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2018 NFL Draft: How LB Rashaan Evans Would Fit With The Jaguars

Zach Dewitt

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Jan 9, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Rashaan Evans (32) sacks Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) during the third quarter in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

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)

Strengths

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.

Weaknesses

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.

Zach is a 21 yr old born in Jacksonville, Florida growing up in Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra, and St. Augustine. He has been a Jaguars fan his whole life and endured all the bad times. Zach joined the Air Force at 18 and is currently stationed in South Carolina but makes sure to rep the Jags whenever he can. Zach has written for fantasy football sites before but wanted to try his hand at real football. You can follow Zach on Twitter at, @ZakDewitt.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

2018 Jacksonville Jaguars Fantasy Football Outlook

Zach Dewitt

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HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 10: Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) rushes the ball on his way to a 100-yard game during the NFL game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans on September 10, 2017 at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire)
HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 10: Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (27) rushes the ball on his way to a 100-yard game during the NFL game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans on September 10, 2017 at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX. (Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire)

It’s the year of our Lord, 2018, and there actually might be a few fantasy relevant Jaguars. I’m here to give you a rundown on what to expect from your Jaguars players in fantasy football this year.

I’ll be breaking down each individual offensive position group and assessing how valuable they are in fantasy and what you can expect from them this year. It’s important to know that this is just one man’s educated opinion and I’m bound to get some stuff wrong but remember, especially for fantasy, it’s always process over results.

Quarterbacks

The only name worth noting in the quarterback room is our dude, Blake Bortles. Despite his play on the field being less than desirable, he’s often usable for fantasy. From 2015-2017, he’s logged yearly fantasy finishes of QB4, QB11, and QB13.

Right now, according to Fantasy Football Calculator’s ADP, Bortles isn’t even being drafted. That’s bananas. His play on the field and his weekly fantasy football finishes may be a volatile but it’s easy to find the matchups that Bortles will perform well in. Streaming QBs from week to week is the way to go anyway and it’s very easy to do that with Bortles.

Bortles may not be the best QB to draft, as he starts his season off with a Giants defense that should bounce back from their down-2017 season, the Patriots, and then an improved Titans team. After that however, you can grab Bortles off waivers and play him the next four weeks in plus matchups against the Jets, Chiefs, Cowboys, and Texans.

The WR corps is extremely spread out, which isn’t ideal for their own fantasy production but is great for Bortles. He arguably has as many weapons as he’s ever had before and that will only make his life easier. Lastly, Bortles’ tendency to scramble and rush, gives him a safe floor. It’s always a good bet to look for rushing QBs in fantasy and Bortles sneakily rushes a good bit.

I wouldn’t exactly target Bortles in fantasy drafts but he’s a phenomenal target for players following the late round QB strategy or wanting to wait on a 2nd QB in 2QB or Superflex leagues and he can be had with the last pick of your draft.

Running Backs

Leonard Fournette is the star of the show in the Jaguars backfield. Fournette finished as the RB9 last year and had over 1300 total yards and 10 total touchdowns, despite only playing in 13 games.

Things should only get better in 2018. The Jaguars added one of the best left guards in the league in free agency in Andrew Norwell and the left side of the offensive line is going to be deadly. The team also added more pass catching weapons which should help to pull defenders out of the box and make Fournette’s life easier.

Fournette also dropped weight coming into this year. He came into camp weighing about 223 pounds, which is 10-15 pounds lighter than what he played at last year.

Fournette is currently being drafted as the RB8 (1.10), which, without injury, I believe is his floor. Fournette will get the lion’s share of the carries and showed off respectable passing game prowess last year. It’s not out of the question that Fournette could finish as the overall RB1. Admittedly, it’s unlikely but it’s still possible. So drafting him as the RB8 in drafts this year gives you a decent amount of room for him to improve his finish.

The only real threat to Fournette finishing as an RB1 is injury. He has battled with chronic ankle injuries and we saw that last year. Hopefully a full offseason and carrying a lighter frame will help with his ankle issues and we may see a full 15-16 games out of Fournette this season. I would be perfectly happy taking Fournette at the 1st/2nd round turn and I’d really be praying he fell.

