Tag Archives: Rashaan Evans

New England Patriots Mock Draft 3.0, Building Depth on Defense

Steve Balestrieri
April 13, 2018 at 9:25 am ET

 

Most Draft Boards Are Starting To Stabilize

The Patriots have several options for the first two rounds in the upcoming draft that begins on April 26. They may opt to move up to take a quarterback to eventually succeed Tom Brady, stand pat with their picks or slide back, something they’ve done quite often.

While most people had the Patriots taking a tackle early if not in the first round of the draft, we felt that was not going to be the case. After investing in Tony Garcia last year and bringing back LaAdrian Waddle, our take is that they may draft one, but more for depth. Now with the news that Garcia is fully ready to go, we’ll double down with that.

For our third mock draft, we didn’t do any trading to move up or down the draft board, however, the feeling is that the Patriots will be moving around the board. They currently have no 4th or 5th round draft picks, and that will undoubtedly change. But we went with building the depth especially on defense with two linebackers, two edge players and a corner. Future concerns at QB and TE were addressed, and the latter is ready to produce immediately.

We have been using the draft tool that the folks at Fanspeak.com that we’ve been touting for awhile and it is really good and highly recommended.

In their “On the Clock” simulator, you are the GM for any NFL team. You can choose how many rounds you’d like to draft for (1-7), and pick one of several big boards to choose from. The boards are all updated every Tuesday.

The big boards for each site differ and the site has a random selection process that picks for the other 31 teams based upon the best player available and team needs that are constantly updated until it is your time to pick.

For this third mock draft (4-12), I used the big board of NFL Draft Scout.

Here is our third mock draft attempt this year: PatsFans Mock 3.0

Round 1, Pick #23 Linebacker Rashaan Evans, Alabama:

Once again Evans was still on the board at #23 and was too good a prospect to pass up. He has tremendous speed, range, and agility. Evans was the Alabama team leader in tackles, flies around the field from sideline to sideline, can cover, blitz off the edge and stuff the run. A Day 1 starter and the kind of sure-hit player the Patriots like to take in Round 1. Subsequent rounds are for reaches Read our draft profile on him here:

Round 1, Pick #31 CB, Mike Hughes, Central Florida:

Hughes is a very good press man, lock-down corner, despite not having great size, (5’10, 195-pounds) has the mentality and skill to be a very good corner at the next level. He is a physical corner that is adept at throwing receivers off their timing and is a very good tackler and run defender. He’s a versatile player with special teams value, returning a kickoff, punt and interception for touchdowns in 2017.

Round 2, Pick #43 TE, Mark Andrews, Oklahoma:
The Patriots could use an eventual replacement for Rob Gronkowski and Andrews has the same qualities as a receiver, with excellent hands, the ability to stretch the field and attack the seams and is an absolute mismatch against linebackers and most safeties.  Andrews has good size at 6’4, 254 pounds, who won the John Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end catching 62 passes for 958 yards and eight touchdowns for the Sooners. He’s not a great blocker…yet, but with some coaching can improve there.

Round 2 Pick # 63 QB, Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State:
Rudolph has the boxes checked with the prototypical size of NFL QBs at 6’4, 230 pounds and was a four-year starter for the Cowboys in their spread, up-tempo passing game. He throws an excellent deep ball with very nice touch and ball placement. The knock on him is that he played in a very simplified system and had a tendency to stare down his receivers. He’ll have to learn to process faster in the NFL and go thru his progressions, something he’ll have time to learn behind Brady.

Round 3, Pick #95 OT, Jamarco Jones, Ohio State:

Jones was a two-year starter for the Buckeyes who have developed quite a pipeline for tackles in the NFL. Jones has good size at 6’5, 310 and is a very good pass blocker, and has shown the quick feet and agility to rarely get beat by speed rushers on the edge. He’ll need to get stronger and become more physical, especially in the running game at the next level but under the tutelage of Dante Scarnecchia, he’ll get there. With the Garcia news that he’s healthy and ready to go, Jones won’t be hard-pressed to produce as a rookie.

