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Cowboys Draft Target: Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Draft Target: Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmonds 1

Draft season! Draft season! Draft season! Pardon my excitement, but it's one of my favorite times of the year. We all get the chance to study and speculate about the new crop of rookies coming in and determine their potential fit with NFL teams, and in this case, the Dallas Cowboys.

This draft season, especially, is shaping up to be an exciting one because the Cowboys have clear needs pretty much across the board. That means there is no clear answer as to which direction they will go with any of their draft picks, especially when they're on the clock at 19 in the first round.

There is of course one draft need that has to be near the top of the list, if not #1 overall.

There can be no arguing the Dallas Cowboys absolutely need to address the linebacker position, especially with Sean Lee's continued health concerns and Anthony Hitchens' potential departure via free agency.

Finding linebacker depth through the draft is a must!

A lot of Cowboys fans have already become enamored with former Georgia Bulldogs LB Roquan Smith, and rightfully so.

Smith will likely be the first linebacker off the board when the 2018 NFL Draft gets underway, which means he won't be available for the Cowboys at 19.

But don't be disheartened Cowboys fans, I think there is a linebacker in this draft class who possesses the God-given talent to be even better. Let me introduce you to a linebacker who I believe has Superstar potential.

Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds

Tremaine Edmunds checks all the boxes for an NFL linebacker. He is one of the more intriguing prospects in this entire draft class because of his versatility to play in any scheme. But, most intriguing is he is slated to be the second youngest (19) prospect ever drafted, only Amobi Okoye was younger.

But don't let his youth fool you; he's a monster on the field.

Tremaine Edmunds is a natural in so many phases of the game, and it has everything to do with his rare athleticism.

Edmunds has the size of an edge player (6'5", 250), but the movement/athleticism of the smaller and quicker linebackers we've seen become popular around the NFL. To put it simply, he looks like a lion, but moves like a gazelle in the open field with his long strides and flexible hips.

Here's an example of his loose/flexible hips in coverage.

Tremaine Edmunds loose hips in coverage - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

This isn't a play you would typically ask a 6'5", 250-pound man to make, but Tremaine Edmunds makes it look easy.

On this particular play, Edmunds drops into his hook/curl zone coverage. He then realizes the quarterback has decided to pull the ball down and scramble. He shows excellent field awareness and breaks from his coverage responsibility to make the open field tackle on the QB, despite the referee getting in the way.

This play probably wouldn't have been possible if Edmunds was unable to flip his hips to change direction in order to make the tackle after covering the tight end. He does this with ease.

What I really like about Tremaine Edmunds is his versatility to play in any kind of defensive front/scheme. But, I personally believe he fits best in a 4-3 scheme, which is why I think he makes an excellent Cowboys draft prospect.

I think he fits best in the 4-3 scheme because of all of the different positions he can play. In the 4-3 scheme, Edmunds could play:

MIKE (middle): He has tