A Look At Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds As 2018 Draft Target For The Detroit Lions.
Tremaine Edmunds Possesses Elite Athleticism
When the 2018 NFL combine began to roll around two weeks ago, one of the players I was looking the most forward to seeing tested was linebacker Tremaine Edmunds from Virginia Tech. He flashed some absurd plays in college due to his athleticism and is one of the first things that you notice when you put his film on.
At 6’5, 250 lbs, Edmunds has drawn comparisons to the likes of Anthony Barr when he was coming out of college. I think Barr was a better coverage linebacker coming out, but Edmunds has a better feel against the run. While he is sometimes slow to react, he has incredibly acceleration and burst that allows him to make up for the lost ground.He ran a very impressive 4.53 40 yard dash. The combine confirmed the long reach Edmunds appeared to have on tape. His arms measured 34 1/2″ to add to his already long frame.
This play showcases Edmunds ability to flash against the run and became a common type of play to see from him throughout the 2017 season.. While he is a tad slow to react again on this play, when he reads that the run, he shows nice patience to let Duke’s right guard pass by him before attacking downhill. He takes a great angle on the play and utilizes his great burst to get the ball-carrier down in the backfield. For a linebacker in the NFL, the ability to finish a tackle is paramount and is something that Edmunds did consistently last year. His elite athleticism, tackling ability, and pursuit angles made him a very stout linebacker against the run.
Edmunds Fit In Detroit’s New Defense
New Lions head coach Matt Patricia has been known for his ability to build in develop linebackers in New England, so it should surprise no one if Detroit were to take a linebacker with Edmunds’s abilities in the 1st round of the 2018 NFL draft. He is still developing his ability in pass coverage, but definitely has the tools to be able to neutralize “matchup nightmares” on the interior of the defense with his speed and length someday. He would likely be the strong side linebacker or the “over” backer in the Lions new scheme, with his ability to run stuff, blitz, and cover.
But do not be suprised to see him playing all over the field though. His athletic traits make Edmunds very versatile and would ideally thrive in zone blitz or multiple front schemes that could advantage of this versatility. There is some risk with Edmunds as his fighting through traffic is average at this point. His aggressive, downhill style of play has left him susceptible to counters, play-action, and misdirection at times. Sometimes he relies on his athletic traits too much. He should develop better man coverage technique as he does not sink his hips well in transition consistently. His speed and length helped mask this a bit in college, as he makes up ground really quickly. But could get exposed at the professional level if not addressed.
All in all I would love the pick for Detroit. Sure, they have other needs at the moment. But the draft has some depth at defensive tackle and running back, other big positions of need, that could be addressed later if not already addressed in free agency. Patricia’s defense would get a top-tier athlete at the linebacker position and has the skill set to be molded into a top 3 player at his position one day.