Texas A&M's Justin Evans a solid addition to Bucs' safety corps

30 April 2017, 12:06 | Kristine Mills

Texas A&M's Justin Evans a solid addition to Bucs' safety corps

Jason Licht said the Bucs have had their eye on O.J. Howard since the 2015 season when there was a chance he would leave early after helping Alabama to a national championship

Howard out of Alabama. "I know what kind of offensive mind he has, so I'm just looking forward to it. ..."

The Bucs traded up into the end of the third round to take this run-stuffing linebacker who's coming off an ACL injury. The speculations make sense because teams like the Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills, Houston Texans, New York Giants, and Detroit Lions are said to be trying to move up the draft to ensure that they get their target prospects.

"I got a text with about a million smiley faces", Licht said.

Howard has struggled to live up to hype that has come with his play-making ability while at Alabama, but some scouts put the blame on the staff and scheme. And with just a fifth- and a seventh-round pick on day three, any backs they do draft should't be seen as serious competition for Doug Martin and company.

Licht focused on re-tooling the offense in the first two, including selecting Winston No. 1 overall in 2015.

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Tampa Bay used the seventh overall pick in the 2014 draft on Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, who is one of only six players in National Football League history to start his career with three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Evans (6'0/199) spent his junior and senior seasons in College Station after transferring from community college, starting both years and tallying six tackles for loss with five interceptions.

While the Bucs went 9-7 in 2016, they missed the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season.

Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who visited Tampa Bay in the weeks leading up to the draft, was also gone by the time the Bucs selected Evans.

The Buccaneers made a point of addressing their lack of an intimidating force in the deep secondary during free agency by signing J.J. Wilcox, but most everything about Evans suggests that even at 5-foot-11 and 199 pounds, he'll soon prove to be an upgrade. Evans will also compete with holdovers Chris Conte and Keith Tandy for playing time.

If Evans produces in minicamp, there's no reason to think that he couldn't start right away for Tampa Bay.

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