Moss went on to set the NFL rookie record with 17 touchdowns in 1998 while Evans broke Tampa Bay’s single-season franchise record with 12 touchdowns in his debut season.
Noting those similarities, Moss took Evans under his wing for a week of workouts earlier in the offseason.
“It was just me and him,” Evans said, via the Bucs’ official website. “I was up for there in North Carolina for about a week at the end of March. There’s a lot of knowledge there, man.”
Evans might not share Moss’ game-breaking speed, but both receivers specialize in coming down with contested catches, taking full advantage of long arms, big hands, a huge vertical leap and uncanny body control.
“I think he’s the best to ever do it,” Evans added. “Working with him, I think it will take my game to the next level.”
Picking the brain of an all-time great wide receiver can only help, even if Evans might be overstating the impact of a week’s worth of workouts.
There are more tangible reasons to expect improvement in Evans this year.
Evans ran a limited route tree as the rookie “Z” receiver under ex-quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo, who was shoehorned into an offensive coordinator role for which he was not prepared.
“Arroyo did a good job for us last year but it is hard to replace experience,” Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins recently explained. “Dirk has been around a long time. He has coached a lot of games in this league and knows how to read the defenses. He is bringing a lot of experience.”
Knows how to read defenses? That’s not a minor detail.
Evans, like Moss, is more than just a one-trick pony with impressive ability to high-point deep balls and end-zone fades. He has excellent footwork in tight spaces and a rare combination of nimbleness and physicality after the catch.
Between the move to the “X” alpha dog position, improved play-calling from Koetter and No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston‘s willingness to take chances down the field, Evans might soon find himself on NFL Media analyst Nate Burleson’s list of the NFL’s top five wide receivers.