“Moves Like A Corner”

May 7th, 2017

Dirk Koetter talks safety play

Seven safeties were drafted in the first 50 picks of the 2017 NFL Draft, nine total in the first two rounds.

General managers across the league loved this year’s safeties.

The Bucs snagged theirs, Justin Evans out of Texas A&M, in Round 2, No. 50 overall.

He comes with question marks (what late second-round pick doesn’t?), but talent isn’t one of them. This weekend, it’s been evident at rookie minicamp that Evans can move and has juice in his step at safety that the Bucs haven’t seen since Mark Barron, now the Rams’ $10 million-per-year linebacker, walked through the door in 2012.

Dirk Koetter likes the early look.

“He brings range. You know, he moves like a corner,” Koetter said of Evans. “We’re just in shorts and helmets, but he shows up quick at the line of scrimmage on his run fits. He’s going to have to be a little more vocal – we need our safeties to communicate more – but, you know, his athleticism and his range definitely in a passing-type camp are going to show up.”

It’s interesting that Koetter mentioned Evans moves like a corner. Many draft analysts pegged Evans as a guy with the talent, ball skills and tackling aggression to be a stud slot cornerback.

Joe doesn’t expect Evans to play corner, but it’s certainly possible, if he learns quickly and the team believes he can make a true impact there. Long term, Evans should be a safety. But Joe rules out nothing with the Buccaneers in a true win-now mode.

36 Responses to ““Moves Like A Corner””

  1. LargoBuc Says:

    Am I the only one who absolutely loves that pick? How long have we needed a centerfielder? We haven’t had a safety with that kind of range since Tanard Jackson. Unfortunately we know how that turned out. I cant wait to see Evans in cover 1. Just daring quarterbacks to go deep. Having a safety that can play centerfield allows you to do so much with the other 10 defenders.

  2. Bucs_in_Spain Says:

    Interesting (and concerning) that Koetter says he needs to communicate more given the early season problems with communication across the defence.

  3. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    No you are not Largo. I love all our picks but this one is my favorite. I feel the same way Erik does when he says his gut is telling him this kid is going to make a name for himself in this league. I know he has a ways to go but he reminds me of Earl Thomas, another Texas born bad@$$ saftey. His demeanor screams “I’m bout that action boss”. I love it man.

  4. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Spain I think it was Joe that brought it to our attention that some of the early problems with last years defense was that each group hadn’t all gotten together and talked about what each group was going over in the class room and once they as a entire defense did that on they’re own the defense took off. To me that means had that happened earlier it might not have taken what appeared half last season to grasped Smitty’s scheme. Whatever the case Justin stated yesterday he isn’t the most vocal guy but once he gets the playbook down that won’t be a problem.

  5. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    Largo when I read he played center field in baseball I was like oh yea..

  6. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    What I liked about Justin when I watched his video all his play comes from the back end. None of his highlights start with him at the LOS. Not knocking any other safety that came out this class but many times in some of those others kids vids you can see them playing at the LOS. I think to myself when was the last time a Bucs safety has done any of that??? Very pleased they pulled the trigger on this one. Personally I’m not overly concerned with the tackle noise, I’m sure his position coach will be in his back pocket when it comes to that.

  7. NycBuc Says:

    Joe has made a big point of poor tackling fundamentals, fair enough as said 2nd picks are not… I think though it is much easier to teach someone how to tackle as opposed to willingness to tackle. Evans certainly appears a willing tackler. I see the Licht, no GM is perfect but his record so far is IMPRESSIVE.

  8. Blake_bucsfan Says:

    “Blake_bucsfan Says:
    May 5th, 2017 at 11:02 pm
    @Buc Neckid

    Would you give the kid a chance before you declare him a bust?

    Justin Evans, For all of his flaws, was a pretty good player at Texas A&M, good enough to earn Co-Team MVP with Myles Garrett. He is money in coverage, with 11 PBU’s and 4 Picks in his senior year.

    He can Mirror a receivers route and stick to them like glue, and is a natural smooth runner with plus speed and great range.

    The down low word out of OBP is that Licht and the scouting department had a late first round grade on Justin Evans.

    I trust in Licht, and I trust in Brett Maxie to coach him up. I mean the guy (Maxie) made Verner a pro-bowler in Tennessee. Not to mention, I’ve never seen Keith Tandy play better than he did to close out a season.

    If Justin Evans takes to coaching quickly, Like a one Kwon Alexander once did, he has to talent to potentially supplant an inc u mbent starter at either Safety spot.”


    Said this the other day, safe to say Dirk and Schmitty feel the same type of way.

