While we sat around waiting to see where former walk-on B.J. Finney would end up, the possibly-mad genius Chip Kelly threw Bring on the Cats World Headquarters for a loop by picking an entirely different former walk-on. With the 196th pick, the 20th of the sixth round, the Philadelphia Eagles selected K-State's Randall Evans.
The selection isn't a surprise because Evans isn't good. It's a surprise because Evans isn't flashy or spectacular. For two years, he's been a steady and stabilizing influence on a defense which itself has mirrored Evans's own traits. If anything, this would seem to be a coaching and brains pick. Evans, while not absolutely perfect, played mostly mistake-free football the last two years.
If it seems odd that a player's most glowing asset is that he's the lone senior that we never screamed "Gah, what are you doing?!?" on what was, after all, a fairly exceptional defense... well, you're right. What we're saying here is that Evans is a good football player, and he's got enough physical skill to succeed, and he's been well-trained by a stellar coaching staff.
Evans brings several strengths. He's a fantastic double-duty corner, and he's also perfectly capable of playing at free safety. He's solid against the run and the pass, and does a great job reading the quarterback; most of his interceptions have been the result of perfect reads and route-jumping. He also finishes well; in the midst of a defense that we sometimes criticized for poor tackling, Evans almost never got called out for it. The Eagles, desperate for help in the defensive backfield, appear to have gone after someone who can be dependable rather than astonishing. Don't take that as selling Evans short; it's a compliment.
We just didn't expect him to get drafted, because he didn't get a combine invite and there wasn't a ton of noise surrounding him during the Pro Days whirligig. But sending defensive backs to the NFL isn't exactly uncharted territory for Kansas State, and Evans joins a great fraternity in that regard. And looking ahead to the future, this bodes well for K-State's senior-heavy secondary next spring, doesn't it? Clearly, there is some value to defensive backs who are smart enough and tough enough to be great in run defense as well as against the pass.
The Eagles are no stranger to K-State, or even K-State defensive backs. Evans, if he makes the team, will be the 17th former Wildcat to wear the green and silver, and will join Wildcat legend Darren Sproles on the roster. Other Wildcats of note to play for the Eagles: Darren Howard, Justin Swift, Barrett Brooks, and Jaime Mendez. Be sure to check out what our colleagues over at Bleeding Green Nation have to say about this. They're not upset.