Round 6, Pick #198 Edge, Dorance Armstrong Jr., Kansas:

Armstrong had a tremendous 2016, with 20 tackles for a loss and 10 sacks as his coaches had him pinning his ears back. In 2017, going to a more read-and-react style, those numbers dropped to 9.5 TFL and just two sacks. But he has very good speed and a quick first step. Armstrong has dropped into coverage at times, something the Patriots ask their edge players to do occasionally. He’s a good, athletic player who tackles well but needs to add some bulk at the next level.

Round 6, Pick #210 LB, Kenny Young, UCLA:

Young is an undersized, speedy, athletic linebacker who may be a candidate for the “big nickel” linebacker role the Patriots like to run in their sub-packages. He’s got plenty of speed and athleticism to play sideline-to-sideline and cover backs and tight ends in the passing game. However, he lacks the bulk and strength (6’1,236) to play on every down. He may be a Special Teams player first and work his way into a subpackage role.

Round 7, Pick #219 Edge, Joe Ostman, Central Michigan:

Ostman is a guy who’s draft profile is all over the place. While most have him as a 6th-7th round draft pick, others have him as high as a 3rd-4th round selection. He’s a high-motor, slightly undersized edge player at 6’2, 250 pounds that wins with second effort. He uses his hands well and possesses a nice spin move. He was very productive in the MAC but will have to get stronger at the next level.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

New England Patriots Mock Draft 2.0, Post Trade Edition

Steve Balestrieri
April 6, 2018 at 9:26 am ET

 

Lots of Opportunities to Move Up

With the trade of Brandin Cooks to the Rams, the Patriots draft picks now look vastly different than they did a week ago. With two picks now in both the first and second rounds, they now have plenty of options to move up and around the draft board.

For this particular mock draft, we didn’t do any trading to move up or down the draft board, although we do feel that they will most certainly do so at some point as they now have no picks in the 4th or 5th rounds of the draft.

We have been using the draft tool that the folks at Fanspeak.com that we’ve been touting for awhile and it is really good and highly recommended.

In their “On the Clock” simulator, you are the GM for any NFL team. You can choose how many rounds you’d like to draft for (1-7), and pick one of several big boards to choose from. The boards are all updated every Tuesday.

The big boards for each site differ and the site has a random selection process that picks for the other 31 teams based upon the best player available and team needs that are constantly updated until it is your time to pick.

For this second mock draft (4-5), I used the big board of Draftek.

Here is our second mock draft attempt this year: PatsFans Mock 2.0

Round 1, Pick #23 Linebacker Rashaan Evans, Alabama:

Evans somehow was still on the board at #23 and was too good a prospect to pass up. He’s a quick twitch, versatile linebacker who can line up in the middle at the Mike, or on the outside and has tremendous sideline-to-sideline speed. He can cover tight ends, running backs and is a tremendous blitzer up the A-gaps. He’s a big-time difference maker on defense and is a Day 1 starter. Read our draft profile on him here:

Round 1, Pick #31 Edge, Sam Hubbard, Ohio State:

We stuck with our original pick at #31 with Hubbard as he was still there using a different big board. He’s not a one-trick pony that can scream off the edge and nothing else. But the Patriots with their style of defense want players who can set the edge first and also rush the passer. Hubbard is a well-rounded, good defensive end prospect.

He gives that needed depth on the edge, can step in and play at a high level on Day 1, can play either side so he’s versatile and can do a bit of everything.

To see our draft profile on him click here:

Round 2, Pick #43 TE, Mike Gesicki, Penn State:
The Patriots pick up a long-term replacement for Rob Gronkowski who is/was contemplating retirement. While no one can replace the best tight end in the NFL, there are several very good options in the draft.

Gesicki has good size and moves pretty well for a guy at 6’5, 250-pounds. While he’s not an elite athlete that will leave defenders in the dust, he has the best hands of any TE in the draft and is a classic overachiever. He’s limited as a blocker and could use some more strength but would be a very good option in the flex or “move” tight end role with Gronk.

Round 2 Pick # 63 OT Tyrell Crosby, Oregon:
Crosby is an aggressive road grader in the running game, a mauler at 6’5, 320 pounds with excellent strength and power.

He has improved in pass protection and has played both tackle positions as a four-year starter for the Ducks.

Round 3, Pick #95 QB, Kyle Lauletta, Richmond:

Lauletta has been widely mock drafted to the Patriots all spring…which usually means that he won’t be coming. But by Round 3, the majority of the highly sought after quarterbacks were taken. Lauletta has the skill set to do very well with the Patriots.

He throws a nice ball and leads his receivers well, he won’t throw them into big hits. Lauletta has a quick release, very good footwork, moves well in the pocket and was a team leader. Doesn’t have a cannon for an arm but is very tough, physically, and mentally. Learning from Brady for a year or two may be just what the doctor ordered.

Lauletta’s draft profile by us can be seen here:

Round 6, Pick #198 CB, Levi Wallace, Alabama:

Wallace was a walk-on at Alabama because his father was from Tuscaloosa. High football I.Q. and considered to be a very high character player and person. Paid his dues and worked his way up to be a starter in 2017.

Was the “other guy” on the Bama defense that opponents tried to pick on. He responded with three interceptions and 18 passes defensed. Sets the edge extremely well in the running game. Lacks experience but a good developmental prospect. Good length at 6’0, 185 pounds.

Round 6, Pick #210 LB, Nick Deluca, North Dakota State:

Deluca is a three-year starter, a three-down middle linebacker who has smarts, leadership, and toughness. Deluca is a very instinctive linebacker while not a burner and doesn’t have great speed, he consistently plays faster because of his instincts. Has very good size at 6’2, 243 and covers well with good depth and can play both zone and man. Was an outstanding special teams’ player and will immediately become part of the core unit in the NFL.

Round 7, Pick #219 RB, Jordan Wilkins, Mississippi:

Wilkins has good size at 6’0, 215 and had 1000 yard season in the SEC as a senior in 2017. He paid his dues and came on strong after very little wear and tear on his body. Had only 311 career touches in his five years.

Wilkins runs with a low pad level but at times tries to bounce too much to the outside. Had 26 catches as a senior, and would be a nice addition to the running back by committee approach. His best football is still in front of him.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

What Should the Patriots Do With All of This Draft Capital?

Steve Balestrieri
April 5, 2018 at 9:23 am ET

Well, things certainly have changed in a hurry around the New England Patriots. Suddenly the talk has ceased about “how deep is the rift between Bill Belichick and his players” and centered on what is happening now with the upcoming NFL Draft.

The surprising trade of Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams has netted the Patriots the Rams 1st Round draft pick #23 later this month. The teams also swapped fourth and sixth round picks. But now the Patriots have jumped into the realm of being a major player later this month with four picks in the first 63 selections of the draft.

The team has options. So, for you older folks who remember classic television shows, we’ll play a version of “Let’s Make A Deal” with the draft.

Behind Door #1:

The team could package both first round picks and ship them to the New York Giants for the very talented and equally mercurial wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. That’s what the Giants are asking for him and although they won’t get that, it is where any talks would begin.

This would make a large segment of the fan base ecstatic as the quest for the “name player” never ends. And if you’re playing Madden NFL, the idea of Brady, Gronkowski, Beckham Jr. and Edelman would certainly be a fun way to play a video game.

This won’t work for a couple of reasons. First, the NFL isn’t a video game nor fantasy football.  The Patriots aren’t going to pay Beckham anywhere close to what he’ll want and you’d have him under your control for one season. At which time, he would most certainly be gone. Two first round picks for a one-year rental?  That was a large part of the reason to trade Cooks in the first place.

