Defensive Rookie of the Year: Safety, Justin Evans
Talk about a tough decision when picking the Buccaneers Defensive Rookie of the Year for 2017.
Cases could be made for second-round pick Justin Evans and for third-round pick Kendall Beckwith.
The safety from Texas A&M and the linebacker from LSU both had impactful seasons and were two young bright spots on a rather unstable defensive unit.
In the end, I went with quality over quantity.
Despite playing in just 823 total snaps compared to Beckwith’s 948, Evans had nearly the same amount of tackles with 66 while the linebacker totaled 73.
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In addition though, Evans also came away with three interceptions including a big one in the Bucs win over the Miami Dolphins on the road.
All of this is made even more impressive when you remember the former Aggies thumper wasn’t known for his pass coverage skills, but his ability to lay big hits on opposing players.
We really didn’t see much of the big-hit Evans, which isn’t a knock, as he proved to be a more well-rounded player than anticipated despite the fact he missed most of his pre-camp work due to an early knee injury.
Evans did finish the season on injured reserve with an ankle injury, making room for Isaiah Johnson who recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown in the team’s season finale.
Don’t expect this young safety to make room for any future roster spots any time soon though.
Following an extremely promising rookie season, he’s on a bright path to becoming a fan favorite and young cornerstone to the Buccaneers’ efforts in the NFC South.