The Arizona Cardinals added a productive value add in the sixth round of the NFL Draft when they selected California linebacker Evan Weaver. A hard-nosed, work to the grindstone type player, Weaver has continuously had to prove people wrong.
What drives his motivation for football?
"I think winning and hitting people as hard as you possibly can and really taking the soul out of people," he said.
Weaver was arguably the most productive tackler in college football last season. He led the FBS in the category with 181.
"I'm super excited to be able to play for the Cardinals and be able to hopefully prove myself one more time," Weaver said. "I couldn't be more blessed to play anywhere else then there. So I'm super excited to get going.
"I think I bring a hyper competitive guy who's willing to put in the work and do whatever it takes to win as many games as possible. And I think I bring that in. Just have to prove myself from here on out and get some wins for the Cardinals."
A three-star defensive end (per the 247Sports Composite) in the 2016 class out of Spokane (Wash.) Gonzaga Preparatory High, Weaver collected a reported 13 offers before signing and enrolling at Cal Berkeley.
Even then he felt underestimated and made sure to make his presence felt with the Golden Bears. He was elected a consensus first-team All-America last season.
"Being underestimated my whole life and people overlooking me my whole life (has fueled me)," Weaver said. "Coming from a small town in Washington playing football, you don't really get looked at a lot by colleges. Thankfully Cal picked me up and now I got picked up by the Cardinals and I'm ready to get rolling. Ready to prove people wrong and just focus more on winning games at this point."
Cardinals general manager Steve Keim was elated to get Weaver where he did. The board seemingly fell in the franchise's favor this year as nearly all of their picks were projected to be selected higher in various mock drafts across different platforms.
"Evan Weaver, University of California, he's a guy that some have said, 'Overachiever,'" Keim said. "Whatever you want to say, (he's) highly instinctive, smart, tough, competitive. The production speaks for itself. Really, really excited about him. Met him at the Senior Bowl. He walked into the room and it was two seconds until you realize the saying that, 'It's better to say whoa than sic'em.' It took two seconds to say, 'Whoa.' It was like, 'Easy Francis, let's chill out a little bit.' He's ready to roll and he's a tough guy."
When head coach Kliff Kingsbury was told about Weaver’s comment that he likes "taking the soul out of people," Kingsbury said, “That’s a bit aggressive, but that sounds like him. Like Steve said, when you meet him at the Senior Bowl, he walks in that room and he’s on fire and he’s ready to hit people in that room. That’s how he wakes up and that’s how he goes to sleep. That’s how you want him. He’s definitely going to come in with a chip on his shoulder. That’s kind of his edge out there on the football field. The production speaks for itself; he led the entire country in tackles. You talk to anybody in that program; they love what he’s about. We felt like where he was at, it’s a great fit for us.”