Bears Draft Preview: Linebacker Edmunds An Intriguing First Round Risk

DAVE KNACHEL | Virginia Tech
Tremaine Edmunds on the attack. In spite of completing his junior year at Virginia Tech, Edmunds is only 19 and looks to be one of the great physical finds in this year’s draft.

Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and the NFL for WARR; Each week leading up to the NFL Draft (April 26-28), Ryan and Ken Davis from “The D & Davis Show” will offer a scouting report on possible targets for the Bears at No. 8 in the first round; read the first report here and their second here.

Tremaine Edmunds is easily one of the most interesting prospects in the 2018 NFL draft.

Edmunds stands 6’5” and weighs in at 253 pounds, he is considered to be one of the top linebackers but he is also a tweener. Many scouts think Edmunds is the second best edge rusher after Bradley Chubb. Edmunds is versatile, he mainly played inside but Virginia tech moved him around to take advantage of his ability to play all the linebacking positions.

Edmunds physical gifts are noticeable, he has a terrific combination of size and speed which has scouts torn on what his NFL comparison is. As one NFC regional scout put it “Good luck with your player comp. I don’t think there has ever been a linebacker that has had his size and speed. You’re better off comping him with a basketball player” (from NFL.com). Edmunds is also very young at just 19 years old.

Being just 19, it is easy to see why Edmunds needs more seasoning as a linebacker to learn the finer points of the position. The upside of Edmunds is undeniable. A player with his size and speed has a real chance to become a monster in the NFL, here is the scouting report for the potential monster that is Tremaine Edmunds.

Combine results:

  • 40 yard dash – 4.54 (seventh out of all linebackers and edge rushers)
  • Bench press – 19 (Tied eleventh out of all linebackers and edge rushers)
  • Vert Jump – Did not participate
  • Broad Jump – 9’9” (Tied eleventh out of all linebackers and edge rushers)
  • 3 cone drill – Did not participate
  • 20 yard shuttle – Did not participate
  • 60 yard shuttle – Did not participate

Strengths:

  • A freak athletically
  • His speed is obvious when scrapping, moving laterally and running downhill
  • Easily can play inside and shows the physical tools to be a great pass rusher
  • Skilled as a linebacker in getting off blocks and when dropping back in coverage
  • Shows a lot of disruption in the pass and run game

Weaknesses:

  • In game processing needs to develop
  • Doesn’t have great instincts and can rely too much on athletic ability
  • Didn’t have a good bench press and needs to add more strength overall
  • Being more patient and consistently reading keys are the type of finer points of the linebacker position that Edmunds has to improve upon for the next level

Bottom Line:

Tremaine Edmunds might be the definition of a boom or bust player. Edmunds has basically all the tools you’d want physically as a linebacker. Yes, he needs to add more upper and lower body strength but this is a fast athlete at 6’5,” 253 pounds. Edmunds will most likely add more weight and he has room in his frame to do so.

The quick twitch speed is there as well, which is why many scouts believe Edmunds has the ability to be a great pass rusher because of his long arms and burst off the snap.

Where Edmunds’s game needs improvement is on the mental side, and some of that can be coached but a player can’t be taught instinct. Edmunds should get better with experience and there is no reason to think he can’t improve, but if Edmunds is a bust it will be because of the intangibles that he lacks.

Fit with the Bears:

There are multiple ways that Tremaine Edmunds can help if he is the selection by the Bears. Currently, the Bears still need to answer two questions on the defense. Who will be the opposite edge rusher to Leonard Floyd and who will play next to Danny Trevathan?

Edmunds could play some at both positions but there are at least options on the team to fill the role of standing next to Trevathan and being an effective player. There are no options on the current roster that can be considered an effective edge rusher opposite Floyd. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio would no doubt move Edmunds all over and take advantage of his athleticism in pass coverage like with Floyd.

Imagine the possibilities of combining Floyd and Edmunds’ athletic abilities on a football field with Fangio’s renowned ability to scheme, not to mention all the pre-snap disguises he could make. Quarterbacks would have to account for both Floyd and Edmunds either dropping back into coverage or trying to get in the backfield as a rusher.

One last thing to consider regarding Edmunds’ fit for the Bears — he is exactly the type of boom or bust player Ryan Pace has drafted in the first round every year (Kevin White, Leonard Floyd and Mitchell Trubisky). Pace loves gifted athletes, even if they are raw, and banks on the coaches to develop them from a prospect into a player. Edmunds is somewhat of a gamble but if the gamble works out then the pay off should be huge.

Ken’s Second Opinion

Edmunds has been one of three players I originally had as an option for the Bears at the No. 8 slot. The Bears defense continue to improve in 2017 and finished respectfully around the top ten in the league, yet they still need to acquire another edge rusher to go along with Leonard Floyd as Ryan mentioned earlier.

With the release of Willie Young and parting of ways with Parnell McPhee the Bears lack depth at edge rusher, couple that with the fact that neither Young or McPhee were top tier edge rushers. Both guys were more power than speed guys which isn’t bad especially if they were second unit guys, but you want a pure edge rusher to start opposite Floyd to really get the most out of Vic Fangio’s coaching.

Edmunds’ career at Virginia Tech is eerily like Leonard Floyd’s at Georgia. Floyd had question marks about his physicality at the point of attack since he was moved around in college. Scouts were unsure how he’d develop primarily playing outside against offensive tackles, like Edmunds, Floyd was used to defend players in the pass a lot in college.

Now it would be lazy for me to say that the comparisons between the two automatically means Edmunds would have the same amount of success as Floyd, but I must take Fangio into consideration also, his coaching prowess lends confidence that a tweener in the Floyd mold can achieve much more than a modicum of success in the NFL.

I’ve heard Brian Urlacher comparisons with Edmunds, which is foolish. Urlacher played safety in college, giving him a preternatural ability to play as a backpedaling center fielder at the middle linebacker spot in Lovie Smith’s system, such a quality made him stand out early in his career and set the pace for a Hall of Fame run. I don’t see that so much in Edmunds if he is used primary alongside Trevathan as a interior linebacker. The versatility is a plus, but I’d be displeased if he wasn’t used to pressure quarterbacks most of the time.

Edmunds at the eighth spot is a little higher than he’s been projected in most mock drafts, but I wouldn’t label it as a stretch if Ryan Pace decides to add him to the roster later this month. You can never have enough talent in the trenches in the NFL.

Follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanbski and Ken @ThatsDavis; Follow We Are Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under We Are Regal Radio

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3 responses to “Bears Draft Preview: Linebacker Edmunds An Intriguing First Round Risk

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