Former Missouri safety Akayleb Evans enjoyed a fruitful and productive week at this year's Senior Bowl. Evans displayed his physicality and versatility in coverage while establishing several meaningful relationships with NFL scouts, coaches, and general managers throughout the team meetings process. Evans recently spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about what he believes he proved to scouts at the Senior Bowl, his favorite wide receivers to cover and battle in Mobile, his decision to transfer from Tulsa to Missouri, what coverage schemes he particularly enjoys being utilized in, and what type of impact he plans to make at the next level. JM: You recently returned from the Senior Bowl. Congratulations on your participation. What was the experience like in Mobile? AE: Thank you for that. I had a lot of fun out there. It was a great experience. I was able to be coached and learn from an excellent Detroit Lions staff. The Senior Bowl allowed me to be around a group of athletes that helped push me to another level. We picked each other’s brains and whatnot. I had a lot of fun in Mobile. It was a very productive week overall. JM: What do you think you proved to the scouts in attendance at the Senior Bowl? AE: I believe I proved that I’m a consistent performer. I went out there and competed against some of the best prospects in the country. I did a great job showcasing my physicality during practices and scrimmages. I was happy with my overall performance. I feel like I showed I belong at the next level. JM: You certainly did that. You met with all 32 teams, as most prospects did. Did you have any connections or especially productive conversations with any teams in particular? AE: There was a solid number of teams I felt like I had a really good interview with. I met with all 32 teams, as you said. I didn’t feel like I had any bad interviews or anything like that, but I especially felt like I connected with the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, and Atlanta Falcons, among others. I felt like I had great interviews with those teams. JM: We love hearing that. Who were some of your favorite wide receivers to cover and compete with throughout the week of practice? AE: I really enjoyed going against Calvin Austin from Memphis. He’s a big-time talent. I was actually able to play against him when I was at Tulsa. I already knew what he had to offer. It was a lot of fun to compete against him once again throughout the week of practice. It was a cool experience. I like him a lot as a receiver. JM: That brings me to my next point. You transferred from Tulsa to Missouri for the 2021 season. You’ve had some time to think about that decision now that the season is in the rearview mirror. How do you reflect on it? AE: If I had to do it all over again, I would make the same decision. I feel like it was the right situation for me. I did everything I needed to do at Tulsa. I left the program the right way. There weren’t any hard feelings or anything like that. My time at Mizzou was well spent. I learned a lot professionally from my position coach Aaron Fletcher. It was a great experience. JM: How do you believe your one-year experience at Missouri helped prepare you for the next level? You can point to defensive schemes and strategies. AE: Coach Steve Wilks was our defensive coordinator. He’s coached in the NFL for a very long time as a defensive coordinator and head coach. I was able to pick his brain regarding some of the things he looked for in an NFL player, defensive backs in particular. We ran an NFL scheme. We ran certain unique coverages. A lot of college players didn’t get the NFL experience I received at Missouri. I like to call it my redshirt rookie season (laughs). That’s what coach Wilks gave me this past season. I was able to learn a lot. JM: Coach Wilks is an NFL-level coach. What are some of your favorite coverage schemes to play and participate in? AE: I like to play a lot of press-man coverage. I did a lot of that at Tulsa. We ran a lot of Cover 2 at Tulsa. When I arrived at Missouri, we ran more Cover 3. Throughout my two experiences, I’ve really been exposed to every scheme and coverage look you can imagine. I can play press-man, zone, or whatever you need me to play. I can do anything I’m asked to do. JM: You’ve been selected to participate in this year’s NFL Scouting Combine. What are you most looking forward to? AE: I’m looking forward to showcasing my athleticism. I feel like I’m a faster player than most people think I am. I think I’m going to test very well. I’m excited to showcase that. I’m excited to go through the drills and show how fluid of a defensive back I am. I plan on performing to the best of my ability at the combine. JM: We’re looking forward to analyzing your combine performances. If you could pick the brain of any NFL defensive back, who would you choose and why? AE: I would choose Patrick Peterson. I grew up idolizing him and his game. I just love the way he conducts himself. He’s a role model for me. He’s so physical and his technique is so clean. He plays the game at such a high level. He’s always so locked-in and focused in my opinion. There’s nothing he can’t do. I would love to pick his brain. JM: That’s an excellent choice! Peterson is a pro. I’ve really appreciated your time today. In closing, what kind of impact is Akayleb Evans going to make at the next level? AE: I’m going to make a huge impact both on and off the field. Whichever team selects me is going to get a guy that’s going to do everything he can to help out in the community. I look forward to giving back and showing thanks at the next level. As for football, I’m going to do whatever it takes to help the team and make an impact on the field. I’m excited to reach the next level and carve out a role for myself. Whichever team gets me is going to get a player that’s putting his best foot forward in all aspects.
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