Patrick Ochs

Where will Justin Evans go in the NFL Draft?

Justin Evans represents Texas A&M at South team practice at the Senior Bowl, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017.
Justin Evans represents Texas A&M at South team practice at the Senior Bowl, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. ttisbell@sunherald.com file

It’s easy to get lost in mock drafts this time of year.

Everyone seems to be an expert at knowing who will go where in the NFL Draft, which begins April 27.

South Mississippi will likely have one native son selected early — former Stone High and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College standout Justin Evans.

The Texas A&M Aggie has been projected everywhere from being a fringe first-round selection to the third round or possibly even later.

Here’s a rundown of some of the latest prognostications:

No. 44: Buffalo Bills

Think Evans has ever played in the snow? This early mock from FoxSports.com had Evans heading to Buffalo.

Here’s what Dieter Kurtenbach had to say: “He’s a riser in this draft. Anyone who watched the Texas A&M defense this year knows why.”

No. 46: Indianapolis Colts

From ProFootballFocus.com: “Adding another defensive playmaker to the mix, Evans has the range to thwart passing attacks on the back end, where his 90.2 PFF coverage grade ranked third in the nation last season. He certainly has to improve as a tackler — he’s missed 38 over the last two years — but Evans flies all over the field, and he’s another important piece in Indianapolis’ defensive overhaul.”

No. 50: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

DraftAnalyst.com — official sounding URL, yeah? — has Evans as a mid-second rounder.

No. 64: Carolina Panthers

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has Evans as the seventh safety selected, behind LSU’s Jamal Adams, Ohio State’s Malik Hooker, Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers, Washington’s Budda Baker, Florida’s Marcus Maye and N.C. State’s Josh Jones.

No. 79: Minnesota Vikings

Back in late March, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke mocked the first three rounds. In more recent weeks, Burke has re-mocked the first round, but Evans has climbed into the first 32 picks.

No. 81: Washington Redskins

At one point, WalterFootball.com also had Evans going 64th overall. They recently updated their mock, with Evans falling to Washington at No. 81.

Here’s WalterFootball’s analysis: “The Redskins are getting a great value pick in Justin Evans, who could be chosen early in the second round. Evans would eventually succeed DeAngelo Hall.”

No. 92: Dallas Cowboys

As a Dallas Cowboys fan, I love seeing Todd McShay’s “GM Mock Draft.” The ESPN Insider did a 107-pick mock draft as if he were the GM of each team. Though Evans certainly wants to hear his name much earlier, landing with the Cowboys might not be the worst thing.

No. 102: Miami Dolphins

CBSSports.com’s R.J. White has Evans falling all the way to No. 102. In a wrinkle, his mock actually includes theoretical trades, which is how the Dolphins acquire the Seattle Seahawks’ No. 102 pick.

“The Dolphins keep adding depth to the defense on the second day by landing Evans, a hard hitter who could wind up starting down the road and also has the cover abilities to stick in the slot,” White wrote of Evans.

Moving on ...

So you get the idea.

Here’s a quick summary of Evans’ abilities, as cultivated from the various evaluations: He is an incredible athlete — perhaps one of the best in the draft (he ran a 4.57-second 40-yard dash at Texas A&M’s pro day to go along with a 41.5-inch vertical jump despite working through a lingering quadriceps injury). He possesses good coverage skills and his make-your-ears-ring tackles are certainly his calling card. With that in mind, however, Evans gets dinged for going for the big hit too often, which leaves him vulnerable for some big misses.

Back in January, Evans was on the Gulf Coast for the Senior Bowl.

“I think about (the draft), but I don’t think about what round or anything like that,” he said. “I would like to go first round but whatever happens, happens. I’d be blessed first, second, third, fourth, whatever. I’d be blessed just to get drafted, so I try not to focus on that too much.”

Regardless of where he is selected, his versatility should give him the upper hand on making an early impact in the NFL.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

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