Player: Tremaine Edmunds
School: Virginia Tech
Size: 6’5″, 253 pounds
It’s no secret to Chicago Bears fans who Ryan Pace tends to like in the first round of his drafts. Large, fast, high-upside great athletes who have bust potential but can be superstars. When thinking about who they’re likely going to take, fans and analysts should look to that type of profile and see which players fit it.
Enter Tremaine Edmunds.
Already a possible top 10 pick in the 2018 draft, Edmunds’ combine solidified his status. And after watching some game tape, it’s clear to me that he has the potential to be a game-breaking linebacker who will strike terror into the hearts of opposing ballcarriers.
- He checks every box in terms of measurables. Edmunds has the ideal size for a linebacker at 6’5″, 253 pounds. What’s incredible about him is that he has the speed and agility to go with it, as his 4.55 40-yard dash would indicate. You want someone who has the size and speed to guard top tight ends one-on-one? With so many monsters at that position, defenses need a guy who can neutralize them. Here’s that guy. Age is also a measurable and Edmunds will only be 20-years-old on draft night. In terms of quantifiable aspects, Edmunds is the absolute prototype for what you want a linebacker to be.
- He will not miss tackles. At all. Edmunds is a human embodiment of an instructional video on tackling technique. Aims for the hips/thighs area? Check. Leads with his shoulder and not the crown of his helmet? Check. Wraps up? Check. Keeps his feet driving through contact? Check. I’m not sure I’ve ever scouted a more sure-handed, physical, violent at times but technically sound tackler. Edmunds’ game is raw in some ways but this is not one of them.
- His lateral speed and pursuit are unmatched. Edmunds can be slow to read plays (more on that in the “negatives” section) but once he narrows in on his target he’s like a heat-seeking missile. He takes good angles and attacks the ball-carrier with speed and force. His 4.55 40 is an accurate representation of his game speed. He can shut down an opponent’s sweep/outside run game by himself. He’s also a guy who will be adept at chasing down running quarterbacks and prevent those cheap, extra yards from piling up.
- He’s versatile. If the Bears drafted him, Edmunds would primarily be an inside linebacker next to Danny Trevathan in their 2-4-5 scheme. But a creative defensive coordinator like Vic Fangio can use him like a Swiss Army knife and truly maximize his potential. On passing downs and more often than not at the goal line, Edmunds lined up as an edge rusher. He was moved all over the field – up the middle, in the slot, off the ball, on the line of scrimmage, and can contribute in a variety of ways.
- He’s a natural play-maker. Whenever you put on some Virginia Tech defensive film, it’s always #49 who makes the big plays for his team. What you want in a linebacker is someone opponents will have to fear and game plan for, and Edmunds can definitely provide that. Some guys have that play-making trait, some don’t. It can’t be taught and is an extremely valuable asset for a defense.
- He needs to work on taking on blockers. Edmunds can be timid and tentative, even a little wimpy on some plays, at the point of attack when taking on an offensive lineman head up on a blitz or run support, which shouldn’t be a problem for a hulk like Edmunds. It can really derail him in the inside run game but also in the pass rush where he doesn’t really have any fully developed rush moves. Sometimes in rushing the passer, he can be bullied by a mere running back, which can’t happen if you’re of Edmunds’ size.
- His instincts are sub-par. Where Edmunds really struggles, as referenced earlier, is in reading and diagnosing plays. He can sometimes bite on play action and where it gets worse is in a read option type situation. He’ll choose who he thinks is getting the ball and often ends up being wrong, goes way too far up-field, and takes himself out of the play. When he sits in zone coverage, he frequently looks a little confused, even lost, and it can lead to and has led to big plays for the opponent.
- It’s evident on film that he’s raw. At 20 years old, Edmunds is young enough that a good coach can mold him into a polished, superstar player. But for now, even though his tackling technique is excellent, he relies on his natural gifts a lot for my liking, especially in pass coverage. He has a lot to work on there.
Yes, he’s raw. Yes, the instincts could be better. But a player with Edmunds’ size and athleticism is so rare that he has to be in consideration, and in my repeatedly stated opinion, the favorite, for the Bears at the eighth overall pick in the draft. If he puts it all together, Edmunds will be one of the best linebackers in football.
Once again, it can’t be forgotten that Ryan Pace has a clear profile for what he likes with the eighth overall pick and Vic Fangio tends to value inside linebackers more than most defensive coordinators who start four of them. Edmunds fits both descriptions to a tee. He can make an immediate impact on the defense and become an All-Pro down the road on a young, promising Chicago Bears team.