Mario Edwards Jr. has not had a clean bill of health in his first two years with the Oakland Raiders. What could a healthy season for him look like in 2017?
Defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. came out of Florida State with a great deal of hype in 2015. He was a big part of that defense that saw the Florida State Seminoles win the 2013 BCS National Championship and reach the inaugural College Football Playoff in 2014.
Edwards would leave Tallahassee a year early to enter the NFL Draft. That looked to be the right move, as he was taken by the Oakland Raiders atop the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft at No. 35. However, it has been a struggle to stay healthy for the promising defensive lineman out of Florida State.
To date, Edwards has only played in 16 regular season games and last year’s AFC playoff game against the Houston Texans. While he was on the field for 14 contests as a rookie, Edwards only came off the injured reserve list late in the year, playing in the final two games of 2016.
Clearly, Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie expected Edwards to be a major factor on the Raiders defensive line for years to come. If Edwards has his health, what kind of season could we be getting from the third-year pro out of Florida State?
As a rookie in 2015, Edwards had 33 tackles, nine assists, 2.0 quarterback sacks, two passes defended and a forced fumble. So we know that he is at least capable of that, probably much more than that.
When he was dominating the ACC with Florida State, was around 40 total tackles, 10.0 tackles for a loss of yardage and 3.0 quarterback sacks as a starter. That might be a better indication of what he can do when he’s healthy playing against his peers.
Pro Football Focus had Edwards with a 70.1 overall grade in 2016 as a defensive interior lineman. Since he only played 76 snaps last year, this is a very small sample size. While he was solid in run defense at 74.3, he struggled in the pass rush at just 49.7. Edwards did hold his own in coverage at a 71.1.
Overall, Edwards seems to play defensive line in a way that doesn’t garner stats in the traditional sense. If he’s taking on blocks in the running game to allow somebody else to make a tackle, that would be terrific. Though he has shown an ability to get after the quarterback, look for Edwards to make great strides in run stuffing this fall.
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That’s what he seems to do best. It helps that he seems to have a promising rookie interior pass rusher in the baby bull Eddie Vanderdoes.
Good rookie seasons from Vanderdoes and Treyvon Hester should only help Edwards reach his potential in 2017 playing alongside them.
So what kind of stats are we talking about with regards to Edwards? Frankly if he’s playing like he did with the 2013-14 Seminoles, you’d have to take that.
If Edwards is really humming in run defense, 50 total tackles and 7.5 for a loss of yardage would be great. As a pass rusher, 4.0 quarterback sacks would be an added bonus to the great year Edwards would be having.
If he’s healthy, we’d have to expect that Edwards will grade out better by the guys at PFF. Don’t expect anything close to a Pro Bowl season from Edwards, but he could be a better than average interior defensive lineman in 2017. He has a chance to be the third-best front-seven player for Oakland after Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin.