The NFL featured a stunning collection of rookie receivers this year. The NFL draft was filled with quality pass-catchers, ranging from Sammy Watkins to Brandin Cooks to Jordan Matthews, Kelvin Benjamin and Jarvis Landry. And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked up the second receiver drafted this year in Mike Evans -- and he may very well be the best of all those receivers.
An updated look at the rookie WR class pic.twitter.com/NBsujrqx4Z— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) November 13, 2014
So Pro Football Focus thinks Mike Evans has overall been the best rookie receiver in the NFL this year, although Odell Beckham Jr. has actually been better on a per-game basis. It's also somewhat interesting that despite all of the hype for Kelvin Benjamin, he's at the bottom of that table.
Of course, PFF isn't gospel. Their grades are as fallible as any group of grades, but Evans has clearly been very good the past couple of games, and extraordinarily consistent as the only rookie to have caught at least four passes in each of his games. It just took Evans a little while to become dominant.
That's easily explained, too. In college, Evans ran about three different routes (go, post and comeback), and stuck exclusively to the right side of the field. You could see the talent, the soft hands, the speed and the size -- but you didn't see sophisticated route-running or any kind of versatility. He was a deep receiver, and that was about it.
So it was naturally going to take him a while to adjust to the NFL, especially in an offense where he would be asked to line up all over the formation. He's basically been everywhere except in the backfield, and he's run a variety of routes. He's had to become much more versatile, and he's had to become familiar and comfortable with NFL concepts.
That takes a while for any rookie receiver. It's why the average first-round receiver manages around 750 receiving yards as a rookie. Evans is on pace to shatter that mark, especially if his recent games are a better indicator of his future production.