When Mike Evans caught 68 passes for 1,051 yards in 2014, he was not the first rookie in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history to record a 1,000-yard receiving season. Michael Clayton took that honor in 2004. However, Evans did break new ground when he caught nine passes for 157 yards in the Buccaneers loss in St. Louis on Thursday night.
That impressive performance pushed Evans' 2015 receiving yardage total to 1,046, making him the first Buccaneer ever to start his career with two 1,000-yard seasons. As it turns out, however, that feat is more impressive when compared to the league at large. See, Evans is just the eighth player in NFL history to start his career with consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons.
Evans and contemporary Odell Beckham of the New York Giants – the seventh and 12th players picked in the 2014 draft, respectively – both joined that list this year. It is an impressive group of names, presented below in reverse chronological order.
NFL Players with 1,000+ Receiving Yards in Each of Their First Two Seasons
** Through 14 games
There are, of course, other outstanding receivers who piled up big numbers in their first two seasons without hitting the 1,000-yard mark in one of the two, such as G.O.A.T. Jerry Rice. Rice had 2,497 yards over his first two NFL seasons, fourth-most in league history. Beckham needs just 26 more yards in the next two weeks to pass Moss (2,726) for the most in his first two seasons, but Evans is setting a fine pace, as well. His 2,097 receiving yards so far is already the 16th-highest total in league history through a player's first two years. Because he's missed a couple games due to injury, Evans has amassed that total in 28 total games, averaging just under 75 yards per outing. If he were to match that pace over the final two weeks – in other words, get 150 more yards and push his two-season total to 2,247, he would move all the way up to ninth place on the list. In the process, he would pass Andre Johnson (2,118), Julio Jones (2,157), Larry Fitzgerald (2,189), Gary Clark (2,191), Sterling Sharpe (2,214), Hayes (2,235) and Colston (2,240). *That is an impressive list.
Merely getting past 1,000 in consecutive years, regardless of where it falls within one's career, is a relatively rare achievement for a Buccaneer receiver. Evans is only the fourth player in team history to do so; his teammate, Vincent Jackson had three consecutive 1,000-yard campaigns from 2012-14, and Joey Galloway did the same from 2005-07. Keyshawn Johnson did it two years in a row from 2001-02.*
Evans' 157 yards against the Rams tied for the 19th-most in a single game by a Buccaneer. Evans now owns four of the 24 150-yard receiving games in franchise annals, which ties for the franchise lead in that category. The only other Buccaneer with four 150-yard receiving games is Evans' teammate, Vincent Jackson. Galloway is next on the list with three such outings. Mark Carrier, Bruce Hill and Kevin House, with two each, are the only other players to appear on the list multiple times.*
Since he was drafted by the Buccaneers in 2014, Evans has hit the 150-yard mark more often than all but one other player in the NFL. Atlanta's Julio Jones has six such outings in that span, but behind him only Evans and two others have as many as four.
Most 150+-Yard Receiving Games, NFL, 2014-15
- Julio Jones
2t. Mike Evans
2t. T.Y. Hilton
2t. Jeremy Maclin
5t. Odell Beckham
5t. Antonio Brown
5t. DeAndre Hopkins
5t. Calvin Johnson
5t. Demaryius Thomas
5t. Sammy Watkins
Evans has a total of eight 100-yard games in less than two seasons, which is already sixth-most in franchise history. His rate of one 100-yard game for every 3.5 games played is the best mark in team history. Only Antonio Bryant (one very 4.14 games) is particularly close.
- WR Mark Carrier
- WR Kevin House
- WR Vincent Jackson
4t. WR Joey Galloway
4t. WR Keyshawn Johnson
6. WR Mike Evans
7t. WR Antonio Bryant
7t. TE Jimmie Giles
- WR Keenan McCardell
10t. WR Horace Copeland
10t. WR Bruce Hill
Evans is averaging 15.8 yards per reception, a slight uptick from his mark of 15.5 as a rookie. Only six other players in the NFL had an average of at least 15 yards per catch last year and are on pace to duplicate that feat in 2015. Among those seven, only two have more overall receptions in 2014-15 than Evans:
T.Y. Hilton IND
As a kid, Evans was a huge fan of Randy Moss, the big-play receiver for Minnesota, Oakland and New England (and, briefly, Tennessee and San Francisco). It's fitting then that Evans has now joined Moss as the only players in NFL history to record two 1,000-yard receiving seasons before they turned 23.
Evans caught two passes for 50 yards on the fourth-quarter drive that ended in Luke Stocker's three-yard touchdown catch. That march covered 98 yards, tying for the longest drive in franchise history, in terms of yards. There have been four 98-yard drives, all resulting in touchdowns, in team history, and strangely all occurred on December 17 or later. The other three drives on the list occurred vs. Seattle on Dec. 26, 2010, at New Orleans on Dec. 27, 2009 and vs. Carolina on Dec. 30, 2007.
The Bucs had never before covered 98 yards on four plays or fewer. Not surprisingly, that's a relatively rare feat around the NFL as a whole. Pro Football Reference has all NFL drives charted back through 1998, and in that 18-year span there have been a total of 17 drives that covered at least 98 yards in four plays or fewer, and the Buccaneers are the first team to do it in four years. The last such drive was accomplished by the San Diego Chargers – 99 yards on four plays – at Oakland on January 1, 2012.