One night after adding to their offensive firepower with the selection of tight end O.J. Howard, the Buccaneers went in a different direction. With the 50th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Tampa Bay selected Texas A&M safety Justin Evans.
After adding O.J. Howard as a new weapon for Jameis Winston last night, the Buccaneers flipped to the other side of the ball with their second pick of the draft. They added Texas A&M safety Justin Evans, a player that the team reportedly had high interest in as of late. Last year, the Tampa Bay defense seemed to get better as the year went on, but with the addition of Evans, there’s even more hope for the unit in 2017.
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The 6-foot safety spent two years with the Aggies, racking up 165 tackles (99 solo), five interceptions and 11 passes defended. He is someone who could presumably be Tampa Bay’s starting free safety when the team opens up the regular season. He is touted for his excellent ball skills and quick feet, as well as his great tackling ability. There’s a lot to like with his hard-hitting style, as evidenced by his big hit on Alabama’s Derrick Henry back in 2015.
Evans gives the Bucs some youthful talent at a position that sorely needed it a season ago. Chris Conte had his moments in 2016, but for the most part was a below-average starter. Keith Tandy played well late in the season, but still feels unproven despite being in the league for five seasons. The team signed J.J. Wilcox in the offseason, but Evans is someone that could be the present and future for Tampa Bay at safety.
With the Bucs’ improving defensive line and talented duo at linebacker, there was a need to improve things in the secondary. With Justin Evans, it looks like they did just that. A common comparison of his is to Raiders safety Karl Joseph, who was a first round pick in 2016. There’s certainly some work to do with some of his tackling technique and maybe his physique (he weighs just under 200 pounds). However, the Bucs needed help with the secondary. Now, they have it.
What do you think of the pick, Bucs fans? Excited to see Evans in red and pewter for the foreseeable future?