The theme for the Bucs this off-season has been making this team bigger and faster on both sides of the football. Pretty safe to say Bucs Gm Jason Licht got it done with his additions through free agency and the draft. Speaking of faster let’s take a look at the Bucs second round draft pick safety Justin Evans, who I wasn’t a fan of to begin with but with proper development and hard work, he has the tools to be something special. Evans strengths are his ability to play man coverage, range from sideline to sideline, and ability to make big hits which the Bucs need from the safety position. Now knowing Mike Smith, he will do a good job of putting Evans in situations that will help him play to his strengths and stay away from his weaknesses.
Evans is 6’0 195lbs with 4.4 speed and loves to play super aggressive and hit his opponent right in the mouth. There is nothing wrong with that, and Evans is a true centerfield type safety in which he can make plays in coverage and get his hands on the football. Evans was one of the defensive leaders at Texas A&M, and brings plenty of energy and passion to the field. That is something the Bucs defense needs more of and hopefully Evans can be a positive presence in the secondary.
“He’ll hit you, but he’ll also miss some tackles. 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.” — Mike Mayock
Mayock points out Evans biggest weakness which is he is all or nothing all the time and it often leads to miss tackles or poor angle pursuits opening the door for big plays allowed. He needs to learn how to play under control and understand that the basic play is sometimes the right play. Every play can’t be a big play and that staying true to your assignment is usually what helps your team wins. I think with the coaches help, Evans can turn into a great player down the road. Right now, it would be best for him to stick to playing deep middle and using his coverage and range skills and let him get better with the rest slowly. I think the Bucs can go with Conte, Tandy, or Wilcox at safety and let Evans be that matchup type player.
Again, if he can learn how to control his aggressiveness, and learn how to be discipline in his run defense then he could be something special as a complete safety. Evans is a gifted athlete as he played baseball and football in high school playing pitcher, receiver, and defensive back respectively. So obviously he can make plays on the football as he had 4 interceptions last year and that should continue going forward in his NFL career. So with that being said, I hope Evans can surprise me and make that next step in his game because if he does the sky is the limit.