Two former Alabama football players will attend the opening night of the NFL Draft, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Rashaan Evans.
UPDATE: Rashaan was drafted by the Tennessee Titans with the No. 22 pick in the NFL Draft first round.
Getting an invite to the opening night of the NFL Draft is a good omen for former Alabama football player, Rashaan Evans. The NFL only invites players with a good chance to be chosen in the first round.
Rashaan is not quite a first-round draft lock but his name should be called Thursday night. NFL expert Mike Mayock only has Evans rated as the third-best linebacker in the draft. Mayock rates Roquan Smith of Georgia and Tremaine Edmunds of Virginia Tech above Rashaan.
Evans is generally projected to be selected in the 20’s on draft night. Mayock has him at No. 25 to the Tennessee Titans. A couple more top pickers (Peter King and Charlie Campbell) have Rashaan at No. 23 going to the New England Patriots.
The Patriots need a linebacker. Evans could play early next to former Crimson Tide linebacker, Dont’a Hightower. Evans has said he has no team preference and just wants a chance to play.
Rashaan’s Alabama football experience impresses NFL teams. In seven CFB Playoff games, he made 38 tackles. His 11 tackle game last year in the loss to Clemson established Evans as one of college football’s top linebackers.
Tough and Versatile
Rashaan’s strengths are toughness and versatility. He fought through multiple injuries in his Alabama football career and played many games when not fully healthy. He also excelled as an edge rusher and an inside linebacker. NFL teams, constrained by 53-player rosters value players who can deliver at multiple positions.
The only real doubt in the minds of NFL teams is Rashaan’s injury recovery. Because of a nagging groin injury, Evans did not sprint at the NFL Combine or at either of the Alabama football Pro Days. If he slides into the second-round, it will be the question if he has lost some speed.
The son of two former Auburn students, including a father who played football at Auburn, Rashaan grew up in Auburn. It did not deter him from choosing Alabama for college. In an era when many highly sought college players transfer when adversity blocks their ambitions, Rashaan was not given that option.
Reported by Terrin Waack of tidesports.com, Rashaan had strict directions from his mother, Dr. Chenavis Evans,
One thing we said was once you make that (college choice) decision, you will not transfer. You will go to school and finish. If you don’t play football, that’s fine, but that’s where you will graduate.
It is easy to see where Rashaan learned resilience and determination. Those two traits will serve him well in the NFL.
Thursday could be a record night for Alabama football. Four first-round picks will tie the Crimson Tide one season, draft record. Five picks would break the record.