Mike Evans is one of the most dominant receivers in the 2014 NFL draft class. The Texas A&M star has been rapidly soaring up the big boards this offseason and is looking more likely than ever to land inside the top 10 on Thursday.
It appears to be a two-man race for the top receiver off the board between Evans and Sammy Watkins of Clemson, as both project to be superstars at the next level and proved themselves during strong collegiate careers.
Let’s take a look at a couple of likely destinations for Evans to land on May 8, highlighting the best and worst teams the massive wideout could start his NFL career with.
Best-Case Scenario: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 7
The Bucs are in dire need of a pass-catcher, and there is no better player for their system than Evans. Watkins will more than likely be off the board by this selection, and that would make the pick a no-brainer.
New head coach Lovie Smith has already brought in a temporary stopgap at the quarterback position in Josh McCown—who is coming off a renaissance season for the Chicago Bears—and needs to surround the aging veteran with more talent in order to push the Bucs into contention.
Evans would be the ideal option to line up across from Vincent Jackson, especially after the defection of Mike Williams to the Buffalo Bills. He would give the club another big weapon to use down in the red area and to help move the chains, but he’s also more than athletic enough to break home run plays and is dangerous all over the field.
A former SEC and Big 12 coach gave the scouting report on Evans by comparing his size and skill set to a potential future teammate in Vincent Jackson and likened his competitive fire to former teammate Johnny Manziel, as per ESPN Insider Field Yates (subscription required):
He's faster than quick, he has the ability to play more than one position. He's a strong run-after-the-catch guy, and I think ball-skills-wise, he is elite. If you throw it to him, he extends his hands and plucks. Ultra competitive. Comparable to Johnny Manziel in terms of competitiveness.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller believes this is a perfect match after pouring over the various ways the opening picks in the first round could shake out:
ESPN’s pair of gurus also believe Tampa could be interested in the Aggies wideout, as both Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have him coming off the board at No. 7 overall, as per the Bucs’ official Twitter account:
All signs point to this being a perfect pairing, and it appears very likely to happen in the coming days.
Worst-Case Scenario: Oakland Raiders at No. 5
The Raiders are supposed to be rebuilding right now but are coming out of an offseason where they inked a handful of aging veterans to contracts.
One of those deals was for quarterback Matt Schaub, who had a miserable season for the abysmal Houston Texans and will now be tasked with turning around one of the most dysfunctional franchises in recent NFL history.
It isn’t looking good for Oakland, and the club is likely to suffer through yet another ugly campaign. Unfortunately for Evans, he may be thrust into this situation and thrown to the wolves early in his career.
While the massive wideout definitely has the skills to improve the Raiders receiving corps, he’s going to fail to meet expectations if the play under center is subpar and the offensive line struggles to protect Schaub.
Evans has to be hoping and crossing his fingers that the Raiders go in a different direction this Thursday. The team is simply not an ideal landing destination and will likely make his initial years in the league nearly unbearable.