Draft season is upon us, so I will periodically watch film on some of the upcoming prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. Typically, I choose players that I believe may fit the Buffalo Bills’ scheme, players on whom I have received some information, or just prospects who are interesting to me. Usually I will watch at least four games of a prospect before I come to final conclusions on their traits and will then assign a grade. During my film sessions I take copious, detailed notes, so I will try to share them with you in a manner that is digestible. These notes will not be final conclusions. Instead, they’re just pieces of information that I carry with me. Sometimes they will carry little weight in my final thoughts on a prospect because those traits may or may not shine through over the course of a season. With that said, enjoy the process and here are my notes from:
Rashaan Evans vs. Ole Miss, Florida State, Arkansas, Texas A&M
Statistics over four games-19 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 1 pass deflection, 1 fumble recovery
- Possesses good athletic ability (AA) overall, which includes good closing speed and pursuit.
- Ability to scrape with very good lateral agility to leverage and pursue versus outside runs. Takes good angles and then lets the player know that he is there on contact.
- Capable tackler vs. the run and along the perimeter in the passing game.
- Evans’s use of hands is phenomenal. Always leads with them, rarely lets blockers get into his chest, physical tone setter versus inside runs and at the point of attack. Loves to punish the offensive lineman on contact, then disengage and make the tackle. Can disengage with strength or leverage.
- Competitive: ‘whatever it takes’ attitude
- Above average key and diagnose skills from run to pass
- Used as pass rusher off the edge, typically to the field. Comes off the edge in a two or three point stance.
- Utilized as a blitzer a lot from the inside linebacker position.
- Good get off, explosiveness as a pass rusher, especially compared to other LBs. His explosiveness paired with his physicality, bend, change of direction and relentless pursuit offers an incredible amount of versatility. Possesses a nice stutter rush and spin move.
- As an edge rusher, processes the drop of the quarterback and changes his angle of rush rather well.
- Able to blitz from the edge or from the inside linebacker position. Creates havoc as a blitzer up the middle. Times stunts and games well with interior defensive linemen and other linebackers when asked to execute a cross dog blitz.
- Through these four games his coverage skills leave a lot to be desired. Played the ‘rat’ role often, no real coverage responsibility; just read the QB and roam the middle.
- High cut, runs with high pad level, which affects his change of direction in the open field vs. TEs and RBs. His change of direction doesn’t match up as well vs. skill players. Loses speed when needing to change direction, which is much more noticeable in the open field versus in the box.
- Wasn’t asked to play man coverage much. When he did, it was vs. TEs. Peeks into the backfield at the QB too often at the top of routes when in man coverage, allowing receivers to slightly separate.
- Fixates on the QB in zone or ‘rat’ coverage. Easily moved by the QB’s eyes, so QBs can freeze him, which causes him to lose sight or never see crossers entering his zone.
- As a blitzing linebacker he is full throttle and fails to recognize the running back staying in to block him. Running backs use Evans’s aggressiveness against him and cut him rather easily.
- Chooses to go through you as opposed to around you as a pass rusher, not much avoidance as a rusher from the LB position.
- Doesn’t appear to have a pass rush plan or an arsenal of moves.
- Plays at one speed, which is his gift and curse.
Evans is definitely a fit to take over at Mike linebacker if the Bills decide to move on from Preston Brown this offseason.