The Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the first time in their history selected a wide receiver in the top 10 of the NFL draft. Mike Evans comes with very high expectations, but those expectations probably aren't warranted: rookie receivers don't tend to do very much, despite several analysts proclaiming them Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates.
My WAY too early pick for offensive rookie of the year: TB WR Mike Evans— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) May 31, 2014
Reasons why Evans will win ORoY
- He's big, physical, and excels at making contested catches, all traits that should help him be productive early. He doesn't need to understand all the nuances of the game and adjust his routes to coverage looks to be able to do what he did in college: get down the field and out-fight players for the ball.
- Vincent Jackson should take most of the attention away from Evans, which should allow the rookie the freedom to excel.
- There's a lot of competition at the wide receiver position, but almost no competition from running backs.
Reasons why Evans won't win ORoY
- The last time a receiver won Offensive Rookie of the Year was 2009, when Percy Harvin won it mostly because he was a receiver. The past 20 years, just three receivers have won the award: Randy Moss, Anquan Boldin and Harvin. Calvin Johnson didn't win it. Andre Johnson didn't win it. Larry Fitzgerald didn't win it. Julio Jones and A.J. Green didn't win it.
- Vincent Jackson will be the primary target in an offense that's supposed to focus on the running game. With Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Robert Herron, Charles Sims, Louis Murphy, Tim Wright and Brandon Myers all vying for targets, too, there's a solid chance Evans simply won't see a ton of passes go his way.
- Jeff Tedford's offense is complicated, relying on a lot of motions, shifts and versatility. Meanwhile, Mike Evans in college almost exclusively lined up on the right side, and ran about three different routes. He has a ton of catching up to do, which does not bode well for his ability to make an early impact.
Don't mistake a possible lack of early impact for a poor draft pick, however. It simply takes receivers a while to adjust to the NFL game. Vincent Jackson caught just three passes as a rookie. The average first-round receiver notches about 500 yards as a rookie. The same is true for top 10 receivers. An early impact would be a big bonus, but it's not to be expected.