Scouting Spotlight: LB Rashaan Evans
Bio: Evans is a 6’3”, 234 lb linebacker from Auburn, AL.
Accolades: “Versatile athlete who played in the middle with the ability to come off the edge for the [Alabama Crimson] Tide ... selected as one of the Tide’s permanent team captains as a senior ... honored as a First Team All-American by the AFCA ... earned First Team All-SEC from the Associated Press and was named to the All-SEC second team by the conference coaches ... collected a team-high tying 74 tackles, and led the Tide with 13 tackles for loss (-54 yards) despite missing a pair of games due to injury ... contributed seven quarterback hurries to tie for second at UA ... totaled six sacks (-41 yards) to rank second on the team in that category ... added three pass breakups, a forced fumble and one fumble recovery ... chosen as one of 15 semifinalists for the Butkus Award ... tabbed to the Nagurski Trophy Preseason Watch Lists ... selected as a Second Team Preseason All-American by Phil Steele ... earned defensive player of the week recognition from the Alabama coaches for his play against Arkansas, LSU and Clemson.” (Via Alabama's website)
Rashaan Evans made a pretty significant jump between his junior and senior season. Last year he could not engage at all with lineman and would get tossed out of the play. This year he handled offensive lineman much better, engaging and disengaging quickly without losing too much ground. He needs more consistency in this department because there are too many times where he will try to use his athleticism to run around the blocker.
Evans was a Swiss Army knife for Nick Saban’s defence. On early downs he played middle linebacker but in obvious passing situations would often shift down and become an edge rusher. Evans fits the mold of the modern day protype middle linebacker. He runs like a safety but lays the boom in the run game and can get off of blocks from lineman. He is a sideline-to-sideline player and never has to come off the field. His tremendous versatility is his greatest asset.
Rashaan Evans’s biggest issues are all things he can work on. Too often he arm tackles and the ball carries will pop right out of his arms and pick up extra yardage, and, as mentioned before, sometimes he takes too long to get off blocks because he isn’t aggressive enough at the point of contact or will run around the block instead. However, Evans is a dog on the field. His motor never stops and I love that. There are several occasions where he will fly into a pile to take someone's head off and miss but he pops right back up and helps rip the ball carrier to the ground. This effort also shows when he is sent on blitzes. He uses his exceptional speed and quickness to beat lineman off the snap and get immediately in the quarterback’s face. If his blitz gets picked up it doesn't phase him and he never stops pursuing the quarterback.
Evans is also a solid speed rusher. Time and time again Nick Saban trusted Evans in clutch situations to get to or at least disrupt the quarterback. He is not an every down rusher but he is more than serviceable in subpackages. Evans has a nasty spin move to combine with his straight line speed is a handful for tackles even in the NFL.
The beauty about a player like Evans is that the opposing team has no idea what he is going to do. You can blitz him from anywhere or drop him into coverage (man or zone). A player like Evans is only going to get better as he settles into his role as an inside linebacker (he spent his time at outside linebacker before last season). Evans’s fit in the NFL is as a versatile 3-4 inside linebacker or a 4-3 Will linebacker. I would put a late 1st to an early 2nd round grade on Evans. He isn’t going to come into to any locker room and be a game changer but if put in the hands of a creative defensive coach Evans will be able to do a lot of damage to opposing offences early into his career.