New England Patriots could target Rashaan Evans in 2018 NFL Draft

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 01: Rashaan Evans
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 01: Rashaan Evans /

The New England Patriots could target Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans with one of their two first-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft.

The New England Patriots are in a position of strength heading into the 2018 NFL Draft. While there were some defections in free agency, New England did well to replace the players who left.

The Patriots were especially active on the trade market, completing four trades. Two were completed with the Cleveland Browns, one with the Oakland Raiders and one with the Los Angeles Rams.

The Patriots traded away wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Rams but received a first-round pick as part of the return package. Cooks have a solid single season with the Patriots, but New England will be sure to maximize that first round pick they received.

In addition to the No. 23 pick they received from the Rams, New England owns their own first round pick, No. 31. Two first round picks gives New England a ton of options heading into the draft. Will the Patriots stay pay and pick at those spots? Will they move down and collect more picks later on? Or could they package them together and move up in the draft?

There have been rumors that the Patriots are fans of Oklahoma quarterback, Baker Mayfield. If they believe Mayfield is the answer for their future quarterback, they will undoubtedly have to trade up in the first round to land him. Packaging their two first round picks could get them into the top-10.

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If the Patriots stay pat, they could land Oklahoma State quarterback, Mason Rudolph. The Patriots had a private workout with Rudolph recently, so he could be someone they target at the end of the first round.

Another player to keep an eye on if the Patriots do not move around in the first round is Alabama linebacker, Rashaan Evans.

ESPN’s Mike Reiss named Evans as a prospect the Patriots could consider as he should be available when New England is on the clock with the first of their two picks. Evans would inject some youth, athleticism and speed to a unit that was hampered by injuries last season and sometimes underperformed.

Linebacker is one of the biggest question marks for New England currently. Injuries are a major concern, as Kyle Van Noy and Dont’a Hightower both missed time in 2017. James Harrison has yet to re-sign, while David Harris announced his retirement.

Other than Van Noy and Hightower, only Elandon Roberts and Marquis Flowers are the only other linebackers on the roster with NFL experience. Adding a player at the position with a high round draft pick would make some sense.

If Evans is there when the Patriots come on the clock, they would be getting quite the player. Evans had 74 total tackles last season with Alabama, including 13 tackles for loss and six sacks. He also added three defended passes and one fumble recovery for good measure.

Next: 2018 NFL Draft Targets

That kind of production is something New England would welcome to their linebackers group.