Former University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff left tackle Mark Evans II signed a free-agent deal with the New Orleans Saints on Saturday, the university announced.
Evans was not selected during the three-day NFL Draft, which was held in Kansas City, Mo., but the senior from Houston has landed with a professional team as expected. In signing Evans, the Saints turned to the same school from which they drafted offensive tackle Terron Armstead 10 years ago. Evans has frequently been compared to Armstead, a four-time Pro Bowl player who now plays left tackle with the Miami Dolphins.
Evans, a 6-foot-4, 295-pound senior, racked up a large number of preseason and postseason honors in 2022, including a first-team All-American nod by multiple organizations and first-team All-Southwestern Athletic Conference. Phil Steele's College Football magazine named Evans its Football Championship Subdivision Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Evans allowed just two sacks in 521 snaps and started 9 of 11 games as a senior. He anchored an offensive line that helped spring running back Kayvon Britten for more than 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns on the season.
The Saints finished 7-10 overall, third in the NFC South Division, and missed the playoffs for the second year in a row. They drafted defensive tackle Bryan Bresee of Clemson in the first round (29th pick overall), edge Isaiah Foskey of Notre Dame in the second round (40th pick), running back Kendre Miller of Texas Christian in the third round (71st pick), tackle Nick Saldiveri of Old Dominion in the fourth round (103rd pick), quarterback Jake Haener of Fresno State in the fourth round (127th pick), safety Jordan Howden of the University of Minnesota in the fifth round (146th pick) and wide receiver A.T. Perry of Wake Forest in the sixth round (195th pick).
Evans will have to make the 53-man regular-season roster through his performance in training camp and the preseason, while many players who were drafted in the early rounds will receive guaranteed contracts. Many incoming players also land on the practice squad as they await their chance to be called up to the game roster.
In addition to Armstead, UAPB had another alumnus on an NFL game roster in 2022: Punter Jamie Gillan, who plays with the New York Giants.