Throughout the summer, National Scout Jon Ledyard, Assistant Director Joe Marino and Scouting Director Kyle Crabbs will be conducting summer assessments on 99 notable senior prospects. Of these 99 seniors, the 33 most prominent will be covered by all three analysts.
Of the remaining 66, each of the three analysts has “drafted” 22 of them to scout exclusively.
This serves as the foundation for our 2018 draft assessments.
Scout: Jon Ledyard
Name: Rashaan Evans
Date of Birth: N/A
High School: Auburn High School (AL)
Games Played: 43
Games Started: 2
Team Captain: No
Production: 76 tackles, nine sacks, 10.5 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery
High School: Consensus 5-star prospect. Ranked no. 15 nationally in the 247Sports Composite rankings while also rating as the No. 1 outside linebacker and No. 2 player in the state. First team 6A All-State by the Alabama Sports Writers Association as a senior in 2013. Selected to the AL.com 2013 Super All-State Team. Finished his senior year of high school with an insane 43 tackles for loss and 17.5 sacks. Chose Alabama over offers from 28 other schools, including Auburn and UCLA.
College: Spent his first two seasons at outside linebacker before moving inside pre-2016 season. First two collegiate starts came in the College Football Playoff against Washington and Clemson, where he totaled 18 tackles and 1.5 sacks between the two games.
Strengths: Athletically gifted linebacker with terrific size and strength. Plays with a relentless energy and will bring the fight to blockers and ball carriers. Flies to the football with excellent pursuit speed. Has the range to work core to sideline and keep himself clean with a steady flow to the ball. Short area quickness and change of direction are smooth. Has the bend and flexibility to corner as a speed rusher off the edge. Can stand up blockers with his punch. Good stack/shed and sifts through trash without getting locked up. Showed the athletic ability and closing burst on the ball to match up in man coverage against flex tight ends.
Weaknesses: Unrefined mentally and technically. Takes overly aggressive angles and paths to the ball far too often. Runs himself out of plays with horrific pursuit angles. Misses too many tackles due to coming in too hot and only getting an arm on the runner. Slow to process his keys at times, but will get impatient and maneuver out of position looking to attack. Easily held by play action fakes and misdirections. Footwork can be overaggressive in coverage and will bite on the first jab step he sees.
Summary: Evans has all of the athletic and physical traits you want in a linebacker with none of the refinement. His first two opportunities to start at Alabama were in the playoffs, after Shaun Dion Hamilton went down with a knee injury. Evans’ athleticism put him on the stat sheet early and often, but his mental processing and poor decision-making resulted in just as many negative plays.
His paths to the ball are far too aggressive, as Evans will run himself completely out of plays or at least put himself in a disadvantageous position to make a tackle. He needs to break down in space and wrap up much better, or he’ll continue to be a liability as a finisher. Evans has exceptional burst and range however, traits that show up in coverage and against the run. He matched up in the slot against flex tight ends and running backs against Clemson, and showed the tools to become a real asset in that role if he can develop his footwork and technique.
Right now Evans is a big, physical, aggressive athlete who can stack-and-shed blocks and run to the football with the best of them. Unfortunately there are a lot of important aspects to playing off-ball linebacker that he desperately needs to work on, although one year at the position and two starts is hardly a large enough sample to judge him harshly on. If he takes big strides this season, Evans has the tool set of a first round pick, especially when you consider his ample abilities as a speed rusher off the edge, should a team choose to deploy him there. Much of his game has more of a day three feel to it right now however, so Evans will need to show significant improvement in his mental processing, angles and tackling to take the boom/bust label off his draft profile.
Predicted Value Range: Round 2