TAMPA, Fla. -- During the draft, one of the phrases we heard frequently from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was "catch radius."
About 90 minutes into Friday’s rookie camp, we saw exactly what coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht were talking about. During a 7-on-7 drill, first-round draft pick Mike Evans made a leaping, one-handed catch on a ball that appeared to be overthrown by quarterback Brett Smith.
Evans, who was picked No. 7 overall, fully extended his 6-foot-4 body and snatched the ball with what had to be an extra-large catch radius.
“You take a player that high in the draft, you expect to see some spectacular plays,’’ Smith said.
Evans’ catch was the highlight of the day, but he made several other nice catches.
“We haven’t been surprised by an awful lot,’’ Smith said.
Evans has been as good as advertised. He got a head start working with the veterans earlier in the week. Smith said Evans has been picking up the offense very quickly.
“Mike, of course, has great hands and the physical ability,’’ Smith said. “You can see that. It does take a lot for a rookie to come in. We’re not there. We’re not game ready by any means right now. But we like the progress we've seen since day one.’’
Evans’ size was one of the reasons the Bucs drafted him and Smith said he’s happy with what he’s seen so far.
“It’s good to see him up close going against a 5-10 defensive back,’’ Smith said. “We have some big, tall men out there making plays. He has excellent hands. We saw that in college.’’
On Friday, they started to see those hands in the NFL.