When Tom Brady signed with the Bucs in 2020, one of the accompanying benefits was more exposure. That didn’t just mean a brighter spotlight for the Tampa Bay area and the Bucs organization, but also increased attention for some of the team’s more overlooked players.

Super Bowl rings are ultimately what every player is after, and the addition of Brady ultimately resulted in every player getting one. But notoriety matters too, doesn’t it? Great players want to be recognized as greats. On that front, a multitude of players have certainly benefitted from the future Hall of Famer’s arrival. That’s what makes any discussion about the most underrated Buc so interesting.

Last week, Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson picked out the most underrated player on every team in the NFL. Interestingly enough, his pick for Tampa Bay was none other than Mike Evans.

“Somehow, despite a record-setting pace of consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to open his NFL career, Evans remains underrated when it comes to the best receivers in the game,” Monson wrote.

At first glance, this pick came as a shock. Evans has gone over 1,000 receiving yards in eight straight seasons to start his career, as Monson said. He is Brady’s No. 1 target. His 2021 season netted him his fourth Pro Bowl selection. It’s not off base to suggest that mostly everyone in the NFL world knows who Evans is.

So, can the 28-year-old really still be underrated? Well, actually, yes.

Evans Belongs In The Conversation Of Elite Receivers

The most important piece of Monson’s explanation is the very end.

“Evans remains underrated when it comes to the best receivers in the game,” he said.

Bucs WR Mike Evans

Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Despite all of the franchise records, the Pro Bowls and the Super Bowl ring, Evans isn’t regularly talked about when a discussion about the NFL’s most elite receivers comes up. Davante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins, Cooper Kupp and Tyreek Hill are among those talked about at that level, but why isn’t Evans? Even PFF’s list of top 25 wide receivers from the 2021 regular season had Evans at No. 21. This was after a regular season that saw the Bucs’ star man catch 74 passes for 1,035 yards (14.0 avg) and 14 touchdowns.

So, yes, it’s still plausible that Evans could be considered underrated. You can’t argue with the volume stats he’s compiled, which give him a strong case to be a future Hall of Famer. Maybe he isn’t racking up All-Pro selections, but that’s due to the sheer number of deserving receivers relative to the small number of spots. Whatever the case may be, until he’s being talked about as one of the game’s most elite players at his position, he probably isn’t getting his proper due.

Is Evans Really The Bucs’ Most Underrated Player?

While we can acknowledge that Evans may still deserve the “underrated” tag, it might be hard to call him the Bucs’ most underrated player. There are a number of guys who could be in the running for that title instead. Carlton Davis III has developed into the team’s No. 1 corner and is a true lockdown guy, but he doesn’t get a lot of love nationally. Given the way he’s played in the last couple of seasons, Donovan Smith could be in the conversation. Even Chris Godwin, who shares the receivers room with Evans, might be on the underrated side of things. But there’s one player on the Bucs’ roster whose name is synonymous with the word “underrated.” That, of course, is Lavonte David.

David Isn’t Properly Rated Nationally, But He’s Loved Locally

Bucs LB Lavonte David

Bucs LB Lavonte David – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

David deserves to be lauded as one of the NFL’s best linebackers. That was true from early in his career and it continues to be true now. On the broadcast of almost every Bucs game, you’ll hear the veteran referred to as a underrated. But how long does he have to be one of the most underrated players in the NFL before he gets the recognition he deserves?

He made the PFWA All-Rookie Team in 2012, then earned an All-Pro nod in 2013. Since then, he received just one Pro Bowl selection, and that came in 2015. Every year, he feels worthy of a spot on the Pro Bowl roster, yet it just doesn’t come. He did earn a spot on the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2010s, but he simply hasn’t gotten enough love over the years. Now, at 32, he might start to decline. That makes it all the more frustrating that he was never properly rated during his prime.

If there’s anything to cling to, it’s that David isn’t underrated among Bucs fans and media. He always gets his props from the fan base and anyone who watches him on a weekly basis. One day, he’ll retire and have his name placed in the Bucs Ring of Honor inside Raymond James Stadium. He’ll also always have that Super Bowl LV ring. And he’ll absolutely have the adoration from the fan base that watched him go from 2012 second-round pick to the best player on a bad defense to, eventually, a champion and Bucs legend.

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About the Author: Bailey Adams

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Bucsjunkie
Bucsjunkie
1 month ago

Absolutely worthy article on both players, and agreed, Lavonte has to be the most underrated player on our team, and possibly the NFL.

fredster
fredster
1 month ago

Donovan Smith? Give me a damn break please. He’s not as bad as some say but he’s far from consistent great LT too. Unbelievable. Evans and David I can get on board with.

danielob
danielob
Reply to  fredster
1 month ago

Agree on Donovan Smith.” Sorry, Tom, here, let me help you up!”

