Their are a lot of really solid linebackers in this class but I don’t think anyone is getting more overlooked than Evan Weaver out of UC Berkeley. Cal has had some tremendous linebackers in their program’s history; from Ron Rivera, to Hardy Nickerson, from Jerrot Willard, to more recently Jordan Kunasyzk and you can now add Weaver to that list.
Weaver lead the nation with 181 tackles last year as a senior. He also tallied up 11.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, three pass deflections and two forced fumbles for the Golden Bears defense.
Weaver was originally recruited to play defensive end out of high school but converted to the linebacker position his sophomore year at Cal. Despite limited experience, the Spokane, WA native quickly rose to become one of the top producing linebackers in the nation. He finished with first-team all-american honors and first-team PAC-12 honors after a stellar senior season.
Here, I break down of Weaver’s film from his time at Cal.
There are a lot of things to like from Weaver’s game, however I don’t think NFL GMs or scouts will fall in love with him as much as I do. His game is a little old school, he doesn’t have impressive size and their are a couple times he looks too slow for the position.
But what he lacks in those areas he makes up for in play recognition, quickness, hustle and sure tackling. His film reminds me A LOT of Luke Kuechly. Weaver is just a step slower to the football due to his limited speed and acceleration. However, with him being still relatively new to the position I believe there is some room to grow where he can improve his reads and anticipation.
From the get-go, Weaver serves best as a two-down linebacker but I believe he can be serviceable on third downs in any short underneath zones. He will also shine on special teams making his appeal to NFL teams that much greater. Expect him to get selected in the pick 90-110 range of this year’s NFL Draft. The Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and Cleveland Browns are all in need of traditional middle linebackers and teams like the Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals who run a 3-4 have needs at the linebacker position as well.