While linebacker prospect Tremaine Edmunds is getting all of the hype, his brother is not too shabby either. Edmunds came out of high school as a highly regarded cornerback prospect. However, he moved to the rover position and eventually became a safety before his time was up at Virginia Tech. Where does he fit in the NFL, and does he have a place on the Pittsburgh Steelers?
School: Virginia Tech
Like his brother, Edmunds is a rangy athlete with a ridiculous combination of size and speed. Edmunds is twitchy quick and jumps out of his stances to make plays on the ball and the ball carrier. Take the play below for example. He is motioning in the slot to the right. He gives cushion inside, sees the pass and pounces, making up quick ground to break up the pass.
Edmunds again shows his quick burst. He does a great job of reading the quarterback, abandons his responsibility and makes the tackle short of the sticks.
Edmunds is always willing to stick his head into physical play. He is able to use his strength to be a viable threat in the running game, and as shown in the play below can blow up screens as well. Watch him push the blocker into his teammate to make the play. Size, speed, strength, quick burst, it is there.
He caps off a complete athletic profile with great ball skills. He twists his body and hangs in the air as he pulls down the pass at full extension.
Edmunds skipped a grade in high school and will enter the league at age 20. There is no questioning his athletic upside.
It could almost be expected with his age projection, but Edmunds is going to take time to put together the nuanced movements of the NFL. He can be late to break on plays, takes poor angles and will take himself out of plays. If a team is looking at him as a free safety prospect, these are serious concerns.
Notice the way he turns his body in the play below. He is out of position and slow and gives the receiver all of the cushion in the world as he breaks out on this route. It is clear that Edmunds never anticipated the route breaking that way. This is likely what moved him away from cornerback.
In the play below, it is a double move that allows big a cushion down the field. In the middle of the screen, Edmunds bites hard on the inside breaking route. When the receiver cuts it upfield, Edmunds is out of position.
Again, Edmunds is out of position to make a play on the ball down the field. He is slow to fully turn his body and react to the route. Then, even though he was able to recover quickly, he never felt the ball coming or reacted to it at all. He was lost on this play.
It also should be worth noting that Edmunds shut down his junior year early with shoulder surgery. He is a strong tackler, but a lot of them come from his shoulder rather than form and angles.
There are plenty of questions about where Edmunds will project. His elite speed and ball skills would be great in centerfield. However, there are questions about his angles, and ability to find the ball when moving laterally.
The best thing to do with him may be to confine him to the box. In man, he can match up on tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. In zone, he can roam back to the deep portion of the field. He can spy quarterbacks. On top of that, against the run, he is running downhill more often, and relying on that strength to break away from blocks and clog lanes. His gap discipline and play recognition will need work. However, he will need work in every single position he attempts in the NFL. This diverse skill set is needed in today’s NFL and by highlighting these strengths, such as how the Cardinals have highlighted Bucannon, they can find a quality NFL player.
A fit for Pittsburgh Steelers
Every prognosticator, Steelers fan, beat writer and even upper management understand the two biggest needs for this team. They need an inside linebacker and they need a free safety. Does a free safety who may translate to inside linebacker make sense?
On paper, certainly. In the big picture, he is another body to throw at Rob Gronkowski. He also has the position versatility and athleticism the team has been trying to shift towards as an overall philosophy.
The question with Edmunds would be round value. The Steelers are in a must-win window. They have been really good at getting their rookies of the first three rounds involved and on the field early in their rookie seasons. Edmunds is a very raw player and does not quite have a defined position. How quick can they get him involved?
While the upside is worth investing in, the team may want to hold off in the first two rounds on Edmunds. If his questions linger into round three, he may very be worth taking a shot on.