Coach shares insights on Evans' strengths, progress
Among those celebrating with receiver Mike Evans in the green room at Radio City Music Hall after the Bucs took him with the No. 7 pick was David Beaty, his receivers coach the last two years at Texas A&M.
Beaty -- seen here with the proud prospect -- spoke with the Times about the Bucs' new star rookie, his strengths and what he's done in the past year to become an All-American receiver, catching 12 touchdown passes from Johnny Manziel as a redshirt sophomore. He's a huge target at 6-foot-5 and 231 pounds, but Beaty said there's much to like about Evans that can't be seen in his highlight tapes ...
-- Beaty says the key to Evans' improvement from his redshirt freshman year in 2012 to this past season started with improved flexibility, something he identified as a key area to focus on last offseason.
"He understood that even though he had a very productive year, with over 80 catches his first year, that he still had a lot to improve on, with getting better at the craft of being a receiver," Beaty said. "Things like route running, pad level, bent knees, things like that. He's got a huge frame, and guys like that tend to be stiff. He had to address his flexibility and he worked his tail off throughout the summer. Without that flexibility improving, the other things, they simply won't improve."
-- Another key to his improvement in the last year: finding an optimal weight. Beaty said Evans was closer to 240 pounds his first year, and he got himself down to 228-230 pounds last fall and it made a big difference.
"He read an article about Larry Fitzgerald, talking about optimal weight," he said, "how he played his best when he got to a certain weight. He could tell a difference. I think that article really had an impact on him. That's one thing I love about this kid: He's such a pro that he thinks about things that others don't. He really does a good job of analyzing what he has to do to get better."
-- You've seen highlight reels to appreciate Evans' size, his leaping ability, his hands, but Beaty said what people don't appreciate is that he's a coachable athlete, even after the success he's had the past two seasons.
"He's one of the most coachable players I've ever had," Beaty said. "He's a guy that can take every kind of coaching: the tough love, the pats on the back. He wants you to make you better. He will listen and absorb and take instruction. He respects those that he knows can help him."
-- Something else you might not notice: Beaty says he's a superior downfield blocker and takes pride in supporting the run game with physical blocking.
"He blocks his tail off. Took a huge amount of pride in that role," Beaty said. "We could put together a 20-minute clip of him just throwing people on their backs. He's incredibly strong. His blocking highlight is almost as good as his receiving highlight. He's a physical kid and he understands the value of his role on every play."
-- As we've mentioned, Evans is young at 20 -- second-youngest Bucs first-rounder ever (behind Regan Upshaw in '96, by 10 days) and the second-youngest first-rounder this season (behind only the Saints' Brandin Cooks). But Beaty said he has a much better understanding of what successful football requires than most people his age.
"The best compliment I can give Mike is only a better person than he is a player," Beaty said.