We continue looking at prospects in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft from a decidedly Cowboys point of view. Taking the Cowboys current personnel, draft position, scheme, and needs into consideration; defensive line, linebacker, defensive backs, as well as complementary offensive pieces at tight end and right tackle, we hope to profile the majority of the potential prospects that could realistically end up as Cowboys within the first two rounds. Once all of the “official visits” leak we’ll add prospects that are possibilities in the later rounds.
Today’s Prospect - (Reported pre-draft visitor)
#14 - Justin Evans - Safety - Texas A&M - 6-0, 199
Games Watched: Alabama, LSU, Tennessee, UCLA
Pros: Intimidating downhill hitter when he can line up ball-carriers and has a runway (doesn’t have to avoid blockers). Very good ball skills/awareness downfield, excellent leaping ability and consistently high points the ball. Good range to work from the middle of the field to the sideline. Has ability to matchup with TE’s in man coverage. Some added value as a kick returner although he only returned 17 kicks over two seasons. Reacts quickly once he reads the play, explosive working downhill. Good, not great speed. Throws his body around and is a physical presence over the middle. Has experience playing as a 2-deep safety, single high, in the box, he walks up in man against RB’s/TE’s, and covers out of the slot. Plays with an edge, although he may have to reel himself in a bit at the next level to avoid being overaggressive.
Cons: Despite his reputation as a big hitter and the fact that he has produced several “highlight” types of hits, there were several instances of missed tackles and poor angles in each of the four games that I watched, especially against the run. Only average size/bulk with a slight frame. Struggles changing directions once he gets moving at full speed, has a difficult time gathering himself then moving in another direction. Not a physical “form” tackler in the run game, more of a reckless “hitter”. Consistently gets lost in the hole with RB’s where he is left flat-footed as they get by him. Struggles to get off blocks. Needs to wrap up and not hunt for big hits. Very poor overall in run support. Only average instincts in deep coverage. Overaggressive at times in coverage, needs to become more disciplined at the next level.
Conclusion: Does not look like a Day 1 NFL starter, he has the tools to eventually develop into one with his versatility to cover deep, the physicality over the middle, and ability to cover TE’s, but he needs to become more disciplined first. There is a lot of upside here, but I think anybody who expects him to step in and start right away will be disappointed.
With that said, I could certainly see him playing a role as the third safety in sub-packages with his ability to play a couple of different spots. There has been talk of Evans being a potential target for the Cowboys in the second, but I just don’t see it with the talent that should be available at other positions at 60. To me he looks like a solid third/early fourth-round prospect, and with the Cowboys picking at the end of the third I could certainly see him being the pick there. He has a lot of potential but you don’t want to overdraft him based on that alone.
I do not have access to coach’s film or anything of that nature, I just watch plenty of football (television broadcast version) and go off what I see out of a prospect.
Special thanks to DraftBreakdown for posting the videos that help provide a more in-depth look at this year’s prospects.