The Tampa Bay Buccaneers want a wide receiver, and Mike Evans is the selection for the Bucs in most mock drafts. But does he even fit the team, which is looking for speed in space?
Why he's a realistic option
Sammy Watkins is the consensus top receiver in the 2014 NFL Draft, but he's likely to be off the board by the time the Tampa Bay Buccaneers get to their pick. Mike Evans, though, is almost certainly going to be available (barring trade shenanigans, or the Raiders falling in love with him), and will be one of the best available players for the Bucs if they stay at number seven.
Moreover, the Bucs have a massive need at wide receiver after trading Mike Williams to the Buffalo Bills. Right now, they have Vincent Jackson...and that's about it. Louis Murphy and Chris Owusu are hardly reliable, and the Bucs need more targets for Josh McCown, or whoever else is going to start at quarterback. Evans would fill that need and should be productive immediately. He'd also help the Bucs replicate last year's Chicago Bears offense, with its pair of huge starting wideouts which helped Josh McCown thrive.
Why he fits the Buccaneers
Drafting a Vincent-Jackson-clone like Mike Evans would make sense. Having two massive, big-bodied receivers will help any quarterback -- especially ones with accuracy issues. Evans would also give the Bucs an obvious heir apparent to Jackson, who turned 31 this year and is playing under a massively expensive contract. He won't be around forever.
There's another argument to be made that Mike Evans really doesn't fit the Bucs, because he's too similar to Vincent Jackson. He's not the explosive, run-after-catch receiver that could flourish in Jeff Tedford's screen-heavy offense. Moreover, it would give the Bucs two huge, deep receiving threats on the outside, but would leave them without a genuine underneath threat.
Some of those concerns may not be concerns for the Bucs. Evans is a lot like Vincent Jackson, but he's also faster and a little more explosive (he ran a 4.53 40-yard dash at the combine). And the Chicago Bears have shown that you don't necessarily need an underneath threat to be effective on those short passes, either: Marc Trestman loves those receiver screens, too.
Ultimately, whether Evans will really be the Bucs' pick will depend on how seriously they take the "speed in space" mantra, how they see big-bodied receivers, and what they think of other prospects (and trade offers) available instead.
What others say about him
Basically this guy is a create-a-player on a Madden video game. I know he has been compared a lot to Vincent Jackson, but I actually saw a lot of Terrell Owens (in various ways) in Evans watching these five games. He runs well after the catch, he blocks his ass off, he goes up and gets the ball and he wins most of his one-on-one matchups. The Jackson comparisons also seemed to have been somewhat of a pejorative, referencing the Vincent Jackson of late who gets caught from behind. However, if you remember the young Vincent Jackson out in San Diego, that comparison is more apt and actually a good thing.
Evans grades out as one of the ten best players in the draft on our latest big board. He's the type of receiver who instantly makes his quarterback better. The skills he used to make plays in college all translate to the NFL. He already learned how to win when he wasn't the fastest player on the field. That's only going to help him as he transitions to the NFL and learns how to use his physical tools to out-muscle defensive backs for passes.
Evans is a terrific big-bodied receiver with intriguing potential. He has the size and physical dimensions that NFL coaches covet, with an emerging game that could make him a potential No. 1 receiver at the next level. Evans still must smooth out some of the rough spots in his game to earn a spot among the top-tier receivers in the college game, but his breakout performance against Alabama has certainly created a buzz in NFL circles.