2017 NFL Draft Profile: Safety Justin Evans
By Soyica Lyles
In this 2017 NFL Draft profile, here’s a breakdown of the strengths, weaknesses, and a draft day prediction for Texas A&M safety Justin Evans.
Know this, any adjective used to describe a 200-pound mass searing through the secondary would be a fitting description of Senior, Justin Evans. And of course, if you’ve watched A&M football, then it’s hard to have missed Evans the Hunter at times flattening ball carriers. Heading into the 2017 NFL Draft, Evans is a solid safety that brings a lot to the table.
Consequently, as an Alabama Crimson Tide fan since birth, at no point with Evans on the roster was it ever an option to underestimate the Aggies secondary. With Evans hunting and lurking downfield for his next victim, fans, quarterbacks and offensive coordinators alike have been forced to account for his presence on field—always. Warning. This also includes kickoff returns.
Unfortunately, there is no rest for the faint at heart and as he transitions into the NFL, offenses should prepare their battle stations.
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Though six-feet is the average measurable for a free safety, Evans field presence is much more towering. Comfortable in one-on-one against slot receivers, he’s a ball hawk who plucks balls out of the air, often as if the pass was intended for him.
He’s an ultra-aggressive hunter in search of the big hit on every play. And when in motion his passion is unquestionable.
On special teams, Evans averages 28.53 yards per kickoff return.
Two seasons in one of the toughest conferences in college football, Evans totaled 165 tackles (99 of which were solo), five interceptions and 11 passes defended. At season’s end, he was third on the SouthEastern Conference interceptions leader board with four, behind Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick and Florida’s Teez Tabor.
Watching certain highlights, Evans appeared lackadaisical and not in a full-throttle mode when moving up to help on plays. Then on other occasions, he didn’t fight through picks and hand blocks.
Additionally, he used bad angles or simply preferred to tackle the runner from the side rather than head on. Seems reminiscent of a matador whisking his cape and body out of the path of the charging bull giving him free reign into the secondary.
Yes, it was said Evans is the hardest hitting in the SEC, but it seems as if his mantra is tackling when his speed is equal to or greater than the ball carrier. Rather than stopping the runner head on. When he does hit, it’s a shoulder lunge causing him to leave his feet making himself susceptible to head and neck injuries when lunging into stronger and faster targets.
Nonetheless, other highlights clips showed Evans’ at full speed torpedo mode. In said mode, he often overruns plays and then unsuccessfully relies on arm tackles.
DRAFT DAY PREDICTION
According to ProFootballFocus.com, Evans did not give up a reception longer than 14 yards after September last season. This is a great bargaining chip for a defense looking to become less generous with deep ball catches allowed. Evans’ name will more than likely be called in the late third to early fourth round.