Buccaneers Final Draft Grades: Evaluating the Entire 2017 Class
Safety was a definite need for the Bucs entering the draft, so seeing them go this direction was definitely a plus.
To say Justin Evans wasn’t on my radar, or anyone’s really for the Bucs, would be an understatement.
Of course, I looked at him in my process of evaluating players, but watching him didn’t really do anything to me in terms of tying him to the team.
NFL.com’s draft profile of Evans compared him to Karl Joseph of the Oakland Raiders who came out of West Virginia in 2016’s class.
This should immediately give Bucs fans reasons to celebrate.
Joseph is an aggressive smash tackler who flies around the football field and can make a big play at any moment for his defense.
Looking at tape of Evans, and I immediately see the same personality traits and talents.
My personal preference is defenders who wrap up when tackling, so his style of play gets me a bit nervous.
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Going up against receivers like Julio Jones, Michael Thomas and Kelvin Benjamin, Evans will need to sharpen his fundamental tackling ability to be really effective in the NFC South.
Looking at running backs in the NFC South, he’s going to get injure or embarrassed if he consistently relies on shoulder-ramming to get defenders down.
Measuring 6’0” and weighing in under 200 lbs., Evans isn’t exactly the biggest enforcer to enter the playing field.
What he’s lacking in size he makes up for with aggressiveness and an almost reckless tackling style. Still, concerns for his long-term health are there, just as they are for Joseph in Oakland/Las Vegas.
Ultimately, he’s got the ability to become a starter for the Buccaneers, and don’t be surprised if he’s challenging for first-unit snaps early.
He also has return experience which is an area the Bucs desperately need to get better at.
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said the following of Evans,
"“He’s a very aggressive guy. It’s all-or-nothing when he comes to tackle and he also has good range on the back end. When you look at Tampa Bay, Justin Evans comes in, competes day one and ends up being their starting free safety.”"
How true this is, is currently unknown, but one thing is for sure. The Bucs needed a safety, they needed an aggressive safety, and they got one. Special teams possibilities are a plus.