The team already has nine wide receivers on the roster with Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett, Kenny Britt, Cordarrelle Patterson, Riley McCarron, Cody Hollister and Matthew Slater.

While Beckham is a special player, wide receiver isn’t a glaring need and those first-round picks could be much better served in filling other needs.

So, what’s behind, Door #2?

The Patriots could package those picks (23,31) and move up into the Top 15 to snag a quarterback of the future, like a Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Lamar Jackson or Baker Mayfield, if they fell down the board for any reason.

Jackson is a popular pick for New England lately, he played in the Erhardt-Perkins offensive system that the Patriots use. That alone will make the learning curve much simpler for him to become in-tune with the offense.

The issue here is, will any of those players still be on the board then? Most mocks have those QBs all gone by #12. Would the top two picks the Patriots now possess (23,31) be enough capital to jump that high? Probably not, so they’d have to sweeten the pie quite a bit to jump in.

And of course, the team would have to be all-in on the quarterback that they select. And by all-in, that would have to include Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels. For if the succession plan is indeed in effect, then the QB taken will have to be someone he believes in. And it may not necessarily be the pocket passer they currently have with Brady. Jackson could easily be the guy they see as their next franchise QB. McDaniels, remember drafted a guy named Tim Tebow in Denver. So it could be a kind of QB that necessarily isn’t a clone of the Brady-type.

A lot would have to fall perfectly for the Patriots to get that type of move and the trade probably wouldn’t happen until the night of the draft. They’d see the board playing out in a certain way that they could make a move and then do it and swoop in for the next QB of the future.

And then there is finally Door #3:

In this scenario, the Patriots keep one or both picks and trade back for other draft capital. They have needs at Linebacker, on the edge, at OT, TE, RB and of course QB for the long-term.

There are plenty of good prospects that may be available to them at #23 that wouldn’t at #31, especially at linebacker, Rashaan Evans and Leighton Vander Esch have been widely thought to go between #25 and #28 with the Titans and Steelers, if not earlier.

They could then look for a QB in the 2nd or 3rd rounds (Luke Falk, Kyle Lauletta, Mason Rudolph) who they can develop over the next two or so seasons behind Brady.

This falls in line with the traditional M.O. of Bill Belichick who has said that the draft is an inexact science and the more chances you have at taking players, the better chance you do of hitting on those picks.

The Patriots draft board consistently only has about 15-20 players that Belichick believes are immediate starters, so they’re much more willing to trade back than to reach for a higher draft pick on a player that they don’t have rated that high. And finally, the Patriots are about building a 53-man roster, they’re not building a fantasy football team.

Belichick has made plenty of deals during the draft, and right now, they don’t have a 4th or 5th round draft pick after the deal with the Rams for Cooks. Expect that to change.

While the possibility for Door #2 most definitely does exist, look for the Patriots to go for Door #3. It fits with their traditional M.O. and will better serve their overall needs while still giving them a shot at a franchise QB later.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots Draft Profile, Rashaan Evans, LB Alabama

Steve Balestrieri
March 23, 2018 at 8:30 am ET

Evans New Breed of NFL Linebacker, Fast, Physical, Explosive

As the 2018 NFL Draft draws closer we’ll profile some of the players that may be on the Patriots radar or that we feel would be a great fit.

The Patriots really need more depth and a dose of athleticism and speed at the Linebacker position. They were thin at the beginning of the 2017 season and injuries to key players set them back to where it became a glaring weakness in the Super Bowl loss.

