The Buccaneers roster sports one of the great young stars in the game today. He’s the man on the outside that led the NFL in targets in 2016 with 173. He’s a favorite of Bucs fans near and far, and his name is Mike Evans.
He’s at the forefront of every game the Bucs play, at least on the offensive side of the football. Evans is Jameis Winston‘s favorite target and with good reason. He puts up the big numbers.
But for some reason he doesn’t get the respect that he deserves. We all know this. During the season, I took a look at plays Evans made on the field. Today, we are going inside the numbers.
Just take a look at this past season. In 2016 alone, Evans ranked sixth in receptions (96), fourth in receiving yards (1,321), and tied for second in touchdowns (12). Compare that with a guy that gets all kinds of notoriety, Odell Beckham Jr. In 2016, he posted a mere five more receptions than Evans (101), 46 more yards (1,367), and two less touchdowns (10).
Those are two guys very close in numbers that also happened to come out of the same draft class. However, we hear chapter and verse about Beckham on a daily basis, and nothing on Evans. Oh, I know. Evans spends too much time doing his job and not enough time fighting with kicking nets and punching walls.
It’s just a shame that the guys that are the class acts in the league don’t get the attention they deserve.
Let’s look at Evans’ stats compared to one of his contemporaries. Here comes a stats comparison of two wide receivers in their first three years in the league.
1-238 receptions, 3,578 yards, 27 touchdowns
2-214 receptions, 3,289 yards, 19 touchdowns
One of those lines belongs to Mike Evans, the other belongs to a receiver who gets great respect as one of the NFL’s best. Which would you choose as better? My guess is that you would choose number one, clearly better in each category.
Number one is Evans, and number two is T.Y. Hilton. Hilton is another one of those guys that gets all the press. His highlights are always on, and his name is synonymous with the Colts, almost as much as Andrew Luck. Evans has put up better numbers over his first three years.
Yet, he doesn’t get the national respect. Shameful.
Try these numbers on for size and compare them to Evans:
This next fellow didn’t play much in his rookie year, so we removed that year and looked at his next three. Here is how they lay out:
245 receptions, 3,394 yards, 15 touchdowns
Those numbers, only better in one category, belong to Antonio Brown of Pittsburgh Steelers fame.
Even Beckham’s numbers aren’t vastly better than Evans’:
288 receptions, 4,122 yards, 35 touchdowns
No I am not being naïve and saying that the numbers aren’t better. Of course they are, in all three categories. But are they SO much better that there should be this vast disparity in the amount of respect each player gets? Beckham is treated like the second coming and we hear nothing about Evans. They aren’t that far apart.
Maybe there is a perception about guys playing for the Bucs. It is a smaller market than a place like New York, and Evans might be receiving some sort of stigma with that. It’s hard to say if that is accurate, and it certainly is unfair if it is accurate. But the fact of the matter is, Evans just doesn’t get his just due from the media or anybody else. For our older readers, he’s the Rodney Dangerfield of NFL wide receivers. Kids, ask your parents who that is.
He doesn’t get the respect that he deserves, and the numbers dictate that he absolutely should. Mike Evans deserves national love, and it’s about time he gets it.
Before we go, here is one more set of comparisons for you. First, here are Evans numbers for reference once again:
238 receptions, 3,578 yards, 27 touchdowns
Now here are the first three years for two guys you might be familiar with. First the numbers:
196 receptions, 2,478 yards, 21 touchdowns
200 receptions, 3,575 yards, 40 touchdowns
The top numbers belong to Marvin Harrison. The bottom numbers belong to some guy named Jerry Rice. We know where they both ended up. Mike Evans can hang with both of them, so says the numbers. Just saying.