The 2014 NFL draft class has been pretty good early on, but one group stands out above all the others: the wide receivers. They've been surprisingly dominant, given the fact that most rookie receivers struggle as rookies. It took Vincent Jackson four years to find his stride for instance.
And according to NumberFire's Net Expected Points metric, Mike Evans is the best of the lot -- at least so far. Intriguingly, Mike Evans is actually at the top of two metrics: net expected points per target, and target net expected points. His catch rate is also close to the top of the group, with only Brandin Cooks (with his many screen passes) and Jarvis Landry being ranked higher.
But we don't need to go to advanced metrics to make this point. Evans leads all rookie receivers in receiving yards with 841, despite missing one game (and a few quarters) with injury. He's tied for the touchdown lead with Kelvin Benjamin, both having caught eight. He's second in yards per reception, behind only Taylor Gabriel, and three yards per reception ahead of number three Odell Beckham Jr.
That's not to take anything away from Odell Beckham Jr. and his penchant for brilliant catches. The rookie missed most of the season with an injury, but has been brilliant since making his debut. The Bucs certainly could have taken Beckham Jr. instead of Mike Evans, simply because Evans is more similar to Jackson. But I don't think we can complain about Evans' development, exactly.
It'll be fascinating to see how this group of receivers develops going forward. Sammy Watkins has slowed down a little in recent weeks, but he still looks like he'll be a very good player. Kelvin Benjamin has been really good, if inconsistent -- which is exactly what he was in college, too. And then there are players like Brandin Cooks and
Now we only need to get Mike Evans to not fall into the same trap that Michael Clayton, Cadillac Williams and Doug Martin fell into. Having a skill-position player who's good for more than a single season might be amusing.