The team lost Shea McClellin in the preseason due to concussions and he missed the entire season. Top draft choice Derek Rivers who they were playing in a tweener role bouncing back and forth at DE/OLB was lost to a torn ACL in training camp as well. Dont’a Hightower missed most of the season with different injuries and was placed on IR. He was the one guy the front seven could ill afford to lose. David Harris showed that he had lost too much speed and was barely used. James Harrison was added late in the year. Kyle Van Noy and Marquis Flowers  both played well and they return and help with the depth

Hightower and Rivers return which should help the depth but inside Elandon Roberts is better suited to be a backup than a starter. He frequently was out of position and is a liability in coverage. Will the team move Hightower back inside or will they leave him on the edge? Will the team use Harvey Langi, who was also lost to NFI (Car wreck) at linebacker or will they use him too on the edge? Lots of questions here.

Rashaan Evans from Alabama comes from a Pro-ready program with Nick Saban and can step in on Day 1 and be a key contributor. With the steady influx of talent with the Tide, Evans had to be patient. But despite not being a full-time starter until 2017, he played significant snaps on Special Teams as a freshman.

Evans put the time in and saw his snaps and production increase each year. During the two playoff games in 2016, he started both and was ready for his coming out party last year. He led the excellent Crimson Tide defense with tackles (74), with 13.5 tackles for loss, six sacks and three passes knocked down, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He was All-SEC Second Team.

He’s 6’3, 234 pounds and has tremendous sideline-to-sideline speed.  He’s a quick twitch athlete who is versatile and can play inside at the Mike Linebacker position or outside as well as rush off the edge in sub-packages.

Watching the Alabama defense, he’d be an outstanding delayed Blitzer up the A-Gap. His speed would put an interior offensive lineman on their heels. He flies around the ball and is relentless. The one play that stands out was against Clemson in the national championship. He blitzed off the edge from the left. The quarterback threw a quick screen to the right. Evans after getting to the quarterback still chased down the running back for a minimal gain going across the field.

Pros:

– Tremendous speed can easily go sideline to sideline

– Tough, explosive, and a very good tackler

– Versatile can play inside or outside on the edge

– Excellent blitzer up the inside gaps

Cons

– Can sometimes overrun plays

– Some durability concerns

– Only a full-time starter for one season

What his Role Will Be:

Evans role would be to immediately take over the inside linebacker position and is a big upgrade over Roberts inside. He can cover a tremendous amount of ground and will be a big addition not only in the running game but in coverage and blitz as well.

Will his Role Change from Year 1-2?

Yes, with his ability to go from sideline-to-sideline, they can then explore the possibility of letting him call the defensive signals and as he grows more comfortable in the defense allow him to blitz more.

How Many Downs Can He Play?

Three

What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?

He’ll bump Roberts for the starting role on Day 1. While Roberts spot on the 53-man roster is probably still secure, some of the other depth players may find themselves outside looking in.

What is his ST Value?

Very good, he can be an immediate contributor and played significant STs snaps since his freshman year in college.

Conclusion:

NFL.com’s Lance Zeirlein in his profile wrote about his versatility. “Evans is an ideal inside linebacker fit for a blitz-happy 3-4 unit, but he could easily fit as a 4-3 WILL with rush potential on sub-packages,” Zeirlein said. “Evans is an early starter with high-end potential if he can stay healthy.”

Evans is a smart, tremendously athletically gifted linebacker who has the perfect work ethic that teams will covet. He wants to play, improve and above all else, puts the team first. Nick Saban has a knack for finding some outstanding talented front sevens during his tenure at Alabama and Evans is the latest of talented linebackers to move to the pros.

He and Hightower would make a great team at linebacker and he’d immediately upgrade the unit. With a linebacking core desperately in need of speed and athleticism, Evans checks the block quite easily. He can cover tight ends, running backs and even slot receivers in a pinch. He ran the all-important 3-Cone Drill in 6.95.

The problem with him is where he falls in the draft. I’ve seen Evans drafted anywhere between 16 and 25 on mock drafts. There is no way, he falls to the Patriots at #31. So, if they like him and see an opportunity, then the Patriots are going to have to move up in the 1st round and swing a deal with someone to swoop in and steal him away from other teams.

Evans’ highlight reel tape from M&M Productions can be seen here: 

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.