Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans is PFF’s highest-graded WR this season

Entering Week 13, Buccaneers wideout Mike Evans has out-graded Julio Jones, A.J. Green, and Antonio Brown.

| 7 months ago
Mike Evans

(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans is PFF’s highest-graded WR this season

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans has become one of the league’s most important players. He has been thrown at 127 times this season—10 more targets than any other player—trails only Julio Jones in receiving yardage, and is tied for the league lead with 10 touchdown catches.

This past weekend, Evans became only the second receiver this season to score a touchdown on Seahawks CB Richard Sherman, despite Sherman covering him for much of the game. In fact, going up against Seattle’s defense, Evans still racked up eight catches, 104 yards, and two scores, albeit going against a unit that was without safety Earl Thomas over the middle.

When the Pro Football Focus analysis team visited Bucs camp before the season, Evans—like all the truly great players we saw on the tour—just leapt out compared to his peers. He looked to be on a clearly different level than everyone else around him, and was making spectacular catches for fun during practice.

That has translated to the field this season, and Evans now leads the league in PFF’s receiver rankings, with a grade of 93.2—surpassing Atlanta’s Julio Jones and Cincinnati’s A.J. Green after the latter went down injured.

Top 5 WRs

Evans is a big, physical receiver that can go toe-to-toe with the best defensive backs in the league and win battles—as long as the officials are prepared to let the players compete, and not start throwing flags for any contact. He has only been flagged twice this season, less than most receivers, so that’s not a huge problem holding him back, but they were both on deep passes where he was deemed to be a little too physical for the defensive back trying to cover him, and it does dull his effectiveness if the officials get too eager to throw flags.

The Buccaneers’ passing offense looked formidable when they had a receiving duo of Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, but Jackson’s abilities waned, and he was a shell of himself this season before going down with a knee injury. Evans has had to be the primary receiving weapon for Tampa Bay in the way DeAndre Hopkins was a year ago in Houston, with little help around him to take attention away and produce if he didn’t.

Mike Evans

Like most top receivers, Evans will move around the offense, splitting his time mostly between left and right outside receiver positions, but he has spent around 14 percent of his snaps in the slot, also.

Evans runs a complete route tree, but his money play is the go-route. Those fly patterns account for 27 of his 127 targets this season (21 percent), by far the biggest percentage of his targets; on those routes alone, he has 258 receiving yards (25.3 percent of his total for the season) and four touchdowns.

The Bucs’ No. 1 receiver has been effective on pretty much all routes, but those deep passes are what separates him, as his size, body control, and catch radius allow him to make spectacular receptions over smaller defensive backs and rack up big plays that can impact games.

Mike Evans has become one of the league’s most dominant receivers, and doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN and NBCSports.

  • MH5

    MVP candidate?

    • crosseyedlemon

      I’m pretty certain he has a better chance at MVP than Roberto Aguayo.

    • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

      highly doubtful, no WR ever has won the award, and he’s nowhere near the best single season in history

      • crosseyedlemon

        AP has never chosen a WR as MVP but in 1987 the PFWA named Jerry Rice as the man over John Elway….a decision I’m sure you agree with…lol.

        • https://twitter.com/MALACHiOFCOURSE Malachi

          just don’t remind me of that superbowl too please. lol..

          22 TDs in 12 games is absurd, if a WR can’t win the MVP like that then idk if it will ever happen

  • Dick Butkiss

    It’s a shame there was no targeting call on the play in the .GIF.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Actually I think a no call there was the best decision. Allowing the big hit is sometimes the only way the officials can get the message to a QB that he needs to stop hanging the receiver out to dry and endangering his safety.

    • Chip loves freedom

      its football and a clean hit.

      • crosseyedlemon

        It happened right in front of the Bucs bench and they certainly would have shown a reaction if they thought it was a cheap shot…but they didn’t react at all.

    • Nelson Cobb

      It would have been shame if there was a call. That was a beautiful hit right in the chest, and any contact with his head was incidental. Refs did the right thing keeping their flags in their pockets on that play.

  • popsiclesticks

    That really may be the 5 best overall catches I’ve ever seen in the NFL. At worst, it’s a severely underappreciated grab.