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Rashaan Evans, OLB, Alabama

Arkansas v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Overview...Considering that Evans is being viewed as too small for playing the classic outside linebacker position, he could see his once late first round draft stock slide, as several teams have indicated without “good numbers” on him, that his phone will not ring until the second day of the draft.

Evans might be a better fit on the weak-side playing inside for a team utilizing a 3-4 alignment. He does not have the quickness of a Ryan Shazier (Pittsburgh) or Deion Jones (Atlanta), but has been a willing thumper since moving inside for the Tide in 2016. He also has impressive range, as the Alabama coaches were not hesitate to line him up at the edge to cause havoc in the opposing backfields.

Body Structure...Evans has a compact, muscular frame with good upper body development, broad shoulders, thick chest, good bubble, tapered thighs and thick hamstrings.

Athletic Ability...Evans is a very athletic defender, showing the hip swerve and flexibility you find in a safety. He shows suddenness in his initial move off the ball and gets to top speed quickly. He has the lateral agility and change of direction agility to slip off blocks and string plays wide. He shows very good strength upon initial contact and breaks down well on the move. His ability to quickly turn and run makes him an asset in pass coverage, as he has the foot speed to stay with most receivers through their routes. He is shorter than ideal and could use more bulk for the outside linebacker position, but compensates with good explosion coming off the ball and above average power behind his hits. More than likely, a team utilizing a 3-4 alignment will tab him to play the weak inside position at the NFL level.

Football Sense...Evans has excellent field instincts and vision. He is not the type that will take poor angles in pursuit, showing the hip action to quickly turn coming out of his backpedal. His ability to read and diagnose could see him shift to middle linebacker at the pro level. He is alert maintaining eye contact with the ball when working through trash. He picks up traps and pulls easily and shows fluid feet retreating in pass coverage. He stays focused throughout the play and knows his team-mates’ assignments well enough to line other players. He plays with savvy and knows what he’s doing on every down.

Athletic Report

Key and Diagnostic Skills.. Evans is a natural athlete with excellent instincts and field vision. He is very quick coming off the snap, staying low in his pads while generating quick lateral movements to string the plays wide. He has the natural ability to always anticipate the flow of the ball (see 2017 Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State games). He simply excels at reacting and tracking down the ball. The thing you see on film that he is a patient type that plays under control and has no problems identifying what the offense throws at him.

Playing Strength and Explosion...While he lacks the ideal size to take on the larger blockers, Evans compensates with field savvy and instincts. He has the hand strength to shed blocks quickly, doing a nice job of extending to keep blockers from attacking his body. He has the ease of movement agility to flow to the ball, staying at a proper pad level to extend, wrap and secure as a tackler. He constantly keeps his legs moving on contact in order to drive the ball carrier back (see 2017 Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi State games). When he takes on blocks with his hands, he will generally separate and get off blocks quickly. He has more than enough functional strength to take on blocks and shed. He has no problems running down hill to fill the rush lane and plays with good leverage when taking on the linemen.

Lateral Pursuit/Range...This is his best asset. Evans has a natural feel for the flow of the ball, showing quick lateral movement and fluid change of direction agility. He takes good angles in pursuit and stays low in his pads to deliver a clean wrap-up tackle. He shows explosive acceleration when closing and has a natural flow in his backpedal. The thing you see on film is his ability to run through and around traffic. He gives great effort in pursuit and still plays under control to properly read and adjust to the flow of the ball.

Use of Hands...Evans uses his hands well, showing good strength to jolt and redirect tight ends in pass routes. He plays bigger than his size indicates, showing good physicality in his game. He uses his hands effectively to keep blockers off his feet and get around trash quickly. He is not a natural hands catcher (more pass deflections rather than interceptions), but the ‘Bama system calls for him to attack the man, rather than the ball, making it difficult to evaluate his ability as a pass thief.

Tackling Ability...Evans is a solid wrap-up tackler who extends his arms properly to stalk and secure. He is the type that collides with ball carriers upon initial contact and has the strength to shed blocks and stay on the ball. He shows ease of movement getting to the ball when working in space. He has the leg drive and strength to get the ball carrier on the ground instantly. Evans brings a good thump upon contact and his hits have been known to jar the ball loose from several ball carriers (see 2017 Texas A&M and Arkansas games). He brings his arms properly to wrap and is very fluid in his lateral movements to string the play wide.

Run Defense...Against the inside run, Evans compensates for a lack of size and bulk with his change of direction agility and lateral movement to slip past blocks. He has the functional strength to take on the offensive linemen, but can get engulfed when working in-line if he does not protect his chest from the blocker locking on. He does a good job of coming down hill, but is best when using his hands to shed when working near the line of scrimmage, which allows him to fill the rush lane. He plays with good leverage taking on blocks coming off the edge.

He has the speed and burst to head off ball carriers along the corners, but he does struggle vs. big lead blockers and needs to do a better job in attempts to stay in control. He shows urgency in attempts to make the play, but when he’s engulfed by bigger blockers on the edge, he tries to loop around and is too late to recover and get back on the ball carrier, thus a good reason for him to remain as an inside ‘ backer at the next level. He has the range to make plays sideline to sideline, but just seems to struggle in attempts to disengage when on the move. His change of direction skills lets him cover large portions of the field, but the production is not consistent than when he is playing near the first level. He runs to the ball well, but for some reason, he does not have the same hand usage to slip off blocks as he does vs. inside lane stops.

Pass Defense...Evans has the ability to drop off deep in the zone due to his hip swerve. He takes no wasted steps in transition and is quick to turn coming out of his backpedal. He flips his hips properly and plays at a good pad level. Evans shows no stiffness in his turns and this allows him to drop off quickly. He gets good depth in his pass drops and keeps his head on a swivel to locate the ball in flight. In man coverage, he has enough quickness to turn and run with most tight ends and running backs. He looks natural maintaining position on the receiver when working underneath. His quick feet allows him to shadow even the speedier receivers on deep routes, doing a nice job of opening his hips to turn and run.

Zone Defense...His ball awareness skills lets him locate the ball quickly. Evans does a good job of picking up and switching off on receivers, keeping the play in front of him. He has an explosive break on the ball and keeps his hands properly extended to wrap and secure. His understanding of zone concepts and great ability to anticipate the ball in flight allows him to stay on the field for every down.

Pass Rush and Blitz...Evans is an efficient pass rusher and blitzer, as he is more apt to slip through the tiniest of creases rather than wait for the play to come to him. Due to size issues, he can get caught up vs. inside trash, but he seems to do a better job utilizing a strong push off the blocker in tight areas than he does in the open. He can get absorbed working inside, but he gives good effort as a blitzer, as he’s become just as effective flowing to the ball as he is when attacking from the back side (might be better suited for inside linebacker). In opportunities to rush the passer, Evans does show the speed to close and run down plays (see 2017 Arkansas, Tennessee, LSU and Mississippi State games).

Compares To...DeMeco Ryans-ex-Houston Texan/Philadelphia Eagles...Like Ryans, Evans is a compactly built athlete with good overall muscle definition, a thick chest, broad shoulders, tight waist, good bubble and thick thighs. He has experience both inside and outside, but his NFL future lies as a weak-side inside linebacker in 3-4 alignment.

Expected Draft Slot: Late Day 1, Early Day 2