Josh Evans to Jaguars: How Does Safety Fit in Jacksonville?

Brad HillContributor IApril 27, 2013

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 15: Josh Evans #9 of the Florida Gators celebrates his teams win over the Tennessee Volunteers with the fans at Neyland Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee.    (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
John Sommers II/Getty Images

Josh Evans isn't a player I knew a whole lot about entering the draft. However, Jaguars fans sure seemed excited on Twitter when the pick came across the screen. Jaguars fans weren't the only ones thinking the Jags made a good pick, though:

You can see what I thought of the Evans pick in the draft tracker. I went on a quest to learn more about Josh Evans and how he will fit with the Jaguars, and here's what I found:



Josh Evans is primarily a free safety, but he has the versatility to play both safety spots. With Dwight Lowery already on the roster as the starting free safety and second-round pick Johnathan Cyprien penciled in at the strong safety spot, Evans will have a hard time cracking the starting lineup.

Lowery's roster spot is safe, but backup free safety Chris Prosinski should be hearing footsteps right about now. Prosinski's play in the past has been less than inspiring, and though he has potential, he hasn't really progressed.

Evans' ability to play both safety spots gives the Jaguars flexibility to disguise their safety looks. Cyprien's and Evans' skill sets play off each other very well, and if Evans can eventually take the free safety job from Lowery, he and Cyprien could develop be a fantastic combination on the back end.

In addition to his contributions on the defensive side of the ball, I expect Evans to be a core special-teamer. He should be on the kickoff coverage team, the kickoff return team as a blocker and the punt coverage team. Evans could potentially end up being a gunner on the Jaguars punt coverage team.

The good thing about a player like Evans is that he's a true third safety. Though his best fit is at free safety, his ability to play strong safety as well allows him to be the primary backup to both Lowery and Cyprien. The Jaguars safety group has gone from a barren wasteland on Thursday to a talented, versatile group today.


Early Projections

Evans should start the season as the primary backup at free safety and potentially also the primary backup at strong safety. He should see sporadic time on the field in three-safety sets, but we don't know yet how often new defensive coordinator Bob Babich will use that type of formation.

If Lowery or Cyprien get hurt, Evans should step into the lineup and perform adequately. As a rookie safety, I would expect some growing pains, especially in a division full of great receiving talent like the AFC South.

I expect Evans to grade out slightly above average on Pro Football Focus' rankings. Barring injury, he won't play a ton of defensive snaps, so a positive rating would be very solid overall.

Evans should make an impact immediately on coverage teams. He should rack up several tackles his rookie year and be a positive contributor.

If Evans was asked to start for the entire season, I think he'd have a tough adjustment period, and his level of play would likely not be as high as I've projected in this limited role. However, I believe Gus Bradley and company will put Evans in position to be successful.

The Jaguars just upgraded their safety position for the second time in two days. Given the talent that was already on the roster at the position, it's hard not to consider this pick another great addition to the Jaguars defense.