When a team is seven games below five hundred and out of the playoff picture, negativity can consume a fan base and team. After all, the Bucs weren't supposed to be this bad in 2014. All is not totally lost though. There have been a few bright spots. Most notably the play of rookie wide receiver Mike Evans. So far the number seven overall pick in this years draft has 39 catches for 585 yards and five scores. Can you imagine what Evans numbers would look like if he was playing with a legitimate starting quarterback?
With his recent play, NFL analysts from around the league are starting to notice. NFL Media senior analyst Gil Brandt thinks Evans is playing at a Pro Bowl level. With fan voting on the 2015 Pro Bowl now open, Brandt decided to discuss 10 rookies who he thinks are having Pro Bowl-caliber debut seasons. Here's what he had to say about Evans, who was ranked fourth on the list. "Evans, who seems to get better every game, is faster than his 40-yard dash (4.53 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine). He's still not an accomplished route runner, but he's improving and learning, rather than simply running out there and trying to be the guy," said Brandt. "His play might be flying a bit below the radar, thanks to the struggles of the 1-8 Buccaneers, but he's shown that his game is about more than size. As would be expected of a guy with his dimensions (6-foot-5, 231 pounds), Evans does, of course, catch slants and use his body to position himself, but he can also go deep. He tracks the ball very well for someone who hasn't played the position at a high competition level for very long."
The three rookies in front of Evans on that list are C.J. Mosley, Zack Martin, and Anthony Barr. Brandt goes on to explain the rankings. "The first three rookies listed have a good chance to be on the Pro Bowl roster; the bottom seven are playing like Pro Bowlers, even if the odds are against them being honored.
It's good to see at least one player recognized positively on the Bucs roster. Evans has made an impact this season. The Bucs need to hit on more draft picks if they are going to turn their franchise around. Getting the Evans pick right was a start in that direction.
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