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Scouting Report: Jahri Evans

As someone who begged GM Ted Thompson for years to add veteran free agents to fill gaping holes, I’m sure as heck not going to criticize his decision to sign Jahri Evans. That said, let’s just say the situation at right guard is still a bit iffy.

That’s because after finally getting a chance to watch nearly every snap Evans played the past two seasons for New Orleans, I’m not nearly as excited about this move as I was on the day it was announced. While the former All-Pro was certainly better in 2016 than he was in 2015, he was far from impressive. In fact, I’m not sure he was any better than first-year starter Lane Taylor, who was without a doubt the O-line’s weak link.

At this point in his career, the best part of Evans’ game is pass protection, and that’s a good thing considering how often the Packers figure to throw the ball in 2017. Even at his advanced age – he turns 34 in a few months – the 318-pounder is still difficult to beat one-on-one at the line of scrimmage. That’s because he’s quick out of his stance, has a strong and efficient punch and keeps his hands inside to control defenders.

In the first video below, Evans gets his mitts on Seattle rookie nose tackle Jarren Reed and gives no ground. In the second video, he’s every bit as effective against Carolina defensive end Zach Moore. On plays like these, Evans compares very favorably to former Packer star T.J. Lang – or at least he did a year ago.

Where the new right guard doesn’t measure up to the old right guard is in dealing with smaller players in space. In the first video below, watch how easily Denver outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett gets to the quarterback. In the second video, Evans is unable to get off his initial block in time to even lay a hand on blitzing safety Daniel Sorensen of the Chiefs. Granted, that’s a really tough play, but it’s one Lang would make.

In the run game, Evans is more of a pusher than a pounder these days. That’s because his lower body strength has diminished with age. Instead, he now relies on his understanding of angles and leverage to get good positioning to seal and wall off defenders. This is shown in the video below against defensive tackle Michael Brockers of the Rams. Nothing fancy, but solid enough to help Mark Ingram pick up 16 yards.

Evans, arguably the most fluid and powerful guard in the NFL a few years ago, now struggles once he gets to the second level. In the first video below, he simply misses Bobby Wagner of the Seahawks. A few plays later, he hits K.J. Wright, but the veteran linebacker is hardly affected and is still able to make the tackle.

To be fair, Evans had many more good plays than bad plays in 2016. That said, the negative ones shown in this post are not aberrations. He struggled on an almost weekly basis with quickness – both against the run and in protection. And thanks to Father Time, it’s hard to imagine that changing for the better in 2017.

Fortunately, the Packers don’t need Evans to be a star. They simply need him to not be a liability – which is pretty much what was asked of and accomplished by Taylor last season. And based on the tape, that shouldn’t be too high of a bar for Evans to clear. The former Bloomsburg star is still a big man with a lot of pride and a lot of tricks up his sleeve who should benefit from playing the majority of his games on slower grass fields. But it might be a good idea for the coaching staff to have a viable backup plan ready – just in case.

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13 Responses “Scouting Report: Jahri Evans”

  1. Cudahy Cheesehead
    05/30/2017 at 11:25 am

    As long as his name isn’t Barclay….I’m happy!

  2. Gary
    05/30/2017 at 12:40 pm

    Michael, really enjoy the articles you put out and appreciate all the work that goes into them! Keep up the good writing!

  3. eric
    05/30/2017 at 1:21 pm

    MR: good work !

  4. Nerd
    05/30/2017 at 3:07 pm

    He struggled in Seattle, because the QB there held the ball and tried to scramble. The guy down in New Orleans got it out in under 2.5.

    Maybe with the addition of Martellus Bennett, our QB will decide to get it out too.

