Thursday, May 17, 2018

Mario Edwards Jr must step it up in 2018



Mario Edwards Jr has not lived up to the hype since being drafted in the 2nd round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Reggie McKenzie loved his "upside" when he selected Edwards and thought he would become an elite Defensive End but that never materialized as Edwards was constantly battling injuries and missing games. Edwards has played in just 24 of a possible 48 regular-season games.
Last season Edwards did come off his best performance as a pro as far as sacks go, he racked up 3.5 sacks in 2017. He also only played in 14 games. Edwards has not played all 16 games in a single season since he came into the NFL in 2015. In total Edwards in 3 years has 5.5 sacks and 53 tackles.

Things are changing now that Jon Gruden has returned as the Raiders head coach. Gruden is not tied to previous draft picks that were selected by GM Reggie McKenzie. In fact Gruden has made that clear by trading away former 2nd rounder Jihad Ward and letting guys like TJ Carrie, Denico Autry, Clive Walford and Darius Latham walk. Gruden even went as far as calling out Edwards publicly through the media, basically saying he needs to step it up or else.

Gruden's not lying, there's a reason why Raiders drafted Maurice Hurst and Arden Key and brought in Tank Carradine plus Gruden may not be done adding to the line in free agency with other Vets. Also looks like Bruce Irvin will be more of a DE in 2018. Gruden has moved Mario Edwards Jr to DT for good now.  Gruden just does not believe in Edwards as a DE, so the hope is Edwards can find a role in the middle somewhere in the Defensive line. No job will be given to Edwards, he's going to have to compete for a role or he will be another casualty of the new regime, plus Raiders would save a million dollars by releasing Edwards which has been discussed already. So as training camp gets closer keep eyes out on #97 if he even makes it to Raiders camp.

It's clear Edwards does have the potential, he has shown it in the past but Jon Gruden is not going to put all his hopes into Edwards. Reggie McKenzie does not have the power he once had in protected his picks, so for everyone's sake let's hope Mario Edwards J can rise up in 2018 and become that dominate force he once was in college.

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