The safety position hasn’t always been a strength for the Green Bay Packers. This season, it appears to be and the development of rookie Marwin Evans, will make deciding who to keep and who to cut exceedingly difficult.
Evans, who was an undrafted free agent out of Utah State, put himself right in the middle of the safety conversation with an impressive performance last week against the Oakland Raiders — a performance that made NFL scouts take notice.
“If the Packers let him go, they’ll play against him,” one personnel man told Bob McGinn of the the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “You can’t tackle as well as this guy tackled and run 4.4 and not have a place.”
“Right out of the box, too,” The scout continued. “He went right up to the line of scrimmage and made a hell of a tackle.”
According to McGinn, Evans recorded four tackles in just 20 snaps against the Raiders and all four plays netted a total of just two yards.
At 5-11, 208 pounds, with a forty-time of 4.4, Evans represents the new kind of safety that is trending in the NFL. He and fellow undrafted rookie, Kentrell Brice have both impressed the Packers this summer and part of the reason why is that each potentially fits into that hybrid role.
Of course, the only problem is that their may be a spot for just one of them, not both.
Evans not only impressed scouts, but also some teammates with his performance against the Raiders and throughout camp, but the question is, will it be enough to earn a spot on the Packers’ final 53-man roster?
“We need guys like that,” safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said. “He’s been doing a great job of being physical and playing fast. He wants to be part of this team.”
Yet, with Clinton-Dix, Morgan Burnett, Chris Banjo and Micah Hyde, solidly on the roster, it leaves little room for players behind them. Hyde doubles as a slot corner, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see one more safety kept.
However, getting two more onto the roster may be more difficult.
But, if the Packers stuck with both Evans and Brice over say fellow rookie free agent Josh Hawkins, that would give Green Bay four corners (Sam Shields, Quinten Rollins, Damarious Randall and LaDarius Gunter), which could allow the team to keep six safeties, since Hyde and some of others (Burnett at ILB) are slated to play in hybrid roles.
The team generally keeps close to 10 defensive backs, so it wouldn’t be a huge stretch and with the way the game is heading, players who are comfortable, both in coverage and around the line of scrimmage, are becoming more and more valuable.
Evans emergence, even though it has created a bit of logjam at safety, isn’t a bad thing. Having good, young players come forward in August is what every NFL team wants — the Packers just have to hope they’re right when they decide who stays and who goes.