Now that free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft draft are (mostly) behind us, it’s time to take a closer look at the Atlanta Falcons’ roster heading in to the summer. Outside of a few additions and subtractions here and there in the course of training camp and the preseason, this is the roster Atlanta will be working with during the 2022 season.
We’ll kick things off with a look at the projected starters and players competing for those spots. Next up is linebacker. The Falcons return a handful of players from last year’s squad—though the status of Deion Jones is uncertain—and also added a number of veterans and a second-round rookie in Troy Andersen.
Next up, veteran addition and former first-rounder Rashaan Evans.
LB Rashaan Evans
Age: 26 (27 during 2022 season)
Contract: $1.65M cap hit in 2022, free agent in 2023
Career Production: 59 games played, 50 games started | 317 total tackles, 196 solo, 15.0 TFL, 1 FF | 17 total pressures, 3.0 sacks, 8 PD, 2 INT
2021 Production: 12 games played, 11 games started | 57 total tackles, 35 solo, 3.0 TFL, 1 FF, 6.6% MTR | 1 total pressure, 2 PD, 2 INT, 76.0% completion rate allowed, 82.2 passer rating allowed | 44.5 overall PFF grade
Previous Teams: Drafted in the 1st Round (22nd overall) by the Tennessee Titans (2018-2021), Atlanta Falcons (2022)
The Falcons are looking at a near-total rebuild at linebacker this season, with Foyesade Oluokun departing in free agency and Deion Jones seemingly destined to play elsewhere. One of the first moves Atlanta made to shore up the position was signing veteran Rashaan Evans, who spent the entirety of his rookie contract with the Tennessee Titans. A former first-round pick, Evans never quite lived up to his draft status but did carve out a starting role for the majority of his time in Tennessee.
Evans is a physical thumper at linebacker who is at his best playing the run. He’s also shown off some impressive ability as a blitzer, particularly during his seasons with Dean Pees at the helm of the defense. Where Evans has struggled is in coverage—he’s not a standout athlete and can be a liability when matched up against good TEs and RBs.
A reunion with Dean Pees made a ton of sense for both Atlanta and Evans. He’s played his best football under Pees, who found ways of limiting his exposure in the passing game while emphasizing his run-stuffing and blitzing ability. This scheme is a great fit for him, and it should result in a bounce-back season for the former first-rounder.
Projection: Rashaan Evans is a favorite to start at one of the linebacker positions for the Falcons. He’s a plus as a run-stuffer and blitzer, but needs to be hidden in coverage. It’s possible that Atlanta will employ a rotation and sub out Evans for Mykal Walker or rookie Troy Andersen in obvious passing situations.