Mario in the middle
When the Raiders drafted Mario Edwards Jr., the expectation was that he would be a dominant edge rusher for years to come. Well, three years into his NFL career, and the 2015 second rounder is now moving the middle of the defensive line, where he is listed as a first-team player.
Edwards will have stiff competition all season long if he wishes to stay with the first team, as rookies Maurice Hurst Jr. and PJ Hall have really turned heads this summer. The expectation is that Hurst will be the starter alongside Justin Ellis in Paul Guenther’s 4-3 defense, but Edwards has a chance to show he belongs as a starter against the Lions.
There has never been any doubt that Edwards is a talented player, but he has never been able to stay healthy. He will be with the first-team to start the game, but you can be sure that Raiders fans are going to see a lot of guys like Hall and Hurst during their first taste of NFL football.
With Khalil Mack sitting out, the defensive line will also have Tank Carradine starting, so the defensive line in Week 1 against the Rams may look a lot different than the one that takes the first snaps against the Lions. Hopefully, Edwards can be a solid contributor for the Raiders in 2018, because another lost season could spell the end of his time in the Silver and Black.