New York Jets Potential Draft Sleeper: LB Evan Byers


The draft is drawing closer and closer. The early part of the draft is starting to take shape. Visits have begun, private workouts are in full swing, and teams are starting to formulate their draft strategies, and the Jets aren’t any different. We have heard about workouts already, as the Jets have seen Marcus Mariota in Oregon, among other guys.

But what about the rest of the draft? Who are some guys that the Jets might target late, or even after the draft as free agents? A couple of days ago, I wrote, from a tip given to us by our good buddy Jake Steinberg. Monangai was in for a workout the other day, and the Jets like what they see on tape.

This afternoon, I have another guy for you to read about, again from Jake Steinberg. He is not scheduled for a visit as of the writing of this post, but the Jets are a fan of this young man as well. Today we are taking a look at linebacker Evan Byers from Bucknell.

Byers stands at 6’0″, 235 pounds. He didn’t attend the NFL Combine or perform at a Pro Day. So here are some notes on Evan Byers, courtesy of his Bucknell profile.

In 2013, Byers was first team All-Patriots league, and posted a career high of 129 tackles, good for ninth in school history. Byers also led his school in solo tackles and unassisted tackles for the second straight season. His 5.5 tackles per game was good for 19th in the entire nation.

Clearly, Evan Byers is a solid football player. You don’t put up those type of numbers without ability.

Now, let’s take a look at some tape on Evan Byers. Yes, it is only highlights, but with a guy that doesn’t get a lot of time on TV, it’s what we have. Let’s have a look, look carefully, he is wearing #27 for Bucknell:

We are going to already assume one issue, competition level. It will always come up with these smaller school players, so I will mention that one now, before I move on to the evaluation.

There is a lot to like on this tape. Evan Byers has excellent instincts. He gets off the ball quickly, and seems to even anticipate the snap at times. Byers also gets to the football like a man possessed. Watch on the tape. Whether Byers is moving laterally or up the field, he always has his eye on the football. Evan Byers is an excellent tackler. If he gets his hands on the ball carrier, he doesn’t miss.

My one concern is in pass coverage. On the tape, we don’t see a lot of Byers in pass coverage. What we do see is Byers almost acting in a free safety role, watching the quarterback and making his way to the receiver for the tackle. It makes me wonder whether or not Byers is a bit suspect when he drops back into pass coverage. If that’s the case, he might have a tough time initially becoming a three down linebacker. We would need to see a bit more, but I am sure the Jets would uncover that in a tryout, workout, more extensive video, and any combination thereof.

But Evan Byers is a talented player, certainly worth a look. If he were drafted on the last day, or even signed after the draft, the Jets might really have a find, as they did with Damon Harrison.

Next: Meet LB Erin Henderson

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