When the Titans drafted inside linebacker Rashaan Evans in the first round of this year’s draft, there were pretty high expectations for this Titans’ defensive front. But with injuries limiting his impact in the first half of the season, things went south for Evans.
Thankfully, that seems to be out of the picture, as Evans has gradually gotten better through the season’s progression. It’s tough to take anything away from tackle stats, as they can boil down to where the play ended. Still, Evans has 40 tackles in his rookie season, with 18 in his last three games.
Again there’s nothing we can take away from tackles, but I’ll say this: Evans looks more and more like a key part of this Titans defense, showing up in a big way in the team’s wins against the Jets and Jaguars. So with that in mind, let’s dive into what stands out about Rashaan Evans’ rookie season.
At Alabama, Evans’ aggression stood out. His ability to go from 0 to 100 while maintaining a high degree of power rushing the passer or the run were part of why the Titans traded up to get him.
Here, he rams his own teammate—nose tackle Austin Johnson—out of the way and stuffs Isaiah Crowell. How he’s able to find this tiny gap to make the tackle I don’t know, but he gets it done and in a big way.
Perhaps my favorite trait of Evans’ young NFL career is his patience as a linebacker. He does these fast, short hops in the air whenever he remains hesitant and it’s pleasing to eye because he gets a clean burst off of it. As shown here, he displays that quickness and patience, and uses his chase down speed to take down Carlos Hyde.
Evans has held his own against the run, and he’s also growing against the pass as well.
Evans was also instrumental on the Titans shutting down the Jaguars offense (although they seem to do that pretty well themselves). On this 4th and goal, Evans’ aggression and power both come into play yet again. At the same time he understands to control his speed, and instead of watching Leonard Fournette sail past him, he makes an incredible shoestring tackle to stop Jacksonville’s drive and turn the ball over on downs.
One complaint I had about Evans at Bama was that he’d occasionally tackle far too high, resulting in some slip ups and broken tackles. He’s appeared to clean that up nicely, and I haven’t seen much of the slip ups from him. I would like to see him more and more as a pass rusher, as that was my favorite part of his game in college.
Nevertheless, Rashaan Evans was one of my favorite draft prospects of 2018, and he’s turning into the impact player much of us thought he’d be when Tennessee drafted him. His skill set has high potential; His quickness, patience, power, burst, and ability to find tiny creases and meet the player at the right time make him so enticing as a young defender.
Here’s hoping even better things come from Evans.