Tennessee Titans trade up, select LB Rashaan Evans with 22nd pick

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Linebacker Rashaan Evans
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Linebacker Rashaan Evans /

The Tennessee Titans kicked off their 2018 NFL Draft by trading up and using the 22nd overall pick on Alabama LB Rashaan Evans.

This year’s NFL Draft was a peculiar one for Tennessee Titans fans. One year removed from having the 5th and 18th overall picks, the Titans owned the 25th pick in the draft. The wait was gut-wrenchingly long, primarily because potential Titans targets began to come off the board well into the late teens.

GM Jon Robinson saw that his main target might not have made it to him at No. 25, so he made a move to secure his prized possession: Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans. While many were expecting or hoping Boston College EDGE Harold Landry would be the guy Robinson was making a move for, Evans made as much sense as the pure pass-rusher.

The 6-3, 234 pound Evans was a rotational player throughout his first three years with Nick Saban, and became a full-time starter in 2017 after the departure of Reuben Foster. In his sole year as a starter, Evans was a menace in a variety of ways, racking up 74 tackles, 13.0 tackles for loss, 6.0 sacks, three pass deflections, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

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What makes Evans such an intriguing prospect is his multidimensionality. He was recruited as an edge pass-rusher, but was converted to an off-ball linebacker because of his instincts and run-stuffing ability. Evans still demonstrated exceptional pass-rush skills when blitzing and when lined up on the edge in passing down situations; something that Mike Vrabel likely paid close attention to, considering “front multiplicity” will be a staple of his defense.

At times, Evans isn’t as aggressive as you’d like him to be when going north-to-south, but when he gets going, he can knock offensive players to the ground with supreme power. He is adept at getting to the sideline on outside running plays and displayed solid coverage skills at Alabama.

Evans is more than likely going to be a full-time starter at inside linebacker for the Titans from day one. He will be Avery Williamson’s direct replacement and be able to contribute more in coverage and in pass-rush than the former Titan could.

The Titans gave up their fourth round choice this year in order to move up with the Baltimore Ravens, but got a sixth round pick in return. The Titans have two selections tomorrow night: #57 and #89, in the second and third round, respectively.