Draft Breakdown: LB T.J. Edwards

By Thomas Ringgaard |
Draft Breakdown: LB T.J. Edwards

T.J. Edwards, LB, Wisconsin

Conference: Big Ten

Measurables: 6'1, 242 lbs

Career stats:
2015: 84 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 4 PBUs
2016: 89 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 3 INTs, 2 PBUs
2017: 81 tackles, 11.0 TFL, 2 sacks, 4 INTs, 7 PBUs
2018: 112 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 3 INTs, 2 PBUs

Pro day:
40 time: 4.77 sec
Vertical: 32.5 inches

Interview:

I spoke with the Wisconsin star following my breakdown of his college tape:

Question: What parts of your game do you believe will help you have success at the next level?

T.J. Edwards: "I've always been taught that to be a good LB one thing that you must have is physicality. This is something that I try to bring with me every play. I also think I've done a good job of reading the QB in coverage which allows me to be around the ball in passing situations."

Q: If you could pick one current NFL LB to learn from, who would it be?

TE: "I think a LB I would like to learn from is Luke Kuechly. He's been so dominant for such a long time."

Q: Do you prefer to play the run from a distance (e.g. 10 tech) and read OL movement or with speed from a blitz?

TE: "I've always played from depth, which has allowed me to see how things develop in front of me. But in college we were also allowed to shoot gaps and make a play if it was open. I think from both situations I've had enough experience to be productive at the next level."

Q: Do you consider yourself as a 3-down LB? 

TE: "I am a three-down LB because the past 4 years I've been productive playing the run and the pass."

Image result for tj edwards

Strengths

  • Block shed: Plays with a big, compact frame from which he generates a lot of power. However, doesn't rely only on pushing a blocker back, but displays good hand swipe, rip, and push-pull technique. His force at point-of-contact makes him reliable to beat blocking WRs and TEs on e.g. outside breaking routes. On plays developing between the tackles he can hit big OLs hard and stone them. Rarely gets washed away. 
  • Zone coverage: Surprisingly, taking size into consideration, he displays good hip turn and movement in zone. Has natural and calm pass drop interchanging between reading the QB and diagnosing crossers. Covers seams well. Has shown good communication with other defenders in coverage mid-play. Takes good angles on crossing routes from shifty receivers so he doesn't lose a step.
  • Pass rush: Displays decent-to-good speed blitzing from a 10 tech. Can push back OLs in pass protection. Uses hands well against pass protecting RBs, doesn't lose balance after contact. 
  • Tackling: Displays natural ability to break down coming from speed, shimmy a step, gather ground, and make a safe tackle against ball carriers in open field. Can bend his body nicely around blockers to make shoestring tackles. Can lay the wood on crossing WRs and TEs. Rarely misses tackles, but when he does, it's usually when he pursues a play on the outside with a bad angle. 
  • Play recognition: Consistently diagnoses pulls and reacts well. Reads pass quick and drops into pass coverage fast.
  • Probably the most consistent production of any 2019 LB draft prospect through 4 years as a starter. Hasn't missed a beat in his college career. Produced in coverage, pass rush, and against the run.

Weaknesses

  • Movement: Average explosiveness and acceleration.  However, plays faster than he is because he compensates with good reaction time and angles towards the ball-carrier. Doesn't look smooth in turning his body if having to compensate for false steps. 
  • Has relatively many plays where he pop steps 5 yards from LOS even though it's obviously run and gets caught by OLs shooting straight for him. Now keep in mind i don't know how Wisconsin plays run, as he very well could be "out of the fit."  And, basically just have to flow to where ever the play is going, but it just seems odd he doesn't shoot his gaps. That being said there are several plays where he shoots the gap nicely, so I would think it is somewhat planned. 
  • Man coverage could become a challenge in the NFL with his lack of elite movement. He was not asked to cover slot WRs in college much, and hopefully he won't have to do it in NFL. Plays man well on RBs out of the backfield from a 10-50 technique though.

Conclusion

  • Final Thoughts: Edwards is a very physical, thick framed, strong LB who plays very good between the tackle and slightly above average outside. Has elite block shed ability and is a top tackler. Has very good zone skills but heavy man-man responsibility could be concerning due to average explosiveness.
  • Grade: Late 3rd-4th round pick
  • Pro Comparison: Brandon Marshall

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