For an offense ranked 32nd in the NFL last year that traded away its No. 2 receiver this offseason, using their top pick in the draft to add a massive pass-catcher ended up being a no-brainer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bucs reportedly didn't expect Evans to fall to them at No. 7, and despite late rumors that they were targeting Evans' college teammate Johnny Manziel, Jason Licht and Lovie Smith brought the Biletnikoff Award finalist to Tampa Bay.
The #Bucs did not expect WR Mike Evans to be there at 7, so they shifted their mind to defense. Now, Evans is there. So…— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 9, 2014
Vincent Jackson 2.0
From the beginning of the predraft process, Evans has drawn comparisons to Buccaneer WR Vincent Jackson due to his size and physicality. Evans blends a towering frame (6'5", 234 lbs) with exceptional speed for that size.
Though some have wondered why the Bucs would grab basically a carbon copy of Jackson instead of a smaller, faster target to complement him, this pick makes plenty of sense. Jackson is 31 years old, and though he boasts the same impressive size that Evans does, his speed isn't anywhere near Evans' 4.52 40 time.
Grabbing a younger, faster version of Jackson should end up being a very wise decision by the Bucs' new brass, and in the meantime, Josh McCown will get to throw to both of them.
What About "Speed in Space"?
One big reason some thought the Bucs wouldn't take Evans was due to new offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford's expression that he's looking for "speed in space" on offense.
Based on this pick, it looks like the Bucs either have plans to bring in that speed later in the draft, or they're happy with what they currently have on the roster in that department. The depth of this year's receiver class has been well-documented, making it very possible that they could grab a burner later on.
The team also brought in Louis Murphy and Lavelle Hawkins, both of whom bring adequate speed to the table. Bucs fans would also do well to remember that Jeff Demps is back, fully healthy and reportedly committed to football.
One of Tampa Bay's biggest offensive problems in recent memory has been punching it in once it's in the red zone. Adding another massive target at receiver to line up opposite Jackson will make it much more difficult for opposing defenses to defend jump balls and other red-zone routes that will allow the Bucs to take advantage of their superior size on both sides of the field.
Do you like the Bucs' pick of Mike Evans
A team that's had to settle for way too many field goals inside the 20-yard line could see a huge bump in red-zone production this season and beyond with Jackson and Evans lined up across from one another.
The Bottom Line
Evans isn't the burner most Bucs fans might have expected the team to target, but there's no denying the skill set he brings to the table will give the team a much-needed boost at its most glaring need. Having Jackson to learn from won't hurt, and Evans could develop and refine the rest of his skill set before taking over as the No. 1 target down the road.