Round 1 (No. 17 overall): Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Let’s face it, linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Roquan Smith are going in the top 15. My next two choices would have been safety Derwin James and defensive tackle Vita Vea, but I think they’ll be gone, too.
That makes Rashaan Evans next in line–and I’m absolutely stoked about it. The Chargers made it clear they need better players at the linebacker position. Evans is a fast, hard-hitting linebacker who plays like there’s no tomorrow. He can defend the run, drop back in coverage and rush the passer. The 6-foot-3, 234-pounder also has the versatility to line up at multiple linebacker spots, which he did for the Crimson Tide.
He didn’t have a ton of starting experience for Bama (you have to wait in line when your’e a member of the best program in college football), but he did play a good amount of snaps over his four-year career. He showed what he can do as a full-time starter in his final season, too. In 2017, Evans took over for Reuben Foster at middle linebacker and earned All-SEC honors after finishing with 74 total tackles, including 13 for loss, seven quarterback hurries, six sacks, three pass deflections and one forced fumble. He had 30 defensive stops (a “win” for the defense), as well as the highest pass-rush productivity among draft-eligible linebackers and third-most quarterback pressures among FBS linebackers this past season, as noted by PFF.
Pairing the athletic Evans, who I believe would take over for Kyle Emanuel at the SAM linebacker position, with MIKE linebacker Denzel Perryman is exciting. Add in a bounce-back year from WILL linebacker Jatavis Brown, and this group would go from being a big weaknesses to a respectable strength.