The argument could be made that Josh Evans is the forgotten member of the Florida defense.
Not only has he not gotten the attention of defensive lineman Shraiff Floyd and linebacker Jon Bostic, he’s not even considered the best safety in Florida behind Matt Elam.
“Some people call Josh Evans the other safety,” said NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock in a conference call with reporters last week. “He’s a pretty good football player. I think he’s going in the same range. Fourth or fifth round, special teams. He’s a sneaky good player that could ultimately two to three years from now elevate himself from special teams into competing for a starting spot.”
Evans doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight, however. He thinks playing alongside Elam has only benefitted him as a player.
“Playing with him this last season has been a blessing,” said Evans at the NFL Combine. “He’s one of those guys who’s understanding the game, who uses his physicality to go out there an be aggressive.”
It wasn’t until Evan’s senior year that he became a full-time starter on Florida’s defense. He made three starts his sophomore year, eight more his junior year and then all 13 as a senior.
In his final collegiate season, Evans was a productive member of a Florida defense that ranked No. 5 in the nation in both scoring and defense by allowing an average of less than 300 yards and 15 points per game.
Personally, Evans made 83 tackles, five for a loss, 2.5 sacks, three interceptions and broke up three passes in 2012.
While Evans may be somewhat of a late bloomer, his raw athleticism is apparent. At the Combine, he had the top three-cone drill time of all safeties by clocking in at 6.64 seconds.
According to Evans, he met with representatives of the Green Bay Packers at the East-West Shrine Game and then again with safeties coach Darren Perry at the NFL Combine.
Working in Evans’ favor is his flexibility. The Gators product doesn’t feel as if he needs to be pigeonholed into a certain role as either a free or a strong safety.
“It really doesn’t matter,” said Evans. “I’ve been playing both these last two seasons. Definitely this last season I’ve been in the box a little more, so I feel like I couldn’t go wrong playing either or.”
If Evans were to be taken under the wing of Perry as something of a pet project, there’s hope that he could become a starting caliber NFL safety in due time.