The Arizona Cardinals believed they got a steal last year during the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Evan Weaver, a linebacker out of the University of California, was taken by the club with the 202nd-overall pick. The 6’3, 235 pounder was fresh off of an extremely productive campaign, and the Cards felt that the tackling machine should’ve come off of the board much sooner.
Back in 2019, Weaver went wild during the 13 games he appeared in for the Golden Bears. The senior defender racked up an eye-popping 181 tackles, shattering a PAC-12 record in the process. Weaver also added 2.5 sacks, three passed defensed and two forced fumbles, earning Unanimous All-American and PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors.
As a junior in 2018, Weaver enjoyed another sensational season. In 13 appearances, the Washington state native was credited with another 155 tackles, including 8.5 for a loss. Weaver tallied 4.5 sacks, six pass breakups and two interceptions (one a pick-six) as well for the Golden Bears.
Weaver’s rookie campaign with Arizona last fall was an uneventful one. The youngster failed to dress in any of the team’s 16 games, and spent all of ’20 on the Cardinals practice squad. Much more was expected out of the first-year player, but Weaver ultimately fell victim to a numbers game at the inside linebacker spot.
Ahead of Weaver on the Cards depth chart were Jordan Hicks and De’Vondre Campbell, the squad’s two veteran starters in the middle of the defense. Hicks is returning in 2021 after agreeing to a pay cut in late March. Campbell is an unrestricted free agent who’s stint with Arizona has apparently come to an end after just one year.
Isaiah Simmons, the Cardinals eighth-overall choice in ’20, will take Campbell’s place in the starting lineup. In 16 appearances (seven starts) for Big Red, the Clemson University product tallied 54 tackles, two sacks and an interception. Weaver should assume a backup role at inside ‘backer for the Redbirds, and will likely see action with the club’s special teams group as well.
The energetic Weaver will have an opportunity during this summer’s training camp to show the coaching staff what he can do. If the individual who dominated at Cal resurfaces, the Cards could have a lethal weapon on their hands for years to come.