TAMPA — Mike Evans has never been one to back down from a challenge. So when confronted with complaints from a couple players ranked much lower than him on NFL.com’s top 100 players for 2020 list, the Bucs receiver fired back.
First, Evans added more spice to the Bucs-Saints rivalry when he was interviewed about New Orleans cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who came in at No. 76.
Evans has had some huge games against Lattimore and the Saints. In the final game of 2018, Evans went off on Lattimore with seven catches for 147 yards and a touchdown in a 48-40 Bucs win.
But they have had beefs before. Evans was suspended one game for blindsiding Lattimore following a play in New Orleans in 2017 when he saw the Saints cornerback engaging in a sideline confrontation with then-Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.
When asked about Lattimore holding him to zero catches in a loss at New Orleans last season, Evans bristled.
‘‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa,” Evans said. “He had a really good game against me? Their defense had a good game against me.‘‘
It‘s true that Lattimore has played well against some elite receivers, such as Evans and the Cowboys’ Amari Cooper.
But Evans also draws his share of double teams against the Saints. One-on-one, Evans has won plenty of times.
During the interview for the NFL 100 piece, Evans does sing Lattimore’s praises.
“He’s a good player,” Evans said. “I guess he had a good game, and the whole team had a good game.
“He plays really hard. He’s physical. He makes good breaks on the ball. And he can tackle at corner. That’s not what a lot of corners do, and he can do it.”
Then it was Keenan Allen’s turn. The Chargers receiver was ranked No. 77. Noting that both Evans and Bucs receiver Chris Godwin are inevitably ranked higher than him (the entire list has not been released yet), Allen called them out.
Allen went to Twitter to say that the Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill, Evans and Godwin may be faster than he is but not better.
Evans fired back on Twitter: “... don’t be mad at us. We ain’t make the rankings or care about em. I like the confidence but be realistic you not on my level bro.”
Now would be a good time to remind Allen that Evans has six straight 1,000-yard seasons to start his career, tying Randy Moss for the most in NFL history. With Tom Brady under center, he‘s likely to own the record outright. He accomplished it playing with quarterbacks such as Josh McCown, Mike Glennon, Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Godwin earned his first Pro Bowl appearance last season after leading the Bucs with 86 catches for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns despite missing the final two games with a hamstring injury.
If you want a legitimate complaint about the NFL top 100 players for 2020 list, it belongs to the Bucs. Linebacker Lavonte David is ranked No. 100.