Josh Evans Scouting Report: NFL Outlook for Florida Safety
Sixth Round: 169th Pick
Elam is rightfully being considered as a late first-round pick, but Evans is a quality player in his own right and could make an impact early in his NFL career. In fact, some of Elam's success at Florida can be attributed to Evans' presence in the secondary.
Evans is being projected to come off the board anywhere between the third and fifth round, but I think he should come off the board late on Day 2. With prototypical size and an aggressive nature, Evans has the tools needed to be a starting safety.
His size (6'1", 207 lb) is ideal for the free safety position. When you combine his size with his above-average range and long arms, Evans could find the field early, as he's capable of playing single-high coverage.
Evans one knows one speed: fast. His straight-line speed is average (4.54), but he actually plays at that speed in pads. Aggressive and quick to the ball, Evans was an effective blitzer as a senior, recording 2.5 sacks for the Gators.
His aggressive nature stands out on a regular basis, and he often tries ripping the ball away from the ball-carrier. He is a sure tackler who is unafraid of bigger, oncoming blockers.
Sometimes he takes the safe route and goes for the sure tackle instead of making a play on the ball that could result in a turnover. This can be a good thing, but he needs to learn how to take chances with more regularity.
If he can prove to be assignment sure at free safety, he can stay at his current playing weight. But if he wants to make himself more versatile and play near the line of scrimmage, Evans would be wise to add five to 10 pounds of muscle.
At 6'1" and 207 lb, Evans has good size for the position and adequate speed. He's not a very explosive athlete, but he's solid in every area. Unlike his teammate Matt Elam, size is not a concern in the slightest. He's capable of playing either safety spot.
There are no known concerns regarding Evans' character.
Evans played free safety in Florida's 4-3 scheme. With Evans at free safety and Elam at strong safety, the Gators had one of the better secondaries in the SEC in 2012.
Playing the Ball
Evans is aggressive when playing the ball in the air. He'll make a play on the ball but sometimes opts for the breakup rather than the interception.
His length makes it hard for receivers in his area to come down with the ball.
Against the Run
Evans flashes exceptional closing speed when attacking the line of scrimmage. Sometimes his aggressive nature causes him to take bad angles, but he is typically quick to the ball and a reliable tackler.
At times, Evans was asked to bump up to the slot and cover tight ends on short to intermediate passing routes. For a safety, he's effective in man coverage.
Evans was often asked to play two-deep coverage along with Matt Elam. But Elam was often allowed to roam free and rely on his instincts because Evans showed enough range to play single-high coverage over the top.
Evans is a sure tackler. He's quick to the ball, and he wraps up the ball-carrier with regularity. He'll lower his shoulder and deliver the big blow to unsuspecting receivers over the middle, but when he needs to wrap up, he'll do so.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
Versatility is a strength for Evans. He has ideal size to play free safety and plays like a strong safety. This will allow him to fit into most defensive schemes, regardless of whom he's paired with in the secondary.
Early in his NFL career, he may be best suited as a third safety in a rotation. But he should find the field in some capacity as a rookie and could potentially develop into a starter during his first NFL season. Again, Evans is being overshadowed by teammate Matt Elam but has a chance to be an above-average starter in the NFL.
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