Captain Sly
Captain Sly
1 month ago

You guys are waay off base on D Smith. Left Tackles who can lace’em up every week & play on every down don’t just grow on trees ya know. Your comments are exactly why D Smith is the most underrated Buc ever. Even with his own home fan base they still don’t get it. But Jason Licht gets it, Tom Brady gets it, the Bucs get it and that is why he’ll retire as the greatest LT in Bucs history, with all due respect to Mr Gruber!

Captain Sly
Captain Sly
Reply to  Captain Sly
1 month ago

I will just add before you disagree name me three LT’s in Bucs history that have been better. Jeopardy Music Playing!!!!

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  Captain Sly
1 month ago

I disagree that he’s generally underrated. I think he’s generally seen as an overall good, reliable LT. Which is what he is. He’s not an awesome player, not nearly a dominant force. He still makes too many glaring mistakes to be classified that way. Certainly didn’t help that he was beaten soundly enough against the Rams last season to play a MASSIVE role in Brady being under duress all game, playing a huge role in our season ending loss. We could definitely do worse, no question. And overall, he’s finally gotten to a quality level as a player that I’m… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Captain Sly
1 month ago

Totally agree Captain. Folks need only to pay close attention to other LT’s and see how they fare. Gruber was a great and very unrecognized player. I might throw Donald Penn in there as a quality LT from our past.

Donkey_Hunter
Donkey_Hunter
Reply to  Captain Sly
1 month ago

Lol Smith being the “most underrated Buc ever”.

plopes808
plopes808
1 month ago

David is by far the most underrated player on the team. One could also argue that the entire offense (aside from the GOAT of course) is underrated. I have consistently seen the national media and talking heads give Brady all the credit for the team’s recent success. Everyone seems to forget that the reason Brady came to Tampa was the roster that already existed there.

scubog
scubog
1 month ago

As much as the current Bucs are in the national spotlight, it’s disappointing that more of our players aren’t considered among the best. Seems to me they just aren’t flamboyant enough to get the media attention. Evans came into the league with OBJ and has far exceeded him on the field. Yet it’s the one-catch wonder who continues to get undue attention. LVD never seeks out the media, thus he remains the quiet assassin. Causes a lot of fumbles, but would probably get noticed a little more with INT’s and sacks.

Horse
Horse
1 month ago

I don’t see Evans as underrated; just some other special players noted before him. He will make it to the HOF, but it will take awhile to get there. I would put Mike into the Mr Reliable arena.

Captain Sly
Captain Sly
Reply to  Horse
1 month ago

Of course Big Mike’s not underrated! Not sure why anybody who follows the team would even think such a thing. Even around the league He’s voted as one of the NFL’s top 100 players every year and is the Face of the Bucs franchise. And yes I agree horse that he’ll eventually get into the hall just not 1st ballot

Spitfire
Spitfire
1 month ago

I think Evans for some reason just gets taken for granted. Yes he was Winston’s favorite target, along with Brate, which is why he got so many yards, but when everyone on and off the field knows you’re gonna get the ball and you still manage to go out and rack up the yards that is even more admirable. We worry so much about who is #2 and #3 so Evans isn’t talked about as much but the guy just continues to go out and be reliable and consistent (outside of a couple games a year against the Saints). David… Read more »

Eddie
Eddie
1 month ago

“…..Donovan Smith could be in the conversation”, that is so funny. The LT with the slowest feet. Will get Brady kill if tight end help is not there against quick DE.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
1 month ago

Evans is an interesting answer, and I definitely see that argument. We saw last year what Evans would be if he wasn’t surrounded by other elite receiving weapons – when Godwin and Brown were absent from the offense to close the year, he predictably exploded – 6 receptions for 89 yards and 2 TDs against Carolina to close the regular season. 9 receptions for 110 yards and a score in the first round against PHI. Capped off by a roasting of Jalen Ramsay, the consensus best corner in football, to the tune of 8 receptions for 116 yards and another… Read more »

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
1 month ago

And yea, Lavonte is the easy choice, for sure. He’s the best overall LB of his generation as far as I’m concerned – better straight up than Wagner, and just marginally behind Kuechly when they were both playing, BUT I’d easily take 11+ seasons of Lavonte (missing 12 total games over that entire time) at the level at which he’s played over the 8 years (with 10 missed games) Kuechly put up. He should be nearly as decorated as Brooks was back in his day, a shoo-in first ball Hall of Famer. Instead, he’s decidedly unlikely to ever make the… Read more »

Dave
Dave
1 month ago

You can argue either way on Evans, David, or Godwin. But stop it with this D.Smith crap though. Ok, so I’ll start with Evans. If you survey 100 people, about who the top 10 WR’s are, I bet you at least half wouldn’t have Evans on their list. And that’s insane. Anything less than 90 out of 100 is criminal. I’ll tell you exactly why he’s never viewed as elite. For a couple reasons. 1) he’s always been a Buc and on losing teams. And 2) every year there’s always a handful of WR’s that have all pro caliber seasons.… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave
JC5100
JC5100
1 month ago

Article and comments prove Will Gholston is the most underrated player in franchise history.