Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds

Brian Spurlock/USA Today Sports

Gabriel: Scouting Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds

Edmunds has great upside but is still raw in some key areas of his game.

Greg Gabriel
March 22, 2018 - 11:11 am

By Greg Gabriel--

(670 The Score) One player projected by some mock drafts to go to the Bears at No. 8 overall is Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. While Edmunds is a good prospect, the question is whether taking him at No. 8 is a reach.

As a size/speed athlete, few are better. Edmunds is 6-foot-5 and 253 pounds, and he ran the 40 in 4.54 at the NFL Combine, a mark that's great for a linebacker. Also helping Edmunds' case is that he doesn't turn 20 until May. He will only be 24 when his rookie contract expires, assuming the team that drafts him picks up his fifth-year option on the deal.

In the Virginia Tech defensive scheme, Edmunds played primarily as an inside linebacker and at times lined up on the outside. He was productive within this scheme, with 94 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 2016 and 108 tackles and 5.5 sacks in 2017. 

Edmunds is a consistent run defender who has strength at the point of attack and does a good job taking on and getting rid of blockers. With his athleticism and lateral agility, he does an excellent job moving through the chaos.

Where Edmunds really excels is in coverage. He has shown hat the can play man or zone, doing both equally well. In zone, Edmunds quickly gets depth with his drops and does a good job taking away the center of the field. With his athleticism, he can cover running backs and tight ends in man coverage.

Edmunds had some success as a pass rusher, but that usually came when he was used as a blitzer. When he lined up outside to pass rush, he proved to be raw. Edmunds didn't display good hand use and lackde a good feel for pass rushing. He's not a natural pass rusher at this point in his football career.

The concern with Edmunds centers on his instincts. He struggles to anticipate where plays are going, instead being reactive. In the college game, a player can get away with that and still be productive. That isn’t the case in the NFL, as that slight difference in time can make all the difference in whether a play is made. Instincts are the most important trait a linebacker needs to have to be a top player in the NFL.

When you account for Edmunds' age and athleticism, we see that he has a tremendous amount of upside. What he needs more than anything is to just play more and feel comfortable within the game. As he gains experience, his instincts will improve, as will his technique. But it will take some time.

Looking at Bears general manager Ryan Pace's draft history, Edmunds fits the bill as a highly athletic player with upside. Wherever he lands, what we will see of Edmunds as a rookie won't be close to the player we see by the time he gets to his third year. What Pace may have to balance in his decision-making process is the upside of Edmunds against the better early production that other draft prospects will likely provide. It's an interesting exercise to go through, as Pace knows he can get more rookie production out of other players.

The final factor in this equation is where would the the Bears potentially utilize Edmunds? He has played inside his whole college career, but he has the build of an outside linebacker. At this point of his career, no one can say that he will excel as an outside linebacker, because that's basically a projection. Edmunds is much more comfortable playing inside.

These are questions that the Bears brain trust will discuss and eventually answer over the next five weeks as they prepare for the NFL Draft.

Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who's an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.