(Editor's Note: While the start of the 2018 NFL Draft isn't until April 26, it's never too early to profile some of the key participants. The staff of DallasCowboys.com intends to preview the landscape of the draft's top prospect, with an emphasis on possible Cowboys draft picks – from the first round to the last. Today's featured player is Alabama's Rashaan Evans.)
- Name: Rashaan Evans
- Position: Linebacker
- Height/Weight:6-1 / 232
- Honors:As a senior, Evans was named first-team All-SEC by the AP and he was among 15 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's best linebacker.
- Key Stat:Evans led the Tide with 13 tackles for loss in 2017 despite missing two games with a groin injury.
Where He's Projected:
Draft observers generally have Evans in the back part of the first round. The Cowboys are right in that area, slotted at No. 19, though free agency could determine just how important addressing linebacker will be on draft weekend.
How He Helps The Cowboys:
Although it's possible the Cowboys eventually sign a veteran linebacker in free agency, it shouldn't surprise anyone if they look to the draft and a deep class at the position, too. Evans has the size and speed to rush and cover from the middle linebacker spot in a 4-3 scheme – the spot vacated by Anthony Hitchens, who signed with the Chiefs this week. The Cowboys have confidence in Jaylon Smith's continued development, but there's no question they badly need linebacker depth, especially if Kyle Wilber also leaves as a free agent.
- Comes from a long line of Alabama linebackers. He's a square player and a wrap-up tackler.
- Finds his way to the ball by playing off blocks. Has to be careful not to guess where the ball is going. Will take himself out of position.
- Quick to react. Does a nice job of working through cracks/gaps. Will fall back inside to make tackles.
- Not afraid to step up and take on blockers. Physical player. He's generally around the ball.
- Runs well to get to the outside. Covers some ground.
- Used as a blitzer. Has some pop in his rush.
- Shows some pass rush moves. Uses a spin move to free himself.
- Type of player who doesn't come off the field. See him as a MIKE linebacker in the Cowboys' scheme.