The evening started out with wide receiver Chris Godwin as the first Buccaneer to crack the top 40 at number 38 on Tuesday night of the NFL Top 100 reveal special. In his breakout season, Godwin caught 86 passes for 1,333 yards and a team-leading nine touchdowns last year. It earned him the recognition of his peers in his third campaign as he became the second Buccaneer on the list.
His 1,333 yards in 14 games gave him the third-most of any player in the league last year. His nine touchdowns tied for fourth. He's now widely regarded as a top 10 receiver and his position flexibility makes him conducive to consistent production. With new quarterback Tom Brady under center, Godwin is likely to enjoy yet another successful year as part of the best wide receiver tandem in the NFL, along with teammate Mike Evans. More on him later.
Outside linebacker Shaq Barrett was next on the list, coming in at number 32 after leading the league in sacks last season. His 19.5 quarterback takedowns broke a franchise record set by Warren Sapp and his 9.0 sacks in the first four games tied an NFL record for most in such a span. In addition to being 2019's sack king, he also tied for the most quarterback hits with 37 and recorded the second-most tackles for loss with 19. Oh, and he forced the third-most fumbles of any player, just for good measure. It came during his first season as a starter and first season with the Buccaneers, which culminated in his first Pro Bowl nod, as well.
And now for more on Mike Evans. A year after Evans was the one of only two Bucs' representatives on this list, the Bucs' receiver landed at number 30, up from his previous ranking at 53, after a 2019 campaign that saw him surpass 1,000 yards for the sixth-consecutive time. He's just the second player in NFL history to do so. The other? Evans' idol, Randy Moss. Evans finished one touchdown behind Godwin with eight, but also missed the last three games of the season due to a hamstring injury. It kept him from playing in the Pro Bowl after earning his second-straight selection.
Where Evans really excels is quality of work. His 17.3 yards per reception average ranks him in the top 10 among all qualified receivers and in the top five of receivers that also tallied over 1,000 yards. Simply, Evans doesn't need a lot to do a lot. That and his consistency has made him one of the best receivers in the league and the other half of the best wide receiver tandem in the league, which oh by the way is now at Tom Brady's disposal.
Speaking of Tom Brady, he rounds out the Buccaneer representatives, coming in at No. 14. Brady has ranked as high as number one on this list (multiple times), so top 15 may just be another little chip to add on his shoulder. Not that the greatest quarterback of all time needs a chip, of course. Brady's 2019 season in New England, while nothing to snuff at, was a bit of a downturn compared to his usual production. It was largely due to a lack of supporting cast around him and is likely why Brady's ranking took that hit from number six. However, the lack of supporting cast isn't anything Brady needs to worry about any longer and you don't need to look further than the last few spots on this list to see that.