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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

Jaguars Release Jamaal Charles, Promote Linebacker DeLuca

Demetrius Harvey

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Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars have released running back Jamaal Charles after trading for Carlos Hyde and have promoted Linebacker Nick DeLuca. Charles was brought in to be a change of pace back for the Jaguars after placing Corey Grant on season-ending injured reserve.

The Jaguars traded for Carlos Hyde last week making Charles expendable. Charles accounted for 7 yards on 6 caries for the Jaguars. He also added two catches for seven yards. Running back Leonard Fournette has not been ruled out to play this week either and will travel with the team to London according to Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone.

Nick DeLuca is a rookie linebacker from NDSU. He was signed to the practice squad earlier in the season and has now been promoted due to the injury to linebacker Donald Payne. Payne will be out at least a couple of weeks with a knee injury.

 

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Editorial: The Jacksonville Jaguars have nailed their own coffin

Zach Goodall

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Oct 21, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Houston Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) tackles Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) and forces a fumble during the first quarter at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

In electing to stick with Blake Bortles as their starting quarterback, despite benching him for a poor performance against the Texans and watching his backup Cody Kessler vastly outperform him in the same game, the Jacksonville Jaguars have nailed their own coffin.

Now sitting at a 3-4 record, on a three game losing streak, and in third place in the AFC South (the Titans own the tiebreaker for second place), it was clearly time for change to get this ship steered in the correct direction. Just seven weeks aggo, this Jaguars team was viewed as a potential Super Bowl contender. Right now, this team is projected to pick in the first half of the 2019 NFL Draft.

And they can’t blame anyone but themselves at this point.

“We can’t do s**t until we stop turning the ball over. Period. That’s just how it is,” head coach Doug Marrone said following the loss to the Texans. “…the first thing we’ve got to do is stop turning the damn ball over.”

In three consecutive games, the latest of which he barely played past halftime, Bortles has eight turnovers of his own: Five interceptions and three fumbles.

“I spoke to both quarterbacks this afternoon and told them that Blake will be our team’s quarterback. I believe this gives us the best opportunity to win,” Marrone stated in a release from the team after Bortles was named the team’s starter going forward.

What?

In a 24 hour period, Marrone has stated that, while turnovers are the Jaguars biggest issue, the player who is responsible for countless amounts of turnovers gives the team the best chance to win football games. That is the message that is being sent to this team, and the Jaguars fan base.

And the team isn’t happy. Star cornerback Jalen Ramsey was quoted saying “It is no secret what’s going on here right now. Ain’t nobody going to say it because we can’t, but it ain’t no secret what’s going on and it ain’t right right now,” after the loss to the Texans. Given the circumstances, it’s hard to assume this was shade thrown at the quarterback situation.

Ramsey deleted a post of him and Bortles shaking hands on the field from his Instagram this morning.

Defensive tackle Abry Jones put the responsibility of the offenses deficiencies on the defense, quoted saying “We can’t let them [opposing offenses] score at all.”

The Jaguars have chosen to be complacent, and in doing so, this season will continue to plummet. The confidence is low heading into London this week, and the Eagles pass rush should have an easy job forcing Bortles into more poor decisions as this Jaguars team appears to be on track to a 3-5 record at their bye week.

This team was supposed go contend this year. At one point in September, the Jaguars had single digit odds to win the Super Bowl. But that is all in the rearview mirror, as the Jaguars have nailed their own coffin in naming Blake Bortles the starting quarterback of a team that is already beginning to implode.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars announce Blake Bortles will remain the starting QB

Zach Goodall

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Sep 16, 2018; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles (5) attempts a pass against the New England Patriots during the first half at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

24 hours removed from his first career benching, where he was clearly outplayed by his own backup in a 20-7 loss to the Houston Texans, Blake Bortles has been named the starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars for Week 8 against the Philadelphia Eagles in London, per the team.

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone announced in a statement: “I spoke to both quarterbacks this afternoon and told them that Blake will be our team’s quarterback. I believe this gives us the best opportunity to win.”

This comes under two hours removed from Marrone saying he had made his decision already but planned on addressing the team before releasing that information to the public. Bortles was benched after committing two turnovers against the Texans on Sunday, and Kessler completed 21/30 passes for 156 yards, a touchdown and an interception in his place.

Bortles has committed eight turnovers in the past three weeks.

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