LB Evan Weaver, California

6’2” – 237 lbs. – 4.76

Rotated into the defense as a defensive end as a true freshman, then moved to inside linebacker the following year and started the second half of the season, finishing with 55-2.0-0.0. Became a full-time starter as a junior, finishing with 155-8.5-4.5, then followed that up with 181-11.5-2.5 as a senior. Team captain who has adequate size for a pro linebacker, although his arms measured shorter than usual at the Combine. Lined up at inside linebacker behind odd defensive fronts.

Stayed on the field every down for the Bears and racked up a ton of tackles, playing with a patient, conservative temperament; avoids committing to a course of action too soon to minimize false steps, although he’s not one of the most explosive linebackers in this year’s class. At his best when he’s allowed to flow to the ball in space. Overall athleticism is at least adequate, and does a pretty good job of reading keys, keeping his shoulder square, and flowing to the ball; has enough range to get out near the sidelines. Has some short-area quickness to work through congestion, although he can struggle to hold up against blockers when successfully engaged. Has a little bit of pop in a phone booth, with appropriate hit-and-wrap technique; overall, looked like a very reliable tackler during the games reviewed. Despite his lack of ideal length, actually does a good job of making tackles in the open field, breaking down well; looks very impressive at slinging down ballcarriers outside the hashes.

Stayed on the field on passing downs, typically in a short zone; didn’t really see him shading over opposing receivers or playing man coverage on tight ends or running backs too often. Not the rangiest player in terms of his coverage responsibilities, but has relaxed footwork when making spot-drops and is capable of getting to the sidelines to make tackles on screens/swing passes when he successfully diagnoses. Plants and drives well on crossing receivers when working in short zones. Originally played defensive end but his usage as a pass-rusher was relatively straightforward during the games reviewed, most of his pressures during the games reviewed coming as a spy or through the A-gap. Packed up seven sacks over the past two seasons in large part because of his impressive closing burst once he’s presented with a clear lane.

A highly productive linebacker who combines adequate athleticism, above-average instincts, and reliable tackling ability in the open field, he can struggle to take on blockers between the tackles but should be off the board early on the third day as a jack-of-all-trades type.

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