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NFL Draft prospect to know: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

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Would the Cowboys draft a LB in the first round if Roquan Smith is off the board?

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Blogging The Boys will begin taking a look at some of the NFL Draft prospects that will be in the 2018 NFL Draft class. Some weeks, we will look at potential targets that will be within the Cowboys’ expected draft range. Others, we will highlight some of the elite members of the class.

The 2018 Senior Bowl is next weekend, which means this draft process is going faster than you may realize. Before you know it, the NFL Combine will be happening in Indianapolis, and then the Dallas Cowboys will be hosting the 2018 NFL Draft soon after that. Time flies.

We are committed to providing the BTB community with profiles of some of the prospects that may potentially be on the Cowboys’ draft radar. Some fans want the front office and coaching staff to get franchise quarterback Dak Prescott a weapon in the first round. Others, though, would like to continue building a defense that played pretty well during the second half of last season.

Last week, we took a look at one of the more electrifying players in the draft class: Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Christian Kirk. We noted that he could be an ideal fit for Dak in this offense.

We have heard the term “Dak-friendly” a lot lately, signaling that the front office and coaching staff want to build its offense around what Dak Prescott does best. Well, a player that would help Dak significantly would be Kirk. His playmaking ability in the slot would give Dak a a go-to target and give a Cowboys a big-play maker on the offense, something that would benefit Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott.

This week, however, we move back to the defensive side of the ball.

One of my favorites, and a favorite of many Cowboys fans following the draft process, is Georgia Bulldogs linebacker Roquan Smith; however, the 2017 Butkus Award winner will likely be a top-ten pick after an incredible junior campaign. With him off the board, would the Cowboys want to address the linebacker position on day one?

If so, here is one potential candidate.

Rashaan Evans — linebacker, Alabama Crimson Tide

6-foot-3
234
Senior

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Alabama defense is known to be one of the better units in all of college football during the Nick Saban era. It seems like there are multiple high-level NFL prospects on that defense each and every year.

One of the better players on that stacked defense is senior linebacker Rashaan Evans. Evans, like many Alabama players, was a blue-chip recruit coming out of high school, but the way he ended up at Alabama was one of the more interesting recruitment stories.

Evans grew up in Auburn, Alabama — the home of the Tide’s biggest rival, the Auburn Tigers. Evans was a star for Auburn High School and was even considered a heavy lean to the hometown team. The talented linebacker grew up minutes away from campus and many assumed he would join the program following Auburn’s 2013 National Championship appearance.

That looked like it would come to fruition when Evans’ bio was listed on Auburn’s official website during 2014 National Signing Day, however, it was eventually announced that Evans inked with Saban and the Crimson Tide, as the 5-star linebacker spurned his hometown school. (His bio is still listed on Auburn’s site. No, really, look for yourself.)

Evans, as you might expect, arrived in Tuscaloosa with a lot of hype. Not only was he a five-star prospect, but he was five-star linebacker that left their arch-rival’s backyard for them. As a freshman, he played sparingly. Playing on both special teams and in a reserve role on defense, Evans totaled 14 total tackles, two tackles-for-loss, and even got to the quarterback once. It was a solid debut season for the Auburn native.

Evans played a little bit more as a sophomore. He recorded just 10 total tackles in 2015, he recorded twice as many TFL’s on the season, and got to the quarterback on four occasions during his true-sophomore season for the Tide. He was slowly developing into a solid backer for Saban’s defense.

2016 was the season the linebacker really burst onto the scene for one of the best teams in college football. In his junior season, the coaching staff decided to move Evans from outside to inside, and he flourished. Evans recorded career numbers all across the board: 52 solo tackles, 31 solo tackles, 4.5 tackles-for-loss, two passes defended, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and four sacks. The stud linebacker could have made the jump to the NFL, but returned for his senior season — in part because he wanted to avenge Alabama’s title game loss to Deshaun Watson and the Clemson Tigers.

If 2016 was an eye-opening season, 2017 cemented the building hype surrounding Evans. After Reuben Foster departed for the NFL, Evans was tasked with stepping up as leader for the Alabama defense — which suffered many injuries at the linebacker position in the latter parts of the season. The senior linebacker made his final collegiate season his best, as he recorded 74 total tackles, 35 solo tackles, 13 TFLs, three passes defended, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and six sacks. Evans’ season earned him second team All-SEC honors.

Now, Evans enters the draft process as one of the most hyped players at his position. He is widely considered to be one — of many — Alabama players drafted in the first-round this upcoming April. NFL Draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah has Evans going 30th to *gulp* the Eagles. Meanwhile, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has Evans going off of the board two picks after the Cowboys, 21st to the Buffalo Bills. Here is what he has to say about the Alabama LB:

The Bills linebacker corps is solid, but it’s missing a true middle linebacker with range and the ability to make major stops against the run. Rashaan Evans has the football IQ, athleticism and instincts to be a game-changer on defense.

As you can tell, Evans appears to be a prospect that many in the draft world are high on. With all of the Cowboys troubles defending the run — especially when Sean Lee was sidelined with injury — would Dallas consider the Alabama linebacker on day one? Sure, Jaylon Smith showed some signs of optimism after playing all 16 games following a devastating injury, but are the Cowboys ready to put all of their chips in his basket?

That doesn’t even include Anthony Hitchens, who played so well this past season. What happens if he bolts in free agency? There seems to be a lot of questions at this particular position for the Cowboys. Maybe Evans can help answer them.





What do you think, BTB? Would you like to see Rahsaan Evans in silver and blue?

*Gifs courtesy of Sky Designs; stats gathered from sports-reference.com.

Catch up with our previous installments below!

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Austin Bryant, DE Clemson

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Tarvarus McFadden, CB Florida State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Martinas Rankin, OL Mississippi State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Daron Payne, DT, Alabama

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Derwin James, Safety, Florida State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Ronnie Harrison, Safety, Alabama

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Deontay Burnett, WR, USC

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

NFL Draft Prospect to know: Vita Vea, DT, Washington Huskies

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M