ARIZONA CARDINALS

Cardinals draft pick LB Evan Weaver boasts intensity with productivity

May 1, 2020, 3:58 PM | Updated: 6:34 pm

California Golden Bears linebacker Evan Weaver (89) celebrates in the final moments of the college ...

California Golden Bears linebacker Evan Weaver (89) celebrates in the final moments of the college football game between the California Golden Bears and the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on November 23, 2019 in Palo Alto, CA. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

(Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Cardinals draft pick Evan Weaver, who was selected in the sixth round by Arizona just last week, might be getting a fast reputation for being intense.

His signature moment so far was revealing that he broke his dresser after a team that he thought would select him earlier in the draft ended up passing on him.

“I actually picked it up and threw it into the wall,” he confirmed to Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Friday. “It was an exciting moment in my household.”

But Weaver, more a football player than an angry caricature, has intensity that can be channeled for good with the Cardinals. He was an open book in acknowledging that intensity when he talked to media in a video conference call on Friday, and said he’s always had it.

“That [intensity]’s definitely something I’ve had my entire life,” he said. “Whether it was first-grade soccer, first-grade tackle football, baseball. Always somebody who wanted to win in everything I did and most of the time found a way, and if I couldn’t, figure out what I did wrong.”

Weaver said he loves football, and loves to tackle. The stats back that up. At Cal, he had 181 tackles in 2019 and 336 his last two seasons combined. Fortunately for him and his new team, Weaver said the Arizona playbook is similar in scheme and terminology to what they ran at Cal.

“I think tackling comes down to just wanting to actually tackle the person,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys that are willing to say that they want to do it, but then you see missed tackles, you see people getting ran over, all this stuff.”

As a kid, his mom would yell at him from the stands to tackle, and if he missed a tackle, he’d have to do 50 push-ups before he could get in the car after the game. Both of his parents were into sports, as his mom played soccer and dad did track & field.

But despite the intensity and the tackling numbers, perhaps Weaver has been overlooked. The aforementioned broken dresser was a product of him going later than he expected, despite being Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2019. He had offers out of high school from Cal, Arizona, Army, Boise State and Colorado State, according to 247Sports, a far cry from the Clemsons and Alabamas of the world despite being state defensive player of the year at Gonzaga Prep.

“I wouldn’t say I was a late bloomer because in high school I was state defensive player of the year, and I had I think 129 tackles as a D tackle my senior year,” he said. “And then I think it was just something that I found my fit at inside linebacker and just ran away with it.

“It fuels me a little bit, but I’m more than just worried about what other people have to say. I’m worried about getting my job done and doing whatever I can to help the Cardinals win games. So wherever that may be, special teams, playing time, that doesn’t really matter. I’m just here to help everybody win games.”

An NFL.com scouting profile written before the draft praised his production and described him as a “great teammate and elite competitor,” but the knock on Weaver is his athleticism. Weaver was asked for his response to that criticism.

“You know, 4.4 [40-yard dash times] don’t win you Super Bowls,” he said. “Guys that are actually willing to play win you super bowls. … The top six offenses in the league last year were run-heavy offenses. You’re not going to win games having your 190-pound DB/linebacker in there trying to tackle Derrick Henry. You tell me how that worked in the playoffs.”

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