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With Redskins SS Position In A State Of Uncertainty Mike Edwards Could Bring Consistency

Hogs Haven takes a look at 2019 NFL Draft prospects that could contribute to the Redskins

Middle Tennessee v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Mike Edwards, S
School: Kentucky | Conference: SEC
College Experience: RS Senior | Age: 23?
Height / Weight: 6-0 / 200 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 2nd Round
NFL Comparison: Malcolm Jenkins

College Statistics

Player Overview

In a safety class that doesn’t feature a plethora of top end talent it’s a bit of a mystery to me why Mike Edwards seemingly still hasn’t reached the consciousness of the football masses when talking about top safety prospects. Edwards has had an impact on the football field almost since the time he arrived at Kentucky. As a 4-star safety recruit from Ohio, Edwards was placed on a redshirt his freshman season (2014) but has started for the Wildcats since 2016. Edwards is a well rounded safety that primarily plays from the SS position but who has also played the nickel position on defense. Kentucky has had the luxury to move Edwards where they need him within their defensive scheme and he in turn has made plays all over the field. You might catch him dropping deep into the middle of the field in coverage, you might see him coming on a DB blitz, you might see him coming up to play the run, and you might see him covering a slot WR. Edwards is physical and active on the field and joined the “300-tackles” club at Kentucky this season, he is only the second defensive back in school history to do so. Beyond his tackle numbers Edwards is also very proficient in coverage. For the uninitiated, the first time you watch him you might think he is playing from the FS position. The fact is, Edwards can close in a hurry in coverage and he has the skills to impact a game with his cover skills. He’s going to be a starter in the league and the only question is if his draft stock will continue to rise after his appearances at the Senior Bowl and Combine and with little competition at the position in the draft.

Strengths

  • Versatile player likely able to play SS and cover the slot at as a nickel back in the NFL. How he’ll be used will be at the whim and creativity of his DC but he could be making plays all over the field a la Malcolm Jenkins.
  • Able to drop back in coverage and shows good awareness and ability to close and defend the ball in the air. A better zone defender in my opinion than man to man. Read and react ability is good and with his vision and timing he can convert breakups into interceptions.
  • Has the ability to come up and play the run at the LOS as well as come up and blitz the QB. He’s not afraid of physicality and has demonstrated that with his 312 tackles and 21 TFLs in his college career.
  • Tough, physical, consistent player who has racked up 38 consecutive starts and has had consistent production throughout his starting career.

Weaknesses

  • He is a bit undersized for the SS position and it wouldn’t surprise me if he came in at 5’10 or 5’11 during his official measurements.
  • Doesn’t appear to have the speed to make critical recoveries in coverage lapses or to stick with speedy receivers. I think his nickel DB work should be strategic e.g. I would not have him cover Nelson Agholor on a go route and expect him to keep up. As a deep cover safety he should be able to come over and make most plays but that ability will be tested in the NFL with QBs who can throw with more velocity.
  • Prolific as a tackler but misses the easy ones sometimes. Too much reliance on ankle grabbing and not enough emphasis on wrapping up. He’ll need to improve this in the NFL.
  • There is no lack of effort with Edwards but I noticed sometimes he can over commit on an angle and overshoot his opponent. As mentioned above he doesn't have the agility or speed to recover (not many do TBH in that situation) when he does that and it could lead to some big plays for the offense. He’s willing to take chances but he’ll need to be more strategic and disciplined in the NFL.

Let’s see his work:

More Mike Edwards videos

How He Would Fit On The Redskins

Safety became a need for the Redskins pretty quickly this season. When the year started I just assumed Monte Nicholson would be the future at the SS position but with the mid-season acquisition of HaHa Clinton-Dix looking like a less than stellar move and Monte potentially getting himself into legal trouble the S position and SS in particular could look a lot different at the start of next season. I really like Edwards for the things he does right. I think I’ll always be the guy who bangs the drum for players who are actually proficient at what their position requires fundamentally e.g. tackling, coverage, turnover ability, and creating pressure at times. I’m less enthralled with 40 times or how tall a guy is but there is no doubt these are big questions for Edwards going into this process. We all know the Redskins are in need of better and more consistent tackling at the position as well as better coverage overall. If the Redskins are able to get an above average DC who is not afraid to scheme up a few things for this guy and use his versatility wisely I think he could be a real asset in the secondary and maybe despite non elite athletic numbers might win over fans with his play.