It’s no secret that the Cleveland Browns need help at the safety position. Ohio State’s Malik Hooker, who is pegged by many to be a Top-10 pick, just had surgery that puts his stock into question.
Malik Hooker had surgery Tuesday on a torn labrum and a hernia that he played through late this season. He will miss the Combine.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 1, 2017
If Cleveland does not want to target a safety in the first round, though, they had their look at one this past week at the Senior Bowl in Justin Evans. While he was down there, correspondent Barry Shuck had the opportunity to interview Evans.
Justin Evans (6’ 1”, 195) SS, Texas A&M, Projected Round: 2
Compiled by Barry Shuck
An excellent tackler who enjoys supporting the run game, Evans will be a second day selection. Normally each game he is in the top three in tackles.
Q: What should NFL teams expect from you?
Evans: I am a day one starter. I will come in and learn the scheme and learn from others that are already there and be a big part of the defense.
Q: There are a lot of NFL folks at the Senior Bowl and will be just as many at the Combine. What can you expect?
Evans: This is very big for me as an athlete to play in front of so many decision makers. But I am going to show them my game whether that be cover and playing in space, the ball is in the air, tackling. It’s big for me.
Q: Is there pressure to perform at an elite level?
Evans: There’s pressure but at the same time we’ve been doing this since we were kids. It’s kinda pressure because it’s big time now, but it all comes down to still being the game of football.
Q: What are you expecting next year in the NFL?
Evans: To be a starter and potentially be a Pro Bowl selection. My goal is to defensive rookie of the year.
Q: Favorite NFL players growing up?
Evans: In high school I was a quarterback, so Cam Newton was the one I wanted to see play every week. Now, I still like Cam but look at Earl Thomas as a role model for what type of player I want to become. He just goes out each week and performs to a high level and doesn’t worry about what type of end zone dance he will have to do if he scores on a pick six. Your play will get you the respect you deserve.
Q: Once your football career is over, what do you see yourself doing?
Evans: Coaching at some level, and it doesn’t have to be football. I am a person who loves sports so basketball and baseball would interest me. That is my life really, it is all I have been doing growing up and seeing myself in that role someday.
Q: How would you describe your tackling abilities?
Evans: I feel I am a great tackler, but I have a tendency to miss a tackle once in a while and that bothers me. My goal is to clean that up. I also try to be “that guy” who makes a good open-field tackle.
Q: Your defensive coordinator John Chavis at Texas A&M has compared you to some of the great A&M defensive backfield players like (the Chiefs’) Eric Berry. Your thoughts?
Evans: Well, Berry is one of those guys that you want on your team and back there when the game is on the line. If Coach Chavis thinks that my game is on the same line as Berry’s, I am with that. We are all taught the same thing: not to quit and stay in the game.
Q: You are rated as one of the top safeties in this year’s draft and coupled with names like Jamal Adams and Jabrill Peppers. Do you feel that you have their talent level?
Evans: I’m looking to prove every aspect of my game, the coverages, playing the ball in the air and tackling. The question is if I’m one of the best safeties, and that’s what I’m trying to prove. And that’s what I want them to say when they look at my game.