Just to highlight his two backups, T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant, I believe Grant is the back to be more excited about. Yeldon is a fine RB and I actually think he’s better than he gets credit for but Grant gives you more to be excited about for fantasy purposes.

Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett has talked about wanting to get Grant involved more, even without a Fournette injury so he may actually get solid usage if Fournette went down. We saw great usage with Grant in the first half of the AFC Championship Game and Grant showed what he could do when given the touches so this isn’t all just blind hope. Grant displays blinding speed and is always a big play threat. That’s what we want for fantasy, especially if we’re looking for a high upside handcuff.

Wide Receivers

Boy, did we see a ton of shakeup in the Jaguars wide receiver corps this offseason. Let’s just highlight the changes real quick: Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns departed from Jacksonville, while veteran Donte Moncrief and rookie D.J. Chark joined the team. Marqise Lee also re-signed with the Jaguars on a four year deal.

Well, now that we’re all caught up, the WR corps this year will likely be a combination of Marqise Lee, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook, D.J. Chark, Donte Moncrief, and a 6th WR that wins the job during the prseason. This is a lot to digest — nobody really knows who to bet on this year.

Lee has been in Jacksonville for four years and has the most rapport with Blake Bortles but has had a fairly lackluster career thus far. Keelan Cole was an undrafted free agent last year who flashed numerous times as a deep threat and many believe could come out of camp as the WR1.

Westbrook was a 4th round rookie last year who missed the first nine games due to injury, but filled a possession-style role later in the season and into the playoffs. Chark is the new, hyper athletic 2nd round WR who was been having an amazing camp so far. Moncrief came over from the Colts in free agency, and has had a strenuous career thus far, having never been able to stay healthy and eventually leaving the team that drafted him.

This is what makes things so difficult. You could make a convincing argument that any one of these WRs could the best Jags WR for fantasy. What makes it more difficult, is the Jags are a very run heavy team and can likely only support one fantasy-relevant WR all year.

I don’t doubt that each WR will likely have at least one blow-up game but we won’t be able to predict those. To be honest, your best course of action is to just take late round fliers on your favorite guy or two. Only three WRs are even being drafted according to Fantasy Football Calculator’s ADP. Lee at WR51 (11.06), Westbrook at WR63 (14.01), and Cole at WR70 (14.07).

So take a stab on any of them and hope you pick the one that hits. My personal favorite is Keelan Cole as he flashed amazing WR play last year, he can play outside or inside and has apparently looked great in camp too.

Tight Ends

To put a bow on things, let’s talk about Austin Seferian-Jenkins. ASJ joined the Jaguars in free agency, after a one year stint with the Jets. He’s had a troubled NFL career thus far but showed out pretty well for the Jets last year, with 357 yards and three touchdowns.

ASJ is a great athlete and a redzone threat, standing at about 6’5” and 260 pounds. Despite his size, ASJ is actually adept at stretching the field and running the seam. Not to mention, he and Bortles already seem to have chemistry and ASJ is talking very highly of Bortles in camp.

The Jags have shown over the years that they want to utilize their TE and ASJ may be the best, most athletic one they’ve had in years. I believe he is extremely underrated in fantasy, as he’s being drafted at the TE17 spot (14.01). Color me shocked if ASJ doesn’t finish higher than TE17 and presents himself as a draft day value in 2018. Tight end is a position, like quarterback, where we should be streaming and playing plus matchups week to week. So I’m not telling you to just draft ASJ then lock and load every week — please don’t. But you could do a lot worse when drafting a TE.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Ramsey, Fowler Suspended by Jaguars for Violating Team Rules

Demetrius Harvey

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Jun 14, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey (20) rests on the sideline during mini camp at the Dream Finders Homes Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

All-Pro Cornerback Jalen Ramsey has been suspended by the Jacksonville Jaguars for a week after addressing a media member via social media today. This, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, is because of a tweet Jalen made following today’s practice. This means he will not participate in joint practices this week against the Minnesota Vikings nor will be participating in the game.

This stems from a video made by a media member today during practice featuring a scuffle between defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and defensive end  Dante Fowler. Following the posting of that video, Ramsey took to twitter and made the following tweet. Following this tweet, the Jaguars have suspended Jalen for a week.

