Who’s the best player under 25? ESPN’s Mike Sando wanted to answer this question and did what he did: spoke to some “NFL talent evaluators”, and compiled their opinions into a ranking. That ranking has Mike Evans at number eleven, and no other Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the top 25.
Evans ranks among the NFL's all-time top 10 in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns before age 25. He will not turn 25 until the offseason, putting him in position to climb well within the top five in those categories. Evans' statistical production has slumped this season, and might not fully recover given quarterback Jameis Winston's injury situation. It's just tough to argue with his production through three-plus seasons.
It’s also pretty tough to argue with his quality of play, which is consistently good. He’d be even higher on these rankings if Jameis Winston was better at deep throws, though Evans hardly has cause to complain with the amount of balls he’s caught off Winston’s arm.
Speaking of Winston, him not being in the top 25 (he’s an honorable mention) is a massive mistake. It’s hard to remember, but prior to his last two injury-marred games he was playing like a top ten quarterback. Yes, he needs to work on his deep balls, and he turns over the ball a little too much, but he was having a very strong season: more accurate, more productive, and better decision making than in any of his prior years. The injury shouldn’t take away from that.
The Bucs having just one player on this list is pretty disappointing, too. It’s not so long ago that they dominated lists like this, starting in 2010 with Mike Williams, Legarrette Blount and Josh Freeman, and recurring every season since with different players. Now it’s just Mike Evans and Jameis Winston—and maybe Kwon Alexander and Ali Marpet should’ve been on that list, too. But that’s probably it: the Bucs’ pipeline of young talent isn’t as well-filled as it could be.