The Buccaneers brought Mike Evans onto this team with the seventh overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft fully expecting him to produce immediate results.
In his two years at Texas A&M, Evans recorded at least four receptions in 25 of his 26 games while racking up 2,499 total receiving yards and 17 touchdowns as part of the Aggies’ explosive offense.
To the team’s delight, Evans has rolled that consistency over to his NFL career as well.
The rookie’s arrow continues to point in the right direction as he’s hauled in at least four receptions in each of his eight professional games. The past two weeks have been Evans’ best. He went seven receptions for 124 yards and two touchdowns in Cleveland and seven receptions for 125 yards and one touchdown against Atlanta.
Those big performances have increased Evans’ national exposure and made him a back-to-back nominee for NFL’s Pepsi Rookie of the Week award.
During Thursday’s open locker room at One Buccaneer Place, Evans said that his rise in productivity can be attributed to his growing comfort level in Tampa Bay’s offense.
“I’m way ahead of when I started out,” he said. “I was injured in training camp early on and now I’m healthy. The offense is picking up, it’s like second nature to me, and now I’m playing faster than ever.”
Evans is one of a handful of rookie receivers making their presence felt in their first year in the league. Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin, Buffalo’s Sammy Watkins, Jacksonville’s Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, New Orleans’ Brandin Cooks, Pittsburgh’s Martavis Bryant, the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr. and Philadelphia’s Jordan Matthews have all impacted their team’s offenses this season.
Evans said he’s aware of his Class of 2014 peers but doesn’t actively track anyone’s status.
“Not on purpose,” he said. “It just happens. I’ll be on Twitter and I’ll see what they did or something like that. So I see our rookie class is pretty good. It’s fun having those guys to compete with as well.”
Evans is ranked third in receiving yardage (585) among this year’s rookies, behind Benjamin (659) and Watkins (617), respectively. But Evans missed the Week 5 New Orleans game and has appeared in only eight games compared with Benjamin’s 10 and Watkins’ nine. Evans 73.1 yard per game average is higher that both young, fellow pass catchers. Pittsburgh’s Bryant (77.5 yards per game) and the Giants’ Beckham Jr. (74.0) pace all rookies in that category.
Tampa Bay coaches and fans envisioned Evans quickly developing into the second of a twin-tower combo opposite veteran wideout Vincent Jackson and that’s beginning to materialize.
“I’ve said all year, I think those two guys present some obstacles and some problems for defenses because of their ability to play,” quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo said this week. “They’re great players, let alone their obvious skill sets. What obviously adds to that is their size, their speed and their ability to catch. They’re on opposite sides of the field a lot, which is tough for defenses. I know at times we put them together, which is another way to add something to the defense as far as scheme goes.
“We’re trying to continue to find way to maximize their potential and our potential as a unit and I think they’ve been a big part of what we’ve done in the last couple of weeks.”
So far he has proven why he was picked at Spot No. 7.
Definitely a good pick so far. A lot of our receivers flame out, but this guy looks like a keeper. We need a whole lot of defensive players as good as him. And we need a QB who can throw to him.
Well said Seat27! If we use the first pick next year for a QB as good as Evans we will be set. While the plays Arroyo calls are meant to feature Evans, I think he has done a lousy job of taking advantage of Murphy’s equally good hands and 4.3 speed. One game he needs the QB to throw long to Murphy on a fly route and let him run under it and score. Believe me years ago the OC would pull that and House would outrun the coverage and score on the first play of the game. But that was when our OC was Joe Gibbs who went on to win Super Bowls as HC of the Redskins and now runs a successful NASCAR Race Team. He was the architect of our memorable first playoff win over an Eagles Team that was good enough to win the a Superbowl.
And then today happened.. Dude is a plain beast!
I am so happy to see some of the things that were said by the new regime start to bear a little fruit. I just watched some videos at buccaneers.com. Evans sounds like a rookie with his head screwed on right. Those of you who watched Randy Moss’s career will remember how much he needed Chris Carter as a role model and mentor during his first few years. He may well have been a bust on some other team. He had some “character flaws” not a lack of talent. He was blessed with the time to grow up and have a great career. I am not aware of any such problems with Evans. Go Bucs!!!!
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