can see value being Buc teammates, I will root for both.

bucballer
2 months ago

Not that it matters, but Mike is the better of the two. He is more consistent year in and year out and manages to play through a lot of injuries. Mike Evans is the best WR in Tampa Bay Buccaneer history. Fact! Having said that, Godwin is a beast himself. He has all the tools and is always a mismatch in man to man coverage.

SenileSenior
2 months ago

I am a relatively small guy. I stopped growing by the time I was 14 or 15. This means I never got to play high school football after my freshman year. It seemed as if everyone else outgrew me so even though I loved football, playing at an organized level became a relatively hopeless pursuit.   My point is that as a fan who did not get deeply into playing football I come at the game differently than those who may have had high school or college experience. Therefore, I appreciate the kind of analysis that Jon presents. It adds to my knowledge and enjoyment for watching our Bucs. Also, I want… Read more »

scubog
Reply to  SenileSenior
2 months ago

Good points Senile. Having a differing opinion nowadays can cause outrage rather than a logical counterpoint in people who have become unable to think for themselves or see the rationale in a different perspective. Me, I try to inject a little humor.

toofamiliar17
Reply to  scubog
2 months ago

I don’t think anyone minds Naples or anyone disagreeing with them on subjects. If we all agreed all the time, this place would be really boring. What bugs me is his tendency to go after writers here and trivialize the effort and energy that goes into their work. Being so rudely dismissive of an entire topic because it doesn’t interest him personally is, to me, unnecessarily disrespectful. And he’s done this kind of thing a few times, this general “this is stupid and doesn’t matter, why are we talking about this?” kind of thing. Like, whoever it is – SR,… Read more »

scubog
Reply to  toofamiliar17
2 months ago

I too applaud the efforts of all of the PR staff. I’m often amazed at the in- depth knowledge of the technical aspects of football, of which many of us are unaware. Not saying I always agree with their opinions, but I certainly see the validity of their point. Some here are occasionally overly critical of Jon. No doubt because he’s only been here for a short time. Perhaps even because he’s from Pittsburgh like me. I find having those Pittsburgh roots a desirable trait.

Barnz1
2 months ago

One thing I’ve noticed with Evans is how much weight he has lost from previous years. His arms are obviously still long but he’s really skinny. He used to a big bulky receiver who would overpower DB’s.
I wouldn’t him putting 5-10 more pounds back on to balance it back. I think I heard even from his mouth recently he’s 215 pounds. At 6’5 that is very light. He could afford to go back up to 220-225 and keep most of his speed. It would help him at the LOS against guys like Lattimore who typically own him.

seat26
2 months ago

Evans has special attributes, He is big, he has incredible hands and he is strong. And he breaks Buccaneer records in receiving, every year he plays. But Godwin is special in a different way. He has finesse. He catches EVERYTHING. And he makes those catches on the sideline and endzone that look impossible. He’s faster too. No matter what happens to the receiver room going forward, Godwin has to be a part of it.

deeznuts
2 months ago

They play different positions and have different skill sets. This is the equivalent of saying apples are better than oranges. I think what also needs to be considered is Evans’ ability to absolutely dominate a game when he turns up. He puts up some sick numbers in his best career performances. Evans had a down year last year, no doubt about it. If I had to pick one. I’d probably go with Godwin bc of his versatility, but not having Evans around would make life difficult for Godwin in the slot. Evans plays with a reckless abandon that Godwin doesn’t,… Read more »

plopes808
2 months ago

The short answer it “whoever is getting less attention on any given play.” We’ve seen Evans put up numbers without Godwin, but both clearly make the other better by drawing attention.

Mb Nfl Lock Of The Szn Pewter 728x90 Jpg