As the Vikings moved to 7-1 on the season, one player who stepped up big time with injuries was Akayleb Evans. Before the season I wrote a small piece dissecting his college play and how I thought he could fit into this scheme. On Sunday he showed a lot of the attributes and traits that made me so fond of him. Today I would like to highlight his sure tackling and some nice pass coverage skills that Evans showcased in the absence of Cam Dantzler.
Early in the game Dantzler went down with an ankle injury on tackle forcing Evans to step in as the number 2 corner, He has filled in a couple times this season and every time the opposing team would target Evans, This week he played very well.
I would like to highlight a few key plays that Evans made this week:
This play sets up as trips or trey right with the running back to the weak side.
As we can see here Evans is lined up directly across from the receiver his eyes are on the wideout which can tell him everything he needs to know about the play, depending on how the wide receiver moves will tell him if it is run or pass.
Evans reads the run and immediately attacks the back, he gets caught inside initially but we can see him stop directly in place and flip his hips to attack the ball.
Evans wraps up nicely forcing the running back to go down for a loss of yards, Evans showed great speed and athleticism, to recover and make a nice tackle.
This next play has the Commanders with an empty backfield with Evans to the short side of the field.
Evans is once again facing a one on one with the outside receiver as the ball is snapped his eyes are directed at the wideout meaning his responsibility is the receiver he has a safety behind him, but Smith is worried about the slot receiver.
This is a slowering developing screen, Evans is patient with his man and settles as he waits for him to make a move as soon as the QB turns his way he can see the lineman converge towards him, meaning screen, instantly Evans puts his foot into the ground giving him speed and force to attack the wide receiver. He read the play before the lineman could get there giving him an advantage to make a play on the ball.
Evans converges on the ball and is able to beat any blocker, he wraps up nicely again creating a tackle for loss, great play recognition and aggressiveness are on full display on this play.
This play sets up as a single back bunch tight end. Evans is lined up on the far side of the field. The commanders run a play action bootleg on this 4th and 1 with McLaurin coming across the field on a sort of speed dig, with a slower release to allow Hienicke to get outside the pocket. Evans starts with inside leverage on the receiver forcing him to make an outbreaking release to attempt to throw Evans off the inside leverage.
Initially McLaurin beats him off the line with a nice move. Evans falters here by letting him gain the inside advantage.
Evans recovers nicely running slightly behind McLaurin as the play is still developing. He is targeting the sideline and his QB is past the hash, Evans with speed keeps up with the receiver.
McLaurin gets to the numbers when Heinicke makes a great throw to his chest, with great recognition Evans jumps and gets his hand inside the hands of McLaurin, forcing the ball to pop out and create a turnover on downs in a crucial part of the game.
Evans played very nicely stepping in for Dantlzer, he made some key plays and helped the defense tremendously. With Dantzler expected to be out this week, look for Evans to play almost the whole game.