The Cleveland Browns are coaching at the Senior Bowl this weekend and a number of prospects are gaining traction. Safety Justin Evans of Texas A&M is one of them.
The 2017 Reese’s Senior Bowl is Saturday in Mobile, Ala. Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson and his staff are coaching up Team South for the game, which gives the Browns an extra glimpse at some of the players in the upcoming 2107 NFL Draft. Needless to say, the Browns roster has holes across the board and if they were a boat it would be under by now.
Texas A&M safety Justin Evans is a player who stands out on film, a difficult feat when Myles Garrett is your teammate. Evans is an intriguing prospect that is a ball-hawk and also an electric return man.
In 2016, he totaled 87 tackles (five for a loss), four interceptions and eight pass deflections. These numbers were all improved from 2015, and Evans was given the kick return responsibilities on top of it. As a returner, the senior took back 15 kicks for 428 yards (28.5 yards per return).
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Although the Browns are possibly more interested in drafting a free safety, Evans can be a player who can help immediately. Cleveland struggled to determine a full-time returner last season often switching between Joe Haden and Duke Johnson, among others. Of course, Haden’s injury history isn’t one that ideally screams for him to be returning kicks and keeping him on defense would help his longevity.
The Browns secondary was arguably the worst in the NFL in 2016. There is no doubt they will look to upgrade that position group in the draft with so many picks, and Evans appears to be a viable day-two or even day-three option.
Evans tends to play deep in coverage and has the explosiveness to deliver big hits while also attaining great ball-tracking instincts. His footwork enables him to play man-to-man coverage if need be, and his length allows him to disrupt passes frequently. Although the Aggie does show flaws in tackling, and that poses a real weakness for him at the next level.
At 6-foot and 193 pounds, Evans is clearly undersized for a prototypical safety. However, his athleticism allows him to be versatile enough to hold his own when tackling. If Evans can create better angles when tackling and do a better job of wrapping up his man it could go a long way. Often times, he goes for the highlight reel hits but his angle will have him bouncing off the ball carrier.
According to WalterFootball, Evans is currently the No. 4 ranked safety in this draft class. At the end of the day, Evans is a play-making strong safety that offers great potential at the NFL level.
Whether his patience and elusiveness as a kick returner, or his ability to track down any pass as a defender, Evans can be a gamer next season. With good coaching and a solid off-season, Evans can develop into a wonderful player.