Our next NFL Draft Scouting Report is on a player who has continued UCF’s middle linebacker legacy:
Evans came to UCF from just across the Mississippi from New Orleans in Waggaman, Louisiana as a three-star who attracted attention from some SEC schools. He immediately saw plenty of the field, playing in 48 career games, but didn’t see much action as a starter until he was a senior thanks to UCF’s crowded linebacker corps.
He made the best of the decks being cleared in 2018 and 2019, tallying 99 and 112 tackles (tops in The American for 2019), respectively. As a result, he was named to The American’s All-Conference Second Team, and was an honorable mention All-American according to Phil Steele.
Evans was also a beloved teammate, as was evidenced by his being named team captain in 2019, and getting his first two career carries on offense in garbage time of the Knights’ bowl win over Marshall, nearly getting what would have been his only career TD.
- Position: Linebacker
- Height: 6’1”
- Weight: 240 pounds
- 40: 4.85 seconds (per The Athletic)
Three Good Things
He’s a Ball Magnet. Just like every good middle linebacker should be, Nate is always around the ball. He averaged over 100 tackles the last two seasons - 62 per season solo plus 23 tackles for loss total - and that doesn’t happen without being a voracious film watcher, let alone an amazing athlete.
Motor. When you’re on the field as long as UCF’s defense was the last few seasons (they averaged being on the field 78 plays per game over the last two seasons), you have to be well conditioned to be a top defensive contributor. Nate was that and more, as his stats bear out. Just look at the Cincinnati game last year, when he recorded a career-high 17 tackles
Leadership. Evans was well-respected among all of his teammates, being named team captain. He was also a stand-up dude in interviews as well.
One Not-so-Good Thing
He’s a Tweener. When you’re 6-1 as a linebacker in the NFL, you have to be super fast. Nate didn’t get the opportunity to run at any events, so we’re not sure of his 40 time. But he is stuck in that is-he-big-enough/is-he-fast-enough gray zone that might make teams shy away on Draft Day.
Best-Case NFL Comparison
Myles Jack. Jack was also a relatively undersized (6-1, 245) but athletic linebacker coming out of UCLA, and actually played some running back there. He slid in the draft because of an injury that prevented him from running the 40 at the combine. Still, Jacksonville snapped him up at the #36 slot.
Evans won’t go that high because of his speed, but should he enter a camp and show improvement in that department, the comparisons are too good to pass up.
Day three (Round 4-7)/UDFA. Evans’ speed is a definite question mark, but it’s something he can improve working with pro strength and conditioning departments. He would constitute a bit of a project, but an intriguing one to say the least. He’s already on at least one team’s radar:
#Bengals show interest in UCF linebacker Nate Evans https://t.co/QG5mVyaqsM— Cincy Jungle (@CincyJungle) April 11, 2020