Draft Review: Jahri Evans
What NFL talent evaluators were saying about Evans before he was drafted
GOSSELIN DRAFT ANALYSIS: Evans was a blocking machine on the offensive line at Frankford High School in Philadelphia with a slew of Power 5 schools on his recruiting trail. But he broke his leg in a pickup basketball game before his senior year, forcing him to miss the season, and the recruiters backed off. So Evans attended Bloomsburg University on an academic scholarship – but emerged as one of the greatest players in the program’s football history. He redshirted as a true freshman and then spent his second year as a backup. But he started his final three seasons, earning Little All-America honors his final two years and also finishing as a finalist those two seasons for the Upshaw Award as small-college football’s best blocker. He measured 6-4 ½, 316 pounds at the 2006 NFL combine, running a 5.25 40-yard dash and bench-pressing 225 pounds only 20 times. Gosselin ranked him as the ninth-best guard in the draft and projected him as a fourth/fifth round selection. The New Orleans Saints selected him in the fourth round with the 108th overall selection.
Here’s what eight NFL talent evaluators said about Evans leading up to his draft:
Scout: Disappointing. Second day (rounds 4-7).
Personnel director: Lighter on his feet than the Southern Cal linemen (second-round picks OT Winston Justice and G Deuce Lutui). Early 4.
Offensive line coach: A real reach. You’d have to be desperate to take him in the first day (first three rounds).
Head coach: Fourth round. Like him better than (Mark) Setterstrom (an All-Big Ten offensive tackle from Minnesota).
General manager: Raw.
General manager: 4th round.
General manager: Interesting. He was being recruited by all the bigs (in high school) before he got hurt. Big athletic kid with a mean streak. Dominates at that level like he should. But he’s hard to gauge because you just don’t see him (on tape) against anybody. Smart kid with the tools. Fifth round.
General manager: Priority free agent for us.
HALL OF FAME RESUME: Evans was the 17th offensive lineman selected in the 2006 draft but among the first to step onto an NFL field. He moved into the lineup at right guard in training camp when an injury sidelined incumbent Jemane Mayberry and then stayed there for 11 seasons with the Saints. He went to his first Pro Bowl in his fourth season in 2009 – the year the Saints won their only Super Bowl. That started his string of six consecutive Pro Bowls and four consecutive first-team All-NFL selections. He didn’t miss a game until his eighth season, sitting out twice, then missed five more games in 2015, which ended his streak of Pro Bowls. He started all 183 games of his career. He was voted to the 2010 NFL All-Decade team and was enshrined in the Saints’ Hall of Fame in 2020. Last month he was voted one of the 28 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023 in his first year of eligibility.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Rick Gosselin spent 20 years as the NFL columnist for the Dallas Morning News, including 20 offseasons studying and researching prospects for the NFL draft. He didn’t watch any tape – he was a writer, not a scout – but he talked to the men who did watch tape. He built a network of NFL general managers, head coaches, personnel directors, scouts and assistant coaches from all 32 teams who would share with him their analyses of players. Gosselin used their insights to build his own draft board, Top 100 board and mock drafts. For 10 consecutive years he had the best Top 100 board in the country (2001-10), according to the Huddle Report, and three times he produced the best mock draft.