Oakland Raiders Notebook: Preseason thoughts at halfway mark

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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

Mario Edwards Jr

Mario Edwards was one of the more shocking draft picks in recent memory for the Raiders. With many of the names on the board at that time for the Raiders to take him they must have seen something in him to go that route. Against the Vikings Edwards showed some of the ability and athleticism he did not get to show off at Florida State, which made everyone question the pick.

In this game Edwards played extensively with the second team and saw many of his reps in a two point stance rushing as a leo. He split a sack with Ben Heeney who I am tempted to nickname “The Bearded Missile” or maybe even “The Beard” for short. Edwards also forced a fumble in this game. What is most intriguing with Edwards is his versatility. He has the size and strength to play the strong side defensive end position much in the way Justin Tuck does, but he also has enough speed to pair with a rip move that allows him to close the space on tackles and blow through them.

This was not the Edwards that evaluators saw at Florida State. He was asked to play the two gap mostly, and hold down offensive linemen to eat blocks for linebackers behind him. It is clear that Edwards is still adapting to the speed of the NFL and when he does he will push Tuck for snaps at strong side end. Tuck will likely be the starter there for the whole season, but do not be shocked if Edwards plays significantly more snaps. What I look forward to seeing most is how he can be disruptive as a nickel interior pass rusher next to Tuck.

Next: Raiders Notebook: The Coordinators