The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going with a twin towers look at wide receiver based on their selection of Mike Evans of Texas A & M with the seventh pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. At six feet, five inches tall, Evans will team with Vincent Jackson to give quarterback Josh McCown two rangy targets downfield. Despite the Johnny Manziel misdirection tossed up by the Tampa club, Evans appears to have been their guy all along. The Bucs filled a glaring void with a quality talent.
Evans will need to build on his limited football experience to excel in the NFL. He only started playing football as a senior in high school and came out for the draft after three years in college, one of which was a red shirt year. Playing with Johnny Football, Evans did well at making himself available as the daring QB improvised through plays. At the next level, the young receiver will need to concentrate more on precise routes and progressions based on the defensive coverage. He will need to be a sponge around Vincent Jackson to learn the tricks of the trade.
Tampa only interviewed Evans at the NFL Scouting Combine. They never brought him to Tampa for additional discussion. The team really had no need to follow-up. They had a mole with inside knowledge of Evans’ work ethic and attitude, which are prime determinants of player development and success in the NFL. The Buccaneers new strength and conditioning coach is David Kennedy, who previously held the same job at Texas A & M. Among college coaches, the strength and conditioning coach gets to know the players far better than the head coach and perhaps as much or more than even the assistant coach for the player’s position. They work with the players the entire off-season and get a first-hand glimpse of each player’s attitude and work ethic. The Bucs brain trust merely had to walk down the hall to find out most of the intel they needed regarding Evans.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers new twin towers approach provided by teaming Evans with Jackson mimics the receiver duo Smith put together for the Chicago Bears in his last year with the team. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery provide a dynamic duo of playmakers at the wide receiver position. An additional positive for the team is McCown’s experience last season in his successful stint as replacement starter for the injured Jay Cutler. He did well utilizing the talents of his receiving corps.
Timed at 4.53 in the 40 yard dash at the NFL Draft Combine, Evans does not possess outstanding speed. In all likelihood, he will not consistently achieve great separation from coverage. His learning curve on learning to run precise routes in Jeff Tedford’s scheme. McCown does not have a gun for an arm, so the QB will need to rely on Evans hitting the correct mark each time he runs a pass route. The Buccaneer’s believe that he will adapt well.
In filling their wide receiver need by selecting Mike Evans in the first round of the NFL draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going “all in” on the twin towers approach. Assuming Evans adapts to a more precise NFL style offense, he should be successful from the start. He has all the tools, a well-known conditioning coach and stand out veteran to copy.
Commentary by William Costolo