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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

No. 7 pick WR Evans stands out at Bucs rookie camp

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Published:   |   Updated: May 16, 2014 at 07:25 PM

On a field filled with mostly undrafted rookies signed to three-day tryout contracts, you would hope and expect that the guy you drafted seventh overall would stand out from the crowd.

On Friday, during the first day of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie mini-camp, wide receiver Mike Evans did just that.

During the 101st minute of a 120-minute workout, the Bucs’ first-round draft pick cut toward the middle of the field on a deep post pattern, reached out and made a lunging one-handed grab of a 25-yard Brett Smith pass.

It was the one true highlight moment in what was an otherwise mundane afternoon of drill work at One Buc Place, but it wasn’t the only wow moment that the 6-foot-5, 231-pound Evans has turned in since joining the Bucs.

“He’s been doing that all week,’’ Bucs coach Lovie Smith said. “Of course, when you take a player that high in the draft, you expect to see some spectacular plays from him. But we’ve definitely gotten that.’’

The trick now is to get them when it matters most. Few see that being a problem. After all, Evans was the second-ranked wide receiver prospect in a draft class replete with big-play wideouts.

He earned that ranking by making spectacular plays like the one he made Friday during his three-year run as quarterback Johnny Manziel’s top target at Texas A&M, where he was twice named a first-team All-American.

The NFL is a different world, though, one that Evans will have to adjust to quickly if he’s going to live up to the Bucs’ expectations. Already, that adjustment period has been a bit rocky.

After arriving here on Sunday along with most of the Bucs’ other drafted rookies, Evans first took the field alongside the team’s veterans Monday. The first impression he made on his new teammates might not have been a positive one.

“I was a little out of shape, and after the conditioning (work) I threw up,’’ Evans said. “And I was the only person to throw up, too. But I’m getting back in shape now, so I’m good.’’

Evans looked like he was in great shape Friday. During a 7-on-7 drill, he raced down the right sideline and left his defender in the dust with a sharp cut to the middle of the field, where he leaped to make the one-handed grab.

Evans admitted later that he probably has an edge over most of the players in this camp because he spent a few days working with the veterans first. But he also believes he needs to take advantage of that edge.

“Just because I’m a (first-round) draft pick, I still have to go out there and compete just like everybody else,’’ Evans said. “I mean, there’s a lot of talent in college, but there’s obviously a lot more in the NFL.’’

Evans talks as if he’s taken Smith’s first message to the Bucs rookies to heart. Smith says he made it clear to the newcomers that NFL roster spots are hard to win and that you have stand out to earn one.

“I told them that before they even got here we already had a 90-man roster filled,’’ Smith said. “So I let them know that you’re going to have to take someone’s spot to stay here.

“And one of the other things I did Monday was show them the number of (players that) we are going to dress at each position on game days, because the guys need to know that there is competition here.

“So every time that you get a chance to perform, you need to do something better at your position than the next guy. You need to do something that (gets) you noticed. And our first-round draft (pick), today he had that great catch.’’

 

NOTES: TE Austin Seferian Jenkins, the Bucs’ second-round pick, was limited Friday because he is recovering from surgery to repair a stress fracture in his left foot that was discovered during the scouting combine.

♦ The Bucs signed two of their six draft choices, fifth-round Tennessee State guard Kadeem Edwards and sixth-round Wyoming wide receiver Robert Herron, to four-year contracts, the team announced.

♦ The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Brett Smith, a Wyoming product, is the only quarterback in the camp. Lovie Smith said the quarterback assured him before the camp started that he’d be fine making all the throws.

“If you’re an undrafted player coming in here, you do want to show all the coaches what you can do, and what better way to do it than to take every rep out there,’’ Lovie Smith said. “He did decent job performing today.’’

rcummings@tampatrib.com

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Twitter: @RcummingsTBO

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