As it appeared during training camp practices last week, and was perhaps confirmed in the team’s preseason opener against the St. Louis Rams, the Vikings are still in need of better depth behind Pat Williams at nose tackle.
It does not appear that veteran Howard Green, rookie Conrad Bolston or first-year man Alex Guerrero are going to be the answer. So the Vikings made for them an against-the-grain move to sign former Dolphin Fred Evans, despite his track record that included two offseason arrests prior to being released in late June.
Contract terms weren’t immediately available, but it was likely for the NFL minimum with perhaps some incentives.
Evans (6-3 ¾, 308) was a seventh-round draft pick from Texas State by the Dolphins in 2006. He was set to play a key role in the team’s defensive line rotation at nose tackle behind veteran Keith Traylor. But the Dolphins abruptly severed ties with Evans after the incident earlier this summer.
Evans was arrested on June 23 for a variety of charges, including trespassing and assaulting a police officer. Here’s the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com report of the incident. Evans allegedly was drunk and called a cab to get home but passed out in the back seat of the cab and was unable or unwilling to get out of the cab. At the time of his arrest, Evans was on one-year supervised probation in Texas after receiving deferred adjudication for possession of marijuana, a Grade B misdemeanor. He was arrested in Colorado County, Texas, on Feb. 10, 2007 and sentenced on June 6, 2007 after pleading no contest.
According to a FOXSports.com report, Evans said that he expects a favorably legal outcome on his pending charges in South Florida but that an NFL suspension is likely.
All those factors make it an unusual move for the “new” Vikings regime. But they must be convinced that Evans, like other players they have still taken chances with, has straightened up and is ready to fly right.
The kid does have talent if he gets his head screwed on straight. He’s a big man with some natural strength and athletic ability. He played in one game with the Dolphins last season (recording two tackles) and was running with the first-team in preseason workouts until his incident and subsequent release.
His path to this point is a long and storied one. Evans was born in Chicago, Illinois, where he attended Morgan Park High School as a two-way starting lineman. He redshirted at the College of DuPage in 2001. In 2002, he played on the defensive line and then shifted to the offensive line as a sophomore (2003), earning All-Region honors.
He transferred to Texas State in 2004, shifting back to defensive tackle, earning first-team All-Southland Conference and Newcomer of the Year honors. He started 10 games for the Bobcats, registering 40 tackles, 6.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles-for-loss (fifth-best total in the NCAA Division 1-AA ranks). He also caused a fumble and deflected one pass.
Evans added All-American honors in 2005. He was again chosen to the All-Southland Conference first team and named Defensive Player of the Year. He collected 55 tackles (24 solos) with five sacks, five pressures and 18 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He also forced a fumble.
In 24 games with Texas State, Evans collected 95 tackles with 11.5 sacks, 35.5 TFL and 10 quarterback pressures. He forced two fumbles and deflected one pass.
The scouting report on Evans is that he is a player with talent and upside potential, including very good bull-rushing skills. He uses his hands effectively, can split double-team blocks and shows some knack for penetrating the opponent’s backfield. He stays on his feet and can make plays. On the downside, of course, are the character concerns. On the field, he still lacks consistent technique and will play too tall and negate his strength at times. Despite the off-field issues, he’s known to be a hard working kid who’s willing to be coached.
That said, it will be interesting to see if DL guru Karl Dunbar can connect with him and get the most out of his potential.
He ran a 5.12 40-yard dash coming out of college, with other vital statistics of 18 reps at 225 pounds, a 34 ½-inch vertical jump, 9’-1” broad jump, 4.65 20-yard shuttle, 7.71 three-cone drill, 32 ¼” arm length and 9 ½ inch hands. His Wonderlic score, though not outstanding, was acceptable.
If anyone can make this work for the Vikings, it’s Dunbar, who has shown an impressive knack at developing young players such as Evans.