  5. 05/30/2017 at 6:05 pm

    The player I most want to see come training camp is Lucas Patrick at RG.
    Evans will be fine, better then Taylor and not quite as good as Lang. But can he do it for all full season and can one of the other RG’s pass him.
    You put Patrick’s testing numbers in comparison to Lang, Sitton and Baktiari and it’s a interesting study.
    Patrick more then held his own playing with one hand in the preseason last year.
    Sitton started as a rookie as did Baktiari, Patrick measures up physically with both and has a full year of NFL coaching, training and a full off season.
    I watched many reps and drills of Patrick, Evans, Amachia and Murphy at the first public OTA, Patrick is well worth your time to keep a eye on.
    Evans does move well for a old guy, Amichia took more snaps at center then OG, Murphy seemed the least able movement wise, but I withhold judgement until real blocking and pass protection comes into play.
    I am not worried about the Oline one bit. And someone mentioned Barclay, I doubt he makes he makes the team.

    • Michael Rodney
      05/31/2017 at 8:16 am

      If you are a regular reader of this site, you know we wrote about Lucas Patrick numerous times last summer.

  6. GT3
    05/31/2017 at 1:20 am

    I still feel the greatest value from the signing allowed us to draft value picks from every round. Would Lamp have been a target at the top of two?? Possibly. I probably would have rooted for it. Not taking a lineman til round 6 allowed us to really stack value without sacrificing a pick to a need selection. It at least gives us a year to breathe and maybe invest next draft.

  7. 05/31/2017 at 8:29 am

    I didn’t take time to look who the Saints RT and Center were last season but it’s doubtful both they were better than Lindsey and Bulaga. The O-Line obviously starts with each linemen beating his man on each snap, but it’s also a position where they play as a “Unit”. I have no doubt Taylor will be better this year than last. He probably won’t ever be as good as Sitton, but he should improve and at least hold his own.

    The Packers O-Line plays as a “Unit” almost better than any other O-Line in the NFL. I have yet to see another O-Line provide their QB 7, 8, or even 10 seconds to throw the ball. Their run-blocking won’t ever be confused with the Cowboys, but they’ll be more than good enough as a “Unit” with Evans in 2017. The Offense of the 2017 Packers will be as good as 2014 and the O-Line will be a big part of it.

  8. Michael Rodney
    05/31/2017 at 10:24 am

    Max Unger and Zach Strief played center and right tackle for the Saints last season. Both players are very good.

  9. TJV
    05/31/2017 at 12:04 pm

    Great work Michael, thanks.

    The best situation would be for Patrick or Murphy to grab the RG spot by the throat and not let go. Evans as a one-year insurance policy would make all kind of sense to me. But that’s probably not going to happen. So while going from Sitton/Lang to Taylor/Evans is a substantial downgrade but I think a couple of things have a good chance to mitigate the situation. First Rodgers is incredibly adept at avoiding rushers. Second, the addition of Bennett, Kendricks, and having Montgomery as a great passing threat at RB will help Rodgers get the ball out quickly when he needs to. And third, because of those additions, what I expect to be one of the Packers’ most dynamic passing games (and that’s saying something) will set up the running game, which will help the OL.

    I expect the offense will be exciting to watch. And I expect the fate of the season to be decided on the other side of the ball. Again.

  10. Jeremy
    05/31/2017 at 1:53 pm

    If nothing else, he’s an insurance policy. Best thing that could happen is it makes one of the younger guys get better by having the competition in practice. I just hope this isn’t Jeff Saturday all over again. That seemed like a smart pick up, but he didn’t take long to make it look like a waste.

  11. Nerd
    05/31/2017 at 2:34 pm

    Using Montgomery on screens and traps would slow down the pass rush by using misdirection. Maybe Mike will start doing that.

    Aaron Jones would be good with those plays, he’s got a burst and it might be hard to spot him behind the LoS.

  12. GB
    06/02/2017 at 3:05 pm

    Fantastic analysis, Michael. Thanks for the investment in time. Sounds like the tank is nearly empty as his play declines. Hopefully one more year.

    Do you think it’s realistic than another of the other candidates beats him out at starting RG?

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About Michael Rodney

Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for close to 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2006. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.