The Cincinnati Bengals continue to look at linebackers in this year’s draft as they host Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans for a top 30 visit.
Outside of the offensive line, analysts have been predicting the Cincinnati Bengals to take a top linebacker with their first-round selection in this year’s draft. One name that has been popping up in those mock drafts is Alabama linebacker, Rashaan Evans. With the linebacker groups poor play and number of injuries last season, it’s not a surprise the team wants to keep looking at the position.
Even after signing Cincinnati native linebacker Preston Brown from the Buffalo Bills this offseason to a one-year deal, the team is still taking a good hard look at this year’s linebacker class. The suspension of linebacker Vontaze Burfict likely plays a big part in the searching. The Bengals have been going through middle linebackers on a yearly basis and drafting one for them to develop themselves could be their answer.
Evans graded best when either rushing the passer in blitz packages or stopping the run game. Replacing former Alabama linebacker Rueben Foster this last season, Evans saw more time in the middle of the defense. His abilities to get into the backfield and not only make tackles in the run game but get after the passer should be something the Bengals take note of.
During his final season with the Crimson Tide where he earned most of his career snaps, Evans tied the team lead with 74 tackles. The second-team All-SEC pick in 2017 also hauled in 13 tackles for a loss and 6 sacks which showed his abilities to get into backfields and disrupt plays.
Cincinnati struggled against the run last season and part of that was the poor linebacker play and the number of injuries at the position. Evans could be a linebacker that could be moved around the defense as he has played both inside and outside at Alabama. Pairing him with linebacker Carl Lawson on the edges in a 3-4 on special packages would be something to watch.
The Bengals still need a linebacker that can drop back into coverage and that’s where Evans will need more time to develop. The young linebacker still has room to grow and his little experience at Alabama (1,126 snaps, 644 of which came this last season) was just a glimpse of what he could do with the right coaching and system. His athletic abilities and speed could be great for the Cincinnati defense as they can develop him into a better coverage linebacker.
According to Pro Football Focus, Evans only allowed one passing touchdown while in coverage and had two pass breakups. He could be a very interesting choice for the Bengals if they decide to draft a linebacker in the first round. It’s hard to guess where he would be plugged into the defense as new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin seems to be making a lot of changes to the defense. One thing is for sure, the Bengals want to be more aggressive on defense and bringing in Evans would allow them another player they can blitz from anywhere.