  9. Bird Says:

    Agree. Center fielder = free safety. We have 3 strong safeties so nice to add a deep guy “that moves and covers like a corner”. Get him in a rotation with reps and the tackling issue will come around. What’s great is he is a guy who will put you on your butt for a small guy aka john lynch style!

  10. Kobe Faker Says:

    Lol! You guys

    There is a reason why only a few rookie safetys in the last decade was remotely any good

    Its easier to have a qb to be good in his rookie year than a rookie safety

    Why is that? Which rookie safety played great in the last 10 years his 1st year? Why?

    Because the learning curve is almost as much as a qb. The number 1 job of a offensive coord is to trick the safety. Every offensive play is designed according to where the safety is

    You need experience to know where all the recievers are and their motive

    Rookie safeties are out there like a bobblehead doll spinning around

  11. FutureBucsGM Says:

    Justin Evans will be a Pro Bowler.

  12. Blake_bucsfan Says:

    @Kobe Faker

    Keanu Neal

    Earl Thomas

    Tyrann Mathieu

    off the top of my head those are 3 rookies that made an immediate impact.

  13. The Buc Realist Says:

    kobe liar right before the win over KC!!!!!!!

    Kobe Faker Says:
    November 20th, 2016 at 10:42 am
    Yes, i will sacrifice myself in behalf the the tampa bay bucs.

    If tampa wins i will not post here ever again

    Kobe liar with his “countdown till free agency for JW3” so he can go to a good team because kobe liar thought the GM down to the towel boy was pure garbage!!!!!

    Kobe Faker Says:
    November 11th, 2016 at 3:59 pm
    “40 games till jameis free agency

  14. BucsFanFromSaintsLand Says:

    “Kobe Faker Says:
    May 7th, 2017 at 9:28 am
    Lol! You guys

    There is a reason why only a few rookie safetys in the last decade was remotely any good

    Its easier to have a qb to be good in his rookie year than a rookie safety

    Why is that? Which rookie safety played great in the last 10 years his 1st year? Why?

    Because the learning curve is almost as much as a qb. The number 1 job of a offensive coord is to trick the safety. Every offensive play is designed according to where the safety is

    You need experience to know where all the recievers are and their motive

    Rookie safeties are out there like a bobblehead doll spinning around”

    Keanu Neal graded out pretty well. I don’t think any of us are expecting him to be a pro bowler next year. There definitely will be a learning curve but that doesn’t mean he can’t make a positive impact and help the defense. Also, below is the scouting report on Keanu Neal from NFL. com. It’s very similar to Evans. Especially the weaknesses when it comes to tackling….

    STRENGTHS Athletic frame with NFL size. Quick-­twitch player cranks it up to top speed in a hurry. Explodes downhill in run support with blood in his eyes. Vicious hitter looking to bruise bones and set tones. Rangy run stopper. Drives all the way through his contact with aggressive finishes. Scouts impressed by his personal character. Good click and close skill in coverage. Is on top of receiver immediately after the catch. Worked from the box and as single high safety at Florida. Impact tackler around the line of scrimmage. Plays with a sense of desperation and rarely fatigues.
    WEAKNESSES Will have to make business decisions regarding when to bang and when to simply tackle in order to save his body. “Hulk smash” playing style led to 15 missed or broken tackles in 2015. Can be wild in space skating past his target. Field awareness can be hit or miss in coverage. Will lose track of deep ball responsibility from time to time. Won’t always turn and run early enough.

  15. Pickgrin Says:

    Licht has earned enough of my trust that I believe J. Evans will be a good player for us.

    Evans has the physical skills required for the position and seems to relish contact. He also has the mental capacity to excel if his wonderlic score of 25 (2nd only to Peppers 26 out of the top safeties) is any decent indicator.

    A safety that is good in coverage but also brings the wood is hard to find. I think we found one. At least I hope we did. We shall see.

  16. johnnybuc Says:

    that could end up working out well for us this season if he indeed ends up being one of our better options at corner have him start in the slot with tandy and wilcox back deep and if there’s a injury any where in the secondary he can fill in and jude or elliot can step in at nickel

  17. johnnybuc Says:

    tandy also could play nickel too i threw that out there yesterday in a different post

  18. Kobe Faker Says:

    I hope E vans succeeds, but way too much pressure because its a huge learning curve

    Sometimes the best FS are those that their name isnt mentioned all game

    In the nfl, there are like 5/6 recievers on the field that can be designed to go deep in any play

    “TBR is my step dad that gave me a daily beating”

    Kobe Faker

  19. DavidBigBucsfan99 Says:

    That’s why he was drafted in the first place because that gives us options in the secondary. If he moves like a corner it means as was said he has quick feet and better hips than a typical safety. He can learn both and we can run or disguise our man coverage even more. He has the aggressive hard hitting of a ss and the range of a fs exactly what we need to give our dline just a little more time to get to the qb. Teach him to wrap up better and we got us a great weapon on defense!

