With NFL teams finalizing their draft boards, and needs being relatively evident for each team after the free agency period came and went, it’s time to begin evaluating prospect fits at positions of need for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In continuation of the Locked On Jaguars prospect fit series, let’s take a look at Alabama LB Rashaan Evans. We’ve previously covered Penn State TE Mike Gesicki, UTEP guard Will Hernandez, Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph, and Oregon OL Tyrell Crosby.
Measurables: (#) = Percentile vs NFL LB
Height: 6′ 1⅞ (47) Weight: 232 lbs (17) Wingspan: 77¼” (43)
Arm Length: 32¼” (42) Hand Size: 10″ (74) Vertical Jump: 30″ (10)
Broad Jump: 116″ (49) 3-Cone Drill: 6.95s (73)
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.36s (33)
Rashaan Evans played ILB at Alabama but for only one full season. That season being 2017, as he had to bide his time being many talented LB recruits, namely Reuben Foster. He recorded 74 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and six sacks. He only started two games in 2016, Alabama’s playoff games, and he registered 18 tackles. In 2015 and 2014, he primarily played special teams and reserve LB.
When you flip on Evans’ tape, one of the first things that stands out is his ability to rush the passer. The first thing you notice is how easily he beats the left tackle around the corner using only his speed. However, the closer you look, it’s evident that he wins this rep by having an extremely quick get off. He’s the first defender off the line and almost even with the left tackle before he even gets up and into his stance. This speed and quickness shows up time and time again in Evans’ game.
Another signature of Evans’ pass rushing prowess is his spin move. He shows over and over again that he can use the spin move both inside and outside. Here, he sets up the left tackle and then easily spins around him to rush the throw and hit the quarterback. The left tackle never stood a chance, as Evans’ was spinning around him before the tackle even got his hands up on him. Evans’ frequently uses this move and it’s clear that it’s one of his favorites. He’s adept at using it and is successful more often than not.
Evans’ also shows ability to rush the passer without using only his speed. He’s able to hand fight, as well as use pass rushing moves. Evans’ illustrates here that he’s able to set up the tight end, swat his hands down, and then use a swim move to get past him. He also shows his tenacity here. After getting past his blocker, the quarterback steps up into the pocket. However, Evans’ is able to keep his eyes on the quarterback and then fight through the tight end and running back to register the sack.
Rashaan Evans fits the NFL’s new mold for LB’s perfectly. He’s about 6’2″, 230 pounds, and has great speed and length. He also possesses great range, explosiveness and ability to play sideline to sideline. He tracks the running back out of the backfield and immediately explodes to catch him on the sideline before he’s able to break past the secondary. He initially takes a less than ideal angle but has the speed and agility to quickly correct and make the tackle. This speed and range would fit in very well with Myles Jack and Telvin Smith.
He also uses his speed to close quickly on plays before they have a chance to develop. This is most often shown when a quarterback starts to scramble and Evans’ explodes from his spot at middle linebacker and gets to the quarterback before he’s able to break outside and get to the sideline. This is extremely valuable on defense, as rushing quarterbacks are becoming more popular and more deadly.
For someone who played ILB his whole career, Evans’ showed a lot of promise in coverage. He was able to read routes and showed ability to stay on the hip of the receiver and make a play on the ball. I think he could trust his athleticism a little more and squeeze some routes tighter but that can be coached.
Evans’ is a very solid run defender and showed ability to shed blocks, while still keeping his eyes on the running back. One thing that stood out was his tendency to shed or side step blocks without giving up his gap. You can see here that’s he’s able to get through the block while maintaining his gap and forcing the running back inside, rather than bouncing outside. That gap integrity is something that’s important to the Jaguars’ defense.
Something that consistently stood out to me on Evans’ tape is his ferocity and tenacity. We see him use that spin move again, this time to the inside, and then uses his athleticism to stop the quarterback from getting outside and chases him down for the sack. Evans’ never gave up on the play and you see that sort of tenacity all the time when he plays. That attitude fits in perfectly with what Jacksonville looks for.
The biggest weakness I see in Evans’ game is his lack of instincts and he can sometimes be slow to diagnose and react. I think it mostly stems from him only being a full time starter for one year, as we saw incredible improvement in this area from 2016 to 2017. This leads me to believe his instincts will only get better the longer he plays the position. It mostly manifests itself on running plays when he is sometimes hesitant to crash a gap and run downhill. That slight delay allows the hole to fill, and he’s unable to make a play. Again, I think that’s something that will improve with playing time.
Some scouts have concerns about durability as he’s had a few nagging injuries, namely a groin injury last year. None of the injuries were linked so on the surface, they don’t give us any major reasons to be concerned.
Fit in Jacksonville
With the retirement of Paul Posluszny, that leaves the Jaguars with a hole at LB. Whether they moves Myles Jack to MLB and draft a SAM, or they leave Jack at SAM and draft a MLB. I personally believe that Rashaan Evans could play all three of the linebacker positions but that SAM would be a great fit for him.
He’s shown incredible ability as a sub package pass rusher and showed a lot of promise covering tight ends in coverage or running backs out of the backfield. Even if you choose to leave him at MLB, he’s a great run stopper and his instincts at the position will only get better. His explosiveness and speed even make him deadly as a delayed blitzer from the inside. Most importantly, I think his versatility gives the Jaguars a lot of flexibility in their linebacker room. Not to mention, his ferocious play style and tendency to fly around the field would fit in flawlessly here in Jacksonville.
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