Player name: Rashaan Evans
H/W: 6’2 232
School / Class: Alabama / Senior
Measureables: 30” vertical jump, 9’8” broad jump, 6.95 3 cone drill,
- Versatility - Evans was used everywhere in the front seven except for defensive tackle. He was often deployed as an edge rusher before earning the full time job at inside linebacker as a senior. Frequently slid down to defensive end to rush the passer and moved to outside linebacker to blitz on certain packages. He was converted to inside linebacker for the Tide after signing as an edge rusher out of high school. While most people have rightfully projected him as an natural replacement for the departed Avery Williamson, he can spell either Brian Orakpo or Derrick Morgan outside as well. Another positive is that he didn’t lose a step between changing coordinators as well. Current Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt was the DC for Bama when long time DC Kirby Smart left for alma mater Georgia.
- Athleticism - Even though he didn’t test in the 40 at three key events (the Combine, Bama Pro Day, makeup Pro Day), he is an excellent coverage linebacker in the mold of a Luke Keuchly. Has the lateral agility to go sideline to sideline with the fastest backs and tight ends. Possesses elite Kyrie Irving like handles when rushing the passer, including a devastating spin move that confounds blockers. Easily has the agility to make up for instinct issues (more on that later). He just simply explodes up the field once he gets going on delayed blitzes. I’ve noticed some hip stiffness when dropping back into coverage to turn and run but not to the point where it was glaring. Physical hitter. Excellent short are quickness.
- Instincts / IQ - The general of the fearsome Crimson Tide defense. An extension of Nick Saban on the field. He set the defense during his senior season as the man in the middle. Read and react skills were generally on point. I noticed that he was frequently in right area nearly 100% of the time. This is none more evident than in the 2017 semifinal against Clemson and LSU. Especially LSU. It was impressive stuff given that both sets of Tigers endlessly ran jet sweeps and fake sweeps to throw off the defense. He didn’t bite on the fakes not once and was in the picture nearly every time. Lesser linebackers would have been exposed badly. Maintains gap discipline on every snap.
- Character - He had to sit behind some major NFL talent before finally getting significant reps as a junior and parlayed it into a starting job a senior. Most people would have transferred but he stuck it out and worked harder than everyone else without complaint. That says a lot. Embodies the Saban era Tide program to a T. Toughness and physicality are two traits you can take to the bank with him. Missed only two games as a senior with a torn groin suffered in the season opener. Played through the groin injury all year. How serious was it? He nearly tore it off the bone and still came back.
- Washing Machine - I’ve seen that in every piece of stuff that I’ve watched live or on film, he gets lost in the wash quite easily. This could be either due to his frame or just simply dominant OL play but its worth seeing. He’s in the right area to make the play but can’t disengage with the blocker to make it. He just gets swallowed up. Often had a clean field to roam thanks to the studs up front but how often is he going to get that in the NFL?
- Tackling - He tackles high often and that gets him in trouble. Doesn’t wrap up properly and goes for the home run hit far too often for an elite prospect. There were several more sack / TFL opportunities for him had he just wrapped up properly but the offensive player just slipped by him due to Evans going in high. It’s a major issue that needs correcting.
- Instincts - I did see that he was often a couple of second slower in diagnosing a play on several occasions. This could be hesitation of trying to not bite on read option plays or something more fundamentally wrong. I want to be positive and say that it was a system in place where he was acting as the QB spy but without further research, it’s hard to tell. Something to correct as mere seconds can result In busted coverages or worse.
Evans was one of the best linebackers regardless of position all year in 2017. After watching most of Bama’s games for further context, he was more impressive than I initially thought. His game against LSU is high quality stuff for a linebacker of his caliber. Stood out as a big game hunter. Performed really well on the biggest of stages so the potential is there. It’s rare to see a guy that makes up lost ground quickly after taking himself out of the play. A lot of times he’s cleaning up messes that his teammates left. If I had to put a number on his 40, I would put it at 4.6.
A former five star recruit that was last minute commitment to Alabama on Signing Day. Auburn, AL native that was nearly locked into the Tigers but went to the rival Tide. Impressive bloodlines as father played for Auburn in the 80s. Mother is great as well. She holds FOUR degrees from Auburn.
Yes. I do like the pick after some initial skepticism due to his offseason process being what it was. Evans comes from an awe inspiring lineage of Crimson Tide linebackers. I think he could be a cross between Donta Hightower and CJ Mosely in due time. He can step in right away and fill in the gap that Avery Williamson left behind and play edge on third downs. I think DC Dean Pees will have fun trying to utilize him all over the defense. It will be interesting to see how he fares as a rookie.
Evans reportedly signed a 4 year deal worth $11.6 million fully guaranteed with a $6.5 million signing bonus