Blogging The Boys will begin taking a look at some of the NFL Draft prospects that will be in the 2018 NFL Draft class. Some weeks, we will look at potential targets that will be within the Cowboys’ expected draft range. Others, we will highlight some of the elite members of the class.
The two “hot” positions in many recent mock drafts in regards to the Dallas Cowboys are wide receiver and defensive tackle. It is no secret that the Cowboys are building around Dak Prescott, so a wide receiver is an intriguing choice for the Cowboys at 19 — especially if Calvin Ridley is still available. At defensive tackle, Daron Payne and Vita Vea are two prospects that many Cowboys fans are wanting in silver and blue. This defense could take the next step with one of those defensive tackles in the middle.
Another position of need is linebacker. While Sean Lee is one of the best at his position across the NFL, his battle with injuries has cost the Cowboys. The run defense, especially, is night and day when Lee is on the field versus when he is sidelined with an injury. In addition to lee, Anthony Hitchens is a free agent and there are various levels of confidence on whether he is back in the Big D or not in 2018. Oh, and there is also Jaylon Smith. Once considered a top-five prospect in his draft class, Smith is still recovering from the devastating injury that cost him millions of dollars and his rookie season. While some are optimistic, how do the coaching staff, medical staff, and front office feel about relying on number 54 as soon as this fall?
The number one linebacker prospect on the majority of draft boards is Georgia Bulldogs phenom Roquan Smith. You can read our profile of him here. Smith, while undersized for a prototypical linebacker, is a head-hunter with brilliant speed that should transition to the NFL game. He will likely be off the board well before the 19th pick comes up, barring something serious before now and draft day.
Another prospect that is trending up the draft boards also happens to play the linebacker position. While some have him going within the first 15 picks, there might potentially be a chance this prospect is still on the board at 19.
Tremaine Edmunds — linebacker, Virginia Tech Hokies
Every draft season there seems to be a prospect that is on the fence about declaring early, but his measurables and potential drive him up draft boards in the spring. Tremaine Edmunds appears to be that guy in this draft cycle.
Edmunds arrived to Virginia Tech in the 2015 recruiting class as a 6-foot-4 and 220 pound three-star outside linebacker. He now is listed at 6-foot-5 and gained 30 pounds and is currently one of the hottest prospects in this year’s draft cycle.
As a freshman, Edmunds arrived on campus for the Hokies as a raw linebacker with tons of potential; however, he only played in six games in his debut collegiate season. In that season, the Virginia native recorded 11 total tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. You could see he had a high ceiling based on his traits and raw athletic ability, but his mind and body had to adjust to the next level.
Edmunds finally began to transition and adjust to the collegiate game during his sophomore season. In 2016, the freakish linebacker played in all 13 games for the Hokies, recording 94 tackles (49 solo), a whopping 16.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. He also picked off a pass and recovered a fumble in his second year for good measure. He was named first-team All-ACC and third-team All-American by Phil Steele, and the linebacker was only beginning to scratch the surface of his potential.
The junior entered his third season at Virginia Tech with a target on his back — opponents and offensive coordinators knew who he was after a breakout sophomore campaign. With more teams game-planning around him and accounting for his playmaking ability, Edmunds improved in nearly every category across the board. He played in all 13 games for the Hokies, accounting for 108 total tackles (57 solo), 14 TFLs, 5.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles in 2017. The star backer was once again selected to the ACC’s first-team and was place on the Associated Press’ third-team All-American team. Quite the season for the future first-rounder.
What do the experts think of Edmunds?
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller — who noted on his podcast earlier this week that he wasn’t even sure if Edmunds would declare for this year’s draft — seems to be high on the Va. Tech defender as the Dolphins select him with the 11th pick.
The Pick: LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
If you’re not a Virginia Tech fan you probably aren’t familiar with Tremaine Edmunds. He’s a 6’5”, 240-pound linebacker with the skills to play inside or outside at the next level and the athleticism to blow up once the NFL Scouting Combine gets here.
As a player, Edmunds is somewhere between Telvin Smith and Anthony Barr. He is a taller, leaner linebacker, but his quickness is his best asset. He has the ability to get around blockers to find the ball either against the run or as a pass-rusher. The biggest question will be how new defensive coordinator Matt Burke plans to unleash him.
The Miami Dolphins drafted Raekwon McMillan last year, and they have Kiko Alonso on the roster, but there’s no one like Edmunds on their depth chart. There’s not even anyone like Edmunds in the AFC East.
SB Nation’s Dan Kadar also has Edmunds going off the board within the first 14 picks.
14. Green Bay Packers: Tremaine Edmunds, OLB, Virginia Tech
Edmunds may not be the pure pass rusher the Packers need, but he’s the type of versatile player that new Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will love. Edmunds can move around the field and come up and stop the run or get into the backfield.
Meanwhile, CBS Sports’ R.J. White happens to think Edmunds lands in the Big D:
The Cowboys are pretty happy with their quarterback situation, thank you very much.
The pick: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
This would be a great value for the Cowboys if available. Sean Lee has dealt with multiple injuries over the years, and Edmunds gives the team an answer long-term next to Jaylon Smith.
As you can tell, Edmunds is thought of highly in draft circles. While he may not be as NFL-ready as someone like Roquan Smith, the former Hokie has an extremely high ceiling for teams to work with. His 6-foot-5, 250 pound frame, in addition to his sideline-to-sideline speed, has to make any scout and defensive coordinator drool. His ability to play either inside or outside also makes him an attractive prospect. Oh, and he will only be 19 when he hears his named called in April.
I know many Cowboys fans would love to see a linebackers room of a healthy Sean Lee, a healthy Jaylon Smith, and Tremaine Edmunds. Who knows if he will still available at 19 after the combine, but crazier things have happened.
What do you think BTB?
Catch up with our previous installments below!