  20. Mojiska Says:

    I loved this pick. There were very few scenarios i liked More in three first 3 rounds than Howard Evans and godwin. Maybe getting zay in the 2nd and having evans slip in the 3rd. Maybe getting a d end in the first, or mixon in the 2nd. But overall i absolutely loved these 3 picks. Evans was a stud in college, and i liked him over all but hooker/adams. I even liked his play more than peppers.

  21. broy34 Says:

    largo- no you were not…wanted perine but other than that the only guy I would’ve liked…demarcus walker would’ve been nice…praying hes not an all pro but must be taken with a grain of salt..he’ll be pass rushing along side the best pass rusher ive ever seen..von miller WON a superbowl so…btw had a dream McCoy was ferocious this year…anyway evans is gonna be a machine…between licht and mike smith you can be damn sure they believe hes a day one starter…if he sits behind conte or Wilcox ill lose my mind..tandy and evans is a dynamic duo..im a believer that the tandy-man can

  22. Stpetebucsfan Says:

    I think it depends on Evan’s responsibilities. I think one of Smitty and Koetter’s strengths is that they are not rigid about their offense or defense. They are not adverse to creating game plans and schemes tailored to the talent they HAVE not the talent they fantasize about.

    I think Smitty will use Evans well even givin his lack of experience. I’m no DC but I swear two things stand out for me in games against Carolina…when their two big RB’s used to gash us repeatedly and when Greg Olson blows up for waaay more than just 100 yards. Perhaps if nothing else Smitty can use Evans to spy on Olson and make sure he doesn’t run open through our secondary. At least Evans can match up with Olsen coverage wise.

  23. LakeLandBuc Says:

    We haven’t had a FS with his range, since Ronde Barber retired.

  24. Oj "I Got The Juice" Howard Says:

    St Pete, Olsen will be the least of our problems after the Panthers draft. We swept them last year, they’ll be out for blood.

  25. Bucamania Says:

    Some quick feet there! Can’t coach that, or his instincts and aggressiveness. Can’t wait til this kid proves the doubters wrong.

  26. No_Bucs_Given Says:

    Everyone hating on Evans bc he doesn’t wrap up. Easy fix. Atleast he’s in the right place at the right time!!!!

  27. tmaxcon Says:


    you sure that was a dream and not a hallucination??? ferocious and mcccoy said no one ever!

  28. Defense Rules Says:

    Anyone expecting perfection from a rookie … playing any position … is surely expecting too much. VHIII made plenty of mistakes last year. So did Noah Spence. (We won’t talk about Roberto). Rookies make mistakes … it’s called ‘welcome to the NFL, rookie’. Would love to see Justin Evans win the free safety job, and if he does I hope folks give him the same slack that we’ve given to VHIII & Spence. (We won’t talk about Roberto here either).

  29. Capt.Tim Says:

    Most of “trying to trick the safety”, is tricking the STRONG safety in to biting on a running fake, or Visa versa.
    The free safety is playing the Deep third of field- taking over on Derp routes.

    Not that complicated

    It does require discipline and Insticts.

    Lots of rookie safties step right in.
    Evans will be no exception

  30. LargoBuc Says:

    Glad you share my optimism Nos!

  31. Duke Says:

    Check out you tube, JJ Wilcox// welcome to Tampa
    And Hardest hitting safety in the SEC

    Two stick carriers in the secondary

  32. BucItSRQ Says:

    What I like these offseason defensive acquisitions is they all have similar traits. They all are aggressive players known as (Hard Hitters) J.J. Wilcox is a Box safety known as a hard hitting safety. Evans is a centerfield Safety who also brings the wood. I honestly feed bad for the opposing receivers who dare catch a ball in these guys vicinity. They will most definitely be sore by the next morning

  33. Cobraboy Says:

    I suspect J. Evans jersey will become a hot seller.

    He’ll make mistakes, of course, but after his first monster hit hell become a household name.

    I remember John Lynch’s first big hit. Fans who didn’t know who he was never doubted the guy after that moment.

  34. webster Says:

    Eric berry, harrison smith, landon collins are safeties with immediate success. So whoever thinks safeties cant have immediate success as rookies knows nothing about football.

  35. LargoBuc Says:

    Remember Mark Barrons first game week 1 2012 vs Carolina. Barron totally destroyed Steve Smith😀That one hit set the tone. Its a shame Lovie couldnt use him, or Dominik couldnt build around him.

  36. SOEbuc Says:

    @Cobraboy That 21 is a kick ass jersey. I hope he’ll ball out just so I can get one.