The second NFL ‘Who’s Up Next?’ is another young wide receiver who has all of the talent in the world but needs to learn to catch the football consistently, Mike Evans.
Evans was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He is now entering his third season and is looking to find the end zone more consistently. Though the former Texas A&M standout has eclipsed 1,000 yards in both of his first two NFL seasons, he produced nine less touchdowns last year compared to his rookie campaign.
Part of that comes from the rate at which he drops the football. Though Evans towers over most defensive backs with his 6’5″ height, he led the entire NFL in drops in 2015.
Evans caught only 50.0% of passes thrown his way last year, and dropped 11 total passes. Part of that first number can be attributed to inaccuracy by Jameis Winston, but still. The 23-year-old needs to become more of a magnet for his quarterback.
Despite the drops, Evans was productive last season. He had 1,206 yards in only 15 games. That’s a very impressive figure, but especially so for a receiver in only their second year.
He only scored three touchdowns though, compared to 12 in his rookie year.
His quarterback, Winston, was only a rookie last year. The college-to-NFL transition for him is a significant factor in Evans’ drops and lowered catch percentage.
As the quarterback and receiver get more comfortable together, Evans will likely only get better. He is physical, can catch the ball over anyone in the NFL, and has a good vertical leap. Evans has the talent to develop into a very good possession receiver and red zone threat for the Buccaneers.
If Evans can improve his hands, become more of a refined route runner and return to his former red zone success, he has the potential to be a top-15 wide receiver within three years.