Mario Edwards Jr. looking for redemption as second round pick


May 8, 2015; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. (97) at rookie minicamp at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

When defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. went to the Florida State Seminoles, he was the highest rated high school prospect in the nation who appeared to be on the path to college stardom in Tallahassee before becoming a top pick in the NFL Draft. A bar he didn’t quite reach despite winning a National Championship at FSU, becoming more of a talented role player than a superstar during his four seasons.

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Because of those failed expectations and failing to live up to the expectation of being a top rated recruit, Edwards Jr. slipped into the second round to the Oakland Raiders who analysts felt reached to take him early in Round 2. Weight issues and just eight collegiate sacks deeming Edwards Jr. as a late second round to mid-round prospect despite his winning pedigree on the Seminoles defense.

After a college career that saw team success but some level of individual failure after playing at over 3oo pounds during parts of his time at Florida State, Edwards Jr. is looking at his NFL career at a chance to prove that he has the talent that made him one of the most prized prospects in the country going into college.

“I look at it as a chance to redeem myself,” Edwards told CSN Bay Area’s Scott Bair at the team’s training camp in Napa. “I was highly recruited out of high school and didn’t do what I wanted to do in college. I look at this as a second chance to prove myself and a fresh start.”

“Deep down, I know how I should have played in college and where I could’ve went in the NFL Draft if I could have gotten some of my personal things under control. I feel like I have those things under control, so now it’s only about going out there and playing.”

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Dealing with his weight issues, Edwards told the media that after a more intense physical training program that he feels much more athletic than during his time in college despite putting a focus on dropping weight rather than bulking like other defensive ends try to do to make the NFL jump.

“I feel like I’m a lot quicker, and I feel like I’m stronger now than ever despite the fact that I’ve gotten lighter,” Edwards told Bair. “I have a chance to contribute and show that I can get after the quarterback.”

The Raiders took a leap of faith on Edwards’ potential by reaching for him early in the second round. That unfulfilled upside likely intrigued scouts who saw a pass rusher who can get even better than the still strong level he played at despite not living up to the expectations of a top recruit. A National Championship winner who views his time in college as a motivating factor is rare, but Edwards’ goal of proving to the football world he is still one of the best prospects at his position going into the NFL can only be a positive as the Raiders hope to develop the pass rusher to his full potential.