The SideLion Report’s Detroit Lions Draft Profiles series gives an in-depth scouting analysis of college football players who could be on the Detroit Lions’ radar this spring.
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The Lions have attempted to address the gaping hole in the defensive line brought about by the departure of Suh by adding Pro-Bowler Haloti Ngata and promising Tyrunn Walker. Lions’ management can’t stop there, though. Starter Nick Fairley’s exit requires adding more depth to the front, which is why the Lions hosted Mario Edwards Jr. of Florida State for a visit on March 4th. Edwards is a versatile player who could used in a variety of ways, both off the edge and inside. But the team that drafts him will have to have a specific plan on how to use him to maximize his productivity, and it could take time. With the loss of their fourth and fifth round picks and several holes to fill, the Lions have no room for error in this year’s draft.
After viewing three games (Louisville, Miami, Florida), I gave Edwards a 6.4 J,U grade (late third round). Here’s an excerpt from his scouting report:
Mario Edwards Jr., DE – Florida State
Height: 6030 Weight: 279 40 Time: 4.84
NFL Comparison: Ray McDonald, Free Agent
Good height and weight for the position. Above average lateral agility and body control for a big man. Showcases impressive upper body power to consistently gain ground when bull-rushing. Can close quickly when he gets a bead on the ball and is motivated. Effective run defender. Can anchor and extends arms well to lock-out OL, set the edge and force the run inside. Versatile – plays hand in dirt and standing up – moves inside and out. Solid tackler.
Average burst off the ball. Lacks the explosiveness, bend and burst to routinely threaten off the edge when rushing the passer. Slow to key and diagnose. Motor runs hot and cold. Average speed – limited range in pursuit. One trick pony – straight line power rusher. Limited pass rush creativity and counter moves. Not a difference maker.
Edwards needs to decide what he wants to be and how bad he wants to be IT. Right now he has DT/DE “tweener” traits – not quick enough to be an effective pass rusher off the edge and not big enough to consistently hold up inside – and teams will need to have a plan if they want to maximize his potential. Entering the league, he’s a one-trick power pass rusher who is solid against the run, but lacks special athletic qualities and doesn’t have the consistent motor to compensate. That limits his value to being a back-up base end in 43 or five technique in 3-4.
The team that takes a chance on him will need to decide: gain weight, kick inside and become a one-gapper, or lose weight, improve his pass rush technique and play off the edge? Either would require a year (minimum) or two of developmental time before he MAY be able to contribute as a starter, and that’s assuming he’s willing to put in the effort. Backup with starter potential/late third round grade, but will likely be drafted higher by a team willing to take a gamble on his aptitude.
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