Indianapolis — Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome’s history with Alabama players has been well documented. He seems to have a particular fondness for drafting Crimson Tide linebackers.
Jarret Johnson was a fourth-round pick in 2003. Courtney Upshaw was taken in the second round in 2012. C.J. Mosley went in the first round in 2014.
Rashaan Evans, one of the top inside linebackers in the 2018 draft class, seemed well aware of that history as he excitedly confirmed that he planned to meet with Ravens officials at the NFL scouting combine Saturday night. And the thought of being a teammate with one Raven was particularly enticing.
Evans has a strong relationship with Mosley and the two try to get together whenever the Ravens’ middle linebacker returns to the Alabama campus. Mosley advised Evans before the combine and told him to “take things slow, be patient, [know] that this process is kind of long, but at the same time, just enjoy it.”
The two were never teammates, but Evans has followed Mosley closely since he entered the pros.
“I always try to model my game after him,” Evans said. “He’s an exceptional linebacker. He plays the game the right way. That’s somebody I always wanted to play like.”
Evans is projected to be a first-round pick in April. After playing mostly on special teams in his first two seasons at Alabama, Evans switched from outside linebacker to the inside ahead of his junior season. Still, he has plenty of pass-rushing ability with 10 sacks over his final two college seasons.
The Ravens’ primary needs are on offense, but they have some uncertainty at the weak-side linebacker spot, where Patrick Onwuasor started 13 games last year. They also are always looking for versatile players that they can move around.
“I was born to be versatile,” Evans said. “I was born to play wherever you want me to play.”