The video in question has been posted below. Here you can see Yannick Ngakoue and Dante Fowler get into some sort of fight. In the end, you can see Ramsey telling media members to turn their cameras off.


UPDATE: Dante Fowler has been suspended for violating team rules as well for his part in the fight today. This, according to Mike Kaye of First Coast News.

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Jaguars Fall to Saints in First Preseason Game of the Year

Demetrius Harvey

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Aug 9, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) talk after their game at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Jacksonville Jaguars Game Recap

The Jacksonville Jaguars battled with the visiting New Orleans Saints for their first preseason game of the season, losing by a score of 24-20. While the starters played very little (or in some cases not at all), this was still a great test to see how all of the offseason’s hard work has paid off. The Jaguars opened the ball game with a 15-play, 79-yard drive capped off with a Blake Bortles 2-yard bootleg run for a touchdown. That would be the end of the Jaguars offensive starters and they did not need to show much more.

The opening drive for the Jaguars defense started with a long return by the Saints to the 40-yard line and a penalty by Jalen Ramsey to set the Saints up nicely in Jaguars territory. The Jaguars tightened up on defense allowing just a field goal. Not a bad start for one of the best defenses in the NFL last year, especially without veteran DE Calais Campbell out there.

After an opening couple of drives, the Jaguars backups entered the game. Cody Kessler picked up right where Blake Bortles left them. Kessler finished the game 14-17 for 137 yards and a touchdown. He led the Jaguars to three scoring drives, a great day for the backup quarterback. The Jaguars 2nd and 3rd team defense had a so-so day initially giving up only 1 touchdown from the Saints backups. A couple of bright spots on defense were Michael Bennett, defensive tackle, and rookie linebacker Leon Jacobs. As long as Bennett is healthy, he can easily be one of the better defensive tackles on the squad, so this preseason is important for the veteran. Jacobs performed far and away better than his backups tonight, and that could be the showing the rookie needed to keep his position as the starting SAM linebacker.

And then Tanner Lee came in. Tanner Lee is the Jaguars 6th round rookie out of Nebraska. Not highly touted, however, he was looking to impress after some warranted criticism of his play during training camp. Unfortunately for the rookie, he had a very poor outing completing only four out of eight passes for 37 yards and fumbling the ball to set up a short field and what ended up being a game-winning drive by the Saints 24-20. The Jaguars could not get anything at all going with Lee at QB.

Three plays of the game

  • Blake Bortles’ pass to Dede Westbrook to set up a TD run. Bortles had two back to back great plays, one being a pass under pressure to Westbrook to get them within the 5-yard line. And on the very next play, a naked bootleg TD run to put the Jags ahead 7-0.
  • Back to back sacks in the 3rd quarter by Tyler Patmon and Andrew Motuapuaka.
  • Perhaps overlooked, but Josh Lambo continues to be Mr. Automatic here in Duval. He connected on not one but two 49-yard field goals early in the game, and was perfect on two extra points. He is a blessing the Jaguars desperately needed.

Player of the Game

The player of the game had to be backup Quarterback Cody Kessler. Kessler, who was acquired via trade from the Cleveland Browns prior to the draft, completed 14 of 17 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. The backup quarterback put together one of the best-looking performances from a backup quarterback that we have seen in a long time.

Conclusion

The Jaguars first preseason game went about as well as anyone could have liked. Not too many highs, but enough to put the Jaguars fans worries of regression at ease. And not too high to not expect, and still want more, especially from the backups. There will be an interesting position battle between not only the wide receiver position but also a few defensive positions. D.J. Chark, as well as the other Jaguars receivers, showed just why they got most of the night off as they looked excellent catching everything that came their way from starter Blake Bortles and backup quarterback Cody Kessler.

Nickel corner and the linebacker positions will be one to watch for. Another position battle to look for is the Jaguars punt return position. Rashad Greene had a negative play (muffed punt), and Jaydon Mickens had a fair catch.

Next week, the Jaguars take on the Minnesota Vikings on August 18th at 1 PM E.T.

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