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2018 NFL mock draft: Rashaan Evans would be a steal for the Patriots

If New England doesn’t make a big splash with a quarterback, the Alabama linebacker can push for a starting job.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Will the New England Patriots take a quarterback high in the 2018 NFL Draft, or won’t they? That’s going to be one of the major storylines Thursday night as the Patriots have two first-round selections in the draft.

With pick Nos. 23 and 31, New England could conceivably jump into the back half of the top 10 to get a quarterback. Or they could stay on their picks and see who is left. If the Patriots don’t take a quarterback, they can load up and re-stock a roster that took the team to the Super Bowl.

In the SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft, Rich Hill of Pats Pulpit is back to re-stock the team.

31. New England Patriots: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

Hill: The Patriots filled their most glaring weakness on the roster by adding offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey at 23rd overall and all other roster needs are with an eye toward 2019 and beyond. They need a quarterback, but the five first-round prospects are already off the board, so they’re able to turn their focus to the defensive side of the ball.

New England should be fine on the defensive line after adding Adrian Clayborn and Danny Shelton, but they could use some help at linebacker or any of the defensive back positions. Dont’a Hightower is an elite player who is always injured and while Kyle Van Noy is a solid player, Bill Belichick’s defense falls apart when there’s only one good linebacker available; depth at the position is extremely important.

The Patriots could also use help at safety (both Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung will be 31 years old this season) and at cornerback (Jason McCourty and Eric Rowe will be free agents, while Cyrus Jones and Jonathan Jones are coming off season-ending injuries), but with only three defensive backs off the board at this point, I felt confident that some top talent would still be available when the Patriots pick again at 43rd overall.

Analysis: At first glance, my immediate instinct was to say this pick should’ve been a defensive back. But it’s true that there will be some good ones still there with the 43rd pick. Evans may not be, and there’s a significant drop off at the position once he’s gone. With that in mind, Evans is a steal with the 31st pick.

At the least Evans is a high-end depth piece for the Patriots because of his ability to line up on the outside and inside. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he supplanted Van Noy in the starting lineup. If the Patriots don’t make the big splash on a quarterback early, it’s smart to take the best players and fit them in.

Dan Kadar’s top five players remaining

  • 23. Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
  • 26. Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
  • 30. Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida
  • 31. Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford
  • 32. Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

The final selection of the 2018 SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft is coming up at 1 p.m. ET. Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation will be here to close things out with the pick for the Philadelphia Eagles.


What grade do you give the pick of Rashaan Evans by the New England Patriots?

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