Raiders Believe Mario Edwards Jr. Will Thrive As An Edge Rusher

It’s been 72 hours since the draft, and the experts have spoken. The consensus seems to be that Oakland hit a home run with Amari Cooper, but may have reached for second-round pick, Mario Edwards Jr.


The knock on Edwards generally involves a perceived lack of “explosive” game film. Also, he’s been known to quit on plays. Jack Del Rio doesn’t seem to disagree, and acknowledged that Edwards suffered a case of “senioritis” at Florida State. Despite just 8 sacks in three years, the Raiders’ head coach still feels the defense is adding a “supremely talented guy” in Edwards.

Why all the optimism? Well, it’s probably as simple as Del Rio put it – the Raiders feel they have a supremely talented player in Edwards and the perfect compliment to Khalil Mack if Edwards can maintain a weight closer to his pro day – 272 pounds. For what it’s worth, Edwards admitted to weighing 310 pounds at one point in the season.


He received mixed reviews for his time at Florida State, but in terms of his talent, no one questioned Edwards’ skill set coming out of high school. In 2012, he was the top-rated high school prospect according to ESPN, and top five by others including Rivals (3rd overall), 247Sports (2nd overall), and USA Today (5th overall). At that time, Edwards was 275 pounds, and already built like a prototypical defensive end. This was ESPN recruiting coordinator, Craig Haubert, on the [then] high school senior:

He has prototypical size for an NFL defensive end. More important, there’s some savvy in there. He has moves. He has a pass-rush arsenal. You can sense that there’s a plan of attack when he rushes the quarterback. He’s more than just a good athlete. He’s a good football player.

Edwards wanted to be an edge rusher, but the writing was on the wall. Florida State was wasn’t concerned with his weight, and told him as much:

They all said there’s a chance I could move inside. Florida State said they didn’t care if I was 300 pounds, as long as I could keep my speed.

As we know now, the plan worked out fine for Florida State (they won a lot of games), but Edwards seemed to become invisible at times. He became a player that apparently needed to be motivated – not exactly the “all-out, full speed all the time” player his father described coming out of high school.

Maybe it was his position. Maybe it was his weight. Maybe it was both. Whatever the case, the Raiders believe they’ve solved the puzzle. They drafted Edwards to be a pass rusher and it’s likely others had a similar idea in mind.


Lastly, we all know Edwards is a great athlete. By now, you’ve seen him do a backflip at 287 pounds, but here’s a clip that might actually translate to the football field.

Think that’s normal? Just look at the reactions from his teammates.