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Friday, Jun 22, 2018
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Martin Fennelly Columns

Fennelly: Evans out to prove he’s not second-best

Mikey Football?

With the seventh pick of the 2014 NFL draft, the Bucs spoiled the fun.

Or did they?

The name is Mike Evans. He goes and catches them no matter where they are.

He’s a winner, a major talent.

For two seasons at Texas A&M, he grabbed footballs thrown by his friend: Johnny Manziel. Now they’ll be thrown by Bucs QB Josh McCown. And Mike Glennon after that, by the way Bucs coach Lovie Smith frightened us Thursday night.

His name is Mike Evans, not Sammy Watkins.

It’s Mike Evans, not Johnny Manziel.

I’m telling you right now: If Johnny Football goes and takes Cleveland to its first Super Bowl, I’m taking down names.

Maybe the Johnny vapors have affected my brain, but how do you jump up and down, even over Evans’ prodigious 37-inch vertical jump. He might be a home run for the Bucs. But it will be up to him to change minds, like the ones who thought Evans is a big drop-off from Clemson receiver Watkins, or the ones who thought Evans was the second-best player in the A&M offensive huddle.

“We’re going off our opinions, and we felt like he wasn’t,” Bucs GM Jason Licht said.

After all the chatter, all the Johnny Talk and Johnny Buzz, Mike Evans can’t possibly match that excitement, even after the Bucs (and a lot of other clubs) steered clear of Manziel until the Browns finally took him at No. 22, with their second first-round pick.

By the way, the Bucs play at Cleveland in Week 9.

Here’s Mike Evans’ chance to excite us.

The new man is tall, 6-foot-5, just like Vincent Jackson.

“We’ve got the twin towers now,” Licht said.

Lovie, on his 56th birthday, said, “I’ve been accused of wanting defense, defense always, but it takes a lot more than that to win football games. We’ve added a good football player who is going to help us win a lot of football games.”

The Bucs filled a definite need. Evans will go down the field and go up and win a lot of battles. He’s a bear to bring down. In the age of the end zone fade, he could be a perfect fit for the new NFL — and a Bucs offense that ranked last in the league in 2013.

Hey, you start Chris Owusu at No. 2 receiver.

People have wondered if Evans is just a Jackson clone. Do the Bucs really need two of those? Some have questioned Evans’ speed.

“I’ve never been caught from behind, so I’ll let them think about that,” Evans said.

His name is Mike Evans, not Johnny Manziel.

Evans hugged his friend in the draft green room after he was picked.

“Any team that would have gotten Johnny Manziel would have been getting a great player,” Evans said. “I thought he should have gone No. 1.”

Smith was clearly not of that school.

And that’s where Lovie frightened us.

“There are a lot of good players out there, but it’s what’s best for us,” Smith said. “Just talking about our quarterback position: Our quarterback position is as strong, to me, as any quarterback position I’ve had when I’ve been a head coach?”


“You know how much I like Josh McCown as our starter here,” he said. “But I love Mike Glennon. Mike Glennon is our quarterback of the future here, so why would we want to add a third quarterback to the mix?”

Mike Glennon is our quarterback of the future here?

McCown and Glennon — the bridge and the future.

Sleep well, Bucs fans.

Mike Evans can play. I loved watching him go and get Johnny footballs at A&M. We know he can catch. And now we know he can cry. Evans did just that after being selected as he hugged his mother — and his friend the Aggies quarterback.

Maybe Mike Evans will make us forget Johnny Football.

Here’s his chance.

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