The Oakland Raiders selected DE Mario Edwards, Jr., out of Florida State, with their 2nd round pick (35th overall) in the 2015 NFL Draft. Edwards, Jr. finished his senior season with 11 tackles for loss and earned an All-ACC First Team selection, as well as two Defensive Lineman of the Week honors.
As we approach Rookie Mini-Camp, get to know Edwards, Jr., a little better.
UNDERSTANDS HIGH EXPECTATIONS
The 6'3", 280-pound defensive lineman was the No. 1 recruit coming out of high school.
"I feel like if I would have controlled my weight my three years that I could have lived up to what my rankings were. However I can't put myself behind the eight ball. I took full responsibility for that. I understand how it works."
LEARNED FROM HIS COLLEGE MISTAKES
"Coming out, No. 1 in the nation and all that stuff, you have people saying you're this and that, and all you've got to do is this and this and that. You kind of relax and take the foot off the pedal a little bit. But now, knowing that was the wrong thing to do, because once you get comfortable, as my dad said, you either get worse or you get better. There's no in between. Me taking my foot off the gas pedal definitely caused me to gain weight and become worse. I just say that me getting a little too comfortable and complacent with where I was ranked kind of had its toll on me coming in overweight."
The Raiders selected 10 players in the 2015 NFL Draft.
DOESN'T BELIEVE HIS WEIGHT WILL BE AN ISSUE**
Throughout his career at Florida State, Edwards, Jr.'s weight fluctuated between 270 and 310, which was a cause for concern, but the Raiders rookie is confident it will no longer be a problem.
"Talking to [Raiders staff], they like me at the 280-285 weight range, so that's pretty easy to stay at," said Edwards, Jr. in his conference call. "If they really understood that coming into FSU there was never a set weight for me to be at…the whole motto or the whole goal was as long as you can run and do what we ask you to do I don't care what your weight is. And I've even asked [Florida State Head] Coach Jimbo [Fisher] to what was just too high of a weight and he replied, if you're 310, 312 then they have to deal with you being at 310, 312. Don't worry about the weight just play. It was never a structured weight for me to be at."
And General Manager Reggie McKenzie trusts that weight won't be an issue either.
"Well once we get him in here and get him with our strength and conditioning coach and our coaches to determine what his weight will be, we expect him to be a pro and be at that weight," said McKenzie. "Guys when they come in, in college, they are young and they figure they can play at any weight. When you're a gifted athlete like that you have a tendency to, if you can get by with it, so be it. We'll have a weight for him so we don't expect it to be an issue."
HAS THE BACKING OF GM REGGIE MCKENZIE
General Manager Reggie McKenzie shared his confidence in Edwards, Jr. during his Draft Day 2 press conference.
"Number one, Mario's a good football player," said McKenzie. "He's big, strong, physical, [has] a good feel for the game. His deal is he can definitely play the run and he can pressure the quarterback. He's not a speed rusher, but he is a good pass rusher."
KNOWS LINEBACKERS COACH SAL SUNSERI**
Edwards, Jr. played two seasons with Coach Sunseri when the current Raiders LB coach was the defensive line coach at FSU.
"My two years when he was there were great," said Edwards, Jr. "I learned so much from him and we developed a great relationship and now to go back and play under him again is definitely an honor."
McKenzie relied heavily on Coach Sunseri in the evaluation of Edwards, Jr. as a complete person.
"It's a lot on the person. We spent a lot of time with [Edwards, Jr.], but coach [Sunseri] was with him for two years while he's going through college life," said McKenzie. "He sees him in the meeting rooms. He sees him around his teammates, travelling, so he knows the kid throughout…so we relied on what he could give us from his character standpoint."
UNDERSTANDS AND IS READY FOR THE CHALLENGE OF THE NFL
Edwards, Jr. has played in a lot of big games during his collegiate career, including the National Championship. He understands, however, that the NFL is an entirely different level of competition.
"Every game, every week is going to be like a National Championship game, because now it's the cream of the crop. Everybody is good. Everybody is great. Everybody is big, strong and fast, so now you have to go separate yourself from them."