The Jaguars selection of University Of Florida Safety Josh Evans in the 6th round seemed a bit interesting at first, due to the selection of Jonathan Cyprien in the 2nd and the presence of veteran Dwight Lowey, but after further examination the pick makes a lot of sense, as Evans is a seemingly great scheme fit for Gus Bradley's Defense for both the FS and SS roles that Bradley needs to make his scheme successful.
In Seattle, Pete Carroll and Gus Bradley asked his two Safeties to do two a few different things, and to have different skill sets. First lets examine the FS role in Gus's defense, which was manned by Earl Thomas in Seattle, and likely will be the role Lowery will start at next season for Jacksonville but Evans will probably see his share of snaps there also.
In Seattle the FS was most commonly asked to play single high coverage and patrol the deep middle of the field in Seattle's cover 3 coverage, and he is normally the only one back there. In Seattle's Defense the two Corners are basically put on islands by themselves as they are playing cover 3 press coverage, so the FS's biggest responsibility is to help them out over the top to prevent big plays downfield. He has to have the speed and range to cover a lot of ground as he covers the middle of the field to the numbers of the field.
What makes Earl Thomas so good at what he does in Seattle's Defense is not only his speed and range, but his superior instincts also. He has a good feel for the game, and knows when to break on a route on a receiver to properly give the Corner the most help possible. These types of instincts and range can be seen somewhat in Evans during his time at Florida.
At Florida, Evans gained experience in the type of single high coverage that would be demanded as a FS in Jacksonville's scheme, and he showed above average range, and good instincts when breaking on routes. He showed good instincts when the ball was in the air, and normally positioned himself correctly. He isn't the type of ball hawk Thomas is, but due his instincts and range he normally put himself in good positions to prevent a big play, which is precisely what the FS needs to do in this defense.
Evans is a smart player, who fits the profile of the FS in Bradley's scheme. He has the range, instincts, and ability to disrupt passes to thrive in the role, but he is not limited to it. Evans is also very capable of playing the SS role in Jacksonville, the role Kam Chancellor plays in Seattle and where 2nd round pick Jonathan Cyprien is expected to start in this season for Jacksonville.
The SS role in Gus's defense is often like an 4th linebacker and an 8th man in the box to stop the run, and intermediate passes in the middle of the field. What makes Kam Chancellor so good at the SS role in Seattle is his physicality, and this type of physicality can also be found in Evans.
Evans is a physical player, and at times Florida utilized him near the LOS, in the way Chancellor is. He is better against the run then you'd expect in a player who played primarily FS. His good instincts and feel for the game let him diagnose runs quickly, and this enables him to be in a good position most of the time to make a stop. He normally takes good angles, and he shows good closing speed on ball carriers.
Evan's was not just a factor when he was near the LOS though, as he was also aggressive in the run game when coming down from the safety position. He read plays very well, and came down quickly. He shows physicality when tackling, but this does lead to some bad tackling form on his part.
The SS is not just there to stop the run though, as he must also be able to cover tight ends and short zone assignments. Evans has not only the size but the athleticism to keep up with the todays NFL TE's, and had experience of doing so at UF. Evans certainly has an intriguing skill set, as he has the range and instincts to play in deep single high coverage, but he also has the physicality and reads run plays well enough, to be dropped down near the LOS and still be productive. He is certainly a versatile player who fits in well with this versatile scheme.
One of the most exciting things about Evans though, doesn't just involve him. Both him, and Jonathan Cyprien have the ability to play FS or SS in Gus's scheme. This means the both of them can be on the field at the same time, and the Defense wouldn't miss a beat. The two of them are interchangeable with each other, which would make this defense much more versatile.
If Both Evans and Cyprien were on the field, it'd be difficult for the opposing teams Offense to decipher what the defensive secondary is planning on doing. Offense's wouldn't know which safety is dropping down, and which one will be playing single high because both Safeties would be able to do it. If both Evan's and Cyprien are on the field, Jacksonville would be able to disguise coverage's and confuse offenses which would make this defense much more versatile and dynamic than it previously has been.
While the versatility that Evan's brings this defense is enticing, it does not guarantee him a starting role by any means. Dwight Lowery is the veteran, solid, and fits the scheme well as the FS. Gus Bradley preaches competition though and both will be given a chance to win the job. It will certainly be a interesting camp battle between the two.
If Evan's does not win the starting job though, he will certainly have the opportunity to get on the field in a couple of ways. If not the starter, chances are he'll be seen at the primary back up to both the FS and SS spots, and will likely see the field in rotation. There are also a few sub packages Seattle ran involving multiple safeties that could let Evans get on the field, if Bradley decides to employ them year 1.
Overall, I feel as if Evans was a terrific pick. He is a great scheme fit who is capable of playing at a solid level at both safety spots, which will give him a better chance to gain playing time. The versatility that both him and Cyprien would bring is really interesting. Even if he does not start year 1, Evans is a player that Jacksonville fans should definitely keep their eyes on over the next few seasons.
More Jaguars News:
• Denard Robinson's NFL future
• Ace Sanders adds speed to the Jaguars
• Matt Scott, Jordan Rodgers added to QB competition
• Jaguars add "juice" to the roster
• Jaguars draft focused on scheme