With the 18th pick of the second round of the 2017 NFL draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have selected safety Justin Evans out of Texas A&M.
The Bucs had a need at safety, where they only have three safeties all of whom are somewhat similar as box players who struggle as deep safeties. Evans should shore up that position, adding the ability to really take away the ball in the air, with four interceptions last season. He has the speed to roam the back end, which is a dimension the Bucs were missing in their secondary.
Here’s what Lance Zierlein of NFL.com had to say about him.
Soft-spoken but carries a walloping stick. Plays the game with an elevated sense of urgency and excitement. He is a little undersized, but has plus speed, is an extremely physical hitter and can play deep or near the line of scrimmage. Athleticism and ball skills might lead a team to test him out as a slot corner. Regardless of where he plays, he has the talent to become a plus NFL starter and a potential Day 2 (Rounds 2-3) draft selection.
Versatile, a little undersized, athletic and forces turnovers. That’s exactly the kind of defensive back Mike Smith loves, and it sounds like he could start on day one opposite Keith Tandy—or, at minimum, get some playing time in a rotational role.
Evans also brings some kickoff return ability, which the Bucs were desperately missing last year, so that gives him some added value. He only played two years at Texas A&M, joining them after playing two seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
It’s interesting that the Bucs passed up a few other talented safeties, including Obi Melifonwu (widely seen as a first-rounder). Melifonwu was an outstanding athlete and a height-weight-speed prospect with questionable film, and the Bucs really value that film.
Intriguingly, both Evans and Bucs first-round pick O.J. Howard played in the Senior Bowl this season.
The Bucs still have a number of needs to fill, though none of them are particularly pressing. The team needs to walk out of this draft with added depth and perhaps even starters at running back and safety, while defensive end and cornerback should be relatively high on the list of priorities, too.
Tampa Bay have one more pick tonight, the 20th pick of the third round. Stick with us for that analysis, and come back for the final four rounds of the draft as well as the scramble for college free agents tomorrow.
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Buccaneers draft picks
Round 1: pick 19 (19th overall) - TE O.J. Howard, Alabama
Round 2: pick 18 (50th overall) - S Justin Evans,
Round 3: pick 20 (84th overall)
Round 4: pick 19 (125th overall)
Round 5: pick 18 (162nd overall)
Round 6: pick 20 (204th overall)
Round 7: pick 19 (237th overall)
2017 NFL Draft dates and times
Thursday, April 27 – 8:00 p.m. ET (Round 1 – 10 Minutes Per Pick)
Friday, April 28 – 7 p.m. ET (Round 2 – 7 Minutes, Round 3 – 5 Minutes Per Pick)
Saturday, April 29 – noon ET (Rounds 4-6 – 5 Minutes Per Pick, Round 7 - 4 Minutes Per Pick)