If you ask most analysts, the Bucs weapons are easily among the best in the NFL. But it appears some team personnel around the league may be a little lower on the Bucs top pass-catchers than most, based on the results of a recent ESPN survey.
In a poll of more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players to rank the top 10 players in the NFL at wide receiver and at tight end, Mike Evans slotted seventh at wide receiver, while Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski were unranked. Both Godwin and Gronkowski did generate praise as honorable mentions.
Evans, who just posted a record-setting seventh consecutive season, was listed above surging young receivers D.K. Metcalf and A.J. Brown, and one spot above the Saints’ Michael Thomas. The Bucs all-time leading receiver caught 13 touchdowns last year and was still a dominant downfield threat despite injuries.
Added an AFC scout: “I thought he declined in ’19 but maybe wasn’t playing as hard as he used to — looked better this year. You don’t realize how good he is until you really watch him and how consistent he’s been. He’s a constant No. 7 or 8. Not a top-five guy but definitely top-10. He doesn’t do it for everybody. But he’s the size of a tight end and can run, and that’s rare.”
Evans ranking is well-deserved, and Godwin’s exclusion isn’t totally surprising. The fourth-year receiver missed four games with injuries last season, failing to hit 1,000 yards as a result. Godwin will undoubtedly work his way back into the top ten with another big year in 2020. He’s the volume receiver in the Bucs offense and one of the more well-rounded pass catchers in the NFL.
“He didn’t have as big of a year but [he’s] incredibly tough, played through pain on that hand injury and still produced in big moments.” — NFC defensive coach
Gronkowski’s absence from the tight end rankings is stunning to me. This may have been the position that generated the worst survey results of all of them, as Gronkowski didn’t crack a top 10 that included Hunter Henry, Evan Engram and Jonnu Smith. There is no way anyone can watch those three tight ends and conclude that Gronkowski is worse. Tight end is one of the weaker positions in the NFL. Even with an eye toward the future, it’s ridiculous to suggest Gronkowski won’t be a top ten tight end next season.
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
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