While some were skeptical that he'd even still be on the board by the time the Bucs went on the clock, Tampa Bay lucked out by landing the 2014 draft classes' second best player at their position of biggest need - Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans. The draft is only 14% completed, but that doesn't prevent the media from already putting the NFL's newest 32 players through the analysis wringer. Let's take a look at what reactions - and those meaningless-but-endlessly-fascinating draft grades - the Bucs' pick drew from assorted pundits.
First up, we have to keep things in-house. Bucs Nation head honcho Sander gave a concise appraisal of what Evans brings to the team:
While he isn't the fastest receiver, his stride length allows him to consistently get behind defensive backs, and he uses his big body well to consistently win jump balls. While he's not the explosive, yards-after-catch receiver the Bucs ideally want, he'll be a very productive receiver for them, provide an instant boost to their offense, and could be the future replacement for Vincent Jackson.
Our Leo Howell then immediately dived in with some deeper analysis, grading not just the pick in general, but grading various aspects of the selection - talent, value, and fit. Overall though, Leo gave the selection a grade of B-, concluding:
The value wasn't great, and the pick seems a bit boring, but Evans was a wise and reasonable choice for Jason Licht and his team. The Buccaneers needed a receiver, and they addressed that need with a player who is arguably the best at his position in this draft.
However, the Bucs Nation readership disagreed with Leo's grade, with 50% of you giving the pick an 'A' (with 12% giving the selection a 'C' grade or lower).
Over at SB Nation headquarters, NFL Draft Editor Matthew Fairburn gave the Bucs an A, noting the only question regarding the selection is over the similarity between Evans and Vincent Jackson. Fairburn believes that
Evans and Jackson will be a tough pair of receivers to cover. Outside of Jackson, the Buccaneers didn't have much in the way of weapons for Josh McCown to work with.
Moving outside of the sphere of SB Nation, CBS's resident contrarian Pete Prisco makes an out-of-character moveby agreeing with the general consensus of the Evans pick, giving the move a B+. Prisco says that the Bucs
were scared he wouldn't be there. They had to get a playmaker opposite Vincent Jackson.
Bleacher Report's Scott Polacek gave the Bucs an A, saying the move gives the Bucs a "one-two punch", while BR's NFL Lead Writer Michael Schottey agrees with his colleague on the grade, but throws out a comment that might give some Bucs fans pause for thought:
Some have a lingering suspicion that Johnny Manziel made Evans more than the other way around and Josh McCown isn't exactly Johnny Football. How will Evans' game adapt without consistent downfield lobs?
The next grade comes courtesy of widely detested troll self-styled draft analyst Walter Cherepinsky, who gives the pick an A-, and says the Bucs managed to get
great value with a receiver projected to be the next Vincent Jackson. How will the NFC South teams deal with two Vincent Jacksons?
The final grade is from NFL.com's Bryan Fischer, who claims to have given each team a 'quick-snap' grade. Only problem is, instead of grading on a scale of A-F, his grading categories are: "Passed with flying colors", "General Manager gets a sticker", "Good pick, good fit", "Good job, good effort", "Sorry, Charlie", and "Try again". Jason Licht will be very proud of his shiny new sticker, I'm sure. Fischer echoes many of the common sentiments on the night:
The team had a massive need for a wide receiver after the Mike Williams trade, and they found a fantastic replacement to pair with Vincent Jackson. Good luck with this pair, defensive backs.
Moving away from grades, ESPN's Bucs blogger Pat Yasinskas called the move an "excellent 'need' pick", adding
This move isn't just about the present. It's about the future as well. Jackson already is in his 30s. Evans can spend a year or two as the No. 2 receiver and then take over as the No. 1.
ProFootballFocus' Steve Palazzolo pointed out the site's live blog of the draft that while Evans is often pegged as a V-Jax clone, that's not necessarily a bad thing for the Bucs:
Jackson was the only Tampa Bay receiver with a positive grade a year ago, so look for Evans to step right in on the other side.
Finally, Rotoworld's Adam Levitan said that it was the pick with the most "instant fantasy impact":
He has an extremely clear path to targets opposite Vincent Jackson, has a prototypical NFL frame at 6'5/231 and will benefit from the regime change in Tampa. Everyone is starting from square one under Lovie Smith. Josh McCown, who went off while throwing to "twin towers" Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery last year, has similar weapons for 2014.
To recap, here's your draft grades for the Bucs' selection of Mike Evans:
Bucs Nation's Leo Howell: B-
Bucs Nation readers: A
SB Nation's Matthew Fairburn: A
CBS's Pete Prisco: B+
Bleacher Report's Scott Polacek: A
Bleacher Report's Michael Schottey: A
WalterFootball's Walter Cherepinsky: A-
NFL.com's Bryan Fischer: a sticker for Jason Licht.
Finally, here's how some of the Bucs' players reacted to the pick:
Happy to welcome fellow Texas native and newest Buc @MikeEvans13_ Time to go to work! #NFLDraft— Josh McCown (@JoshMcCown12) May 9, 2014
Welcome home @MikeEvans13_— Steve Means (@MeansBusiness96) May 9, 2014
Congrats to @MikeEvans13_ Another great product of the Lonestar state! Welcome to the Bucs!— Skye Dawson (@SkyeDawson_) May 9, 2014
@MikeEvans13_ congrats bra n welcome ...— Akeem spence (@AkeemSpence) May 9, 2014
Welcome to Tampa @MikeEvans13_ #itsabucslife— Mike G (@Mike_Glennon) May 9, 2014
@MikeEvans13_ Congrats & Welcome big dawg!! Let's have some fun! #BucNation— VJ (@VincentTJackson) May 9, 2014
Welcome @MikeEvans13_— Tom Crabtree (@itsCrab) May 9, 2014
The pick is in. Mike Evans!! The fans love it!! I'm excited!! It's about to be fun!! http://t.co/kEFNZVTaJX— Gerald McCoy (@Geraldini93) May 9, 2014
@MikeEvans13_ What up doe!?! Yeaaa boy!! Welcome to the good side!! #bucnation loves you bruh!! Glad we got you. ITS ON!! You bout to ball!!— Gerald McCoy (@Geraldini93) May 9, 2014
@MikeEvans13_ congrats bro lets go get this championship!— Johnthan Banks (@JBanks_27) May 9, 2014
@MikeEvans13_ lets go to work !!!! Congrats bro see ya Monday morning with Starbucks jk jk jk #enjoyyournight— Da'Quan Bowers (@DaQuanBowers91) May 9, 2014
Last but not least, here's the first tweet (after the obligatory sponsored tweets for Tide and Old Spice) from the man himself after getting drafted:
Love my brothers @JManziel2 and @jake_matthews75 3 Aggies 1st rd what a blessing. Good luck to the rest of my teammates! O yea Go Bucs!— Mike Evans (@MikeEvans13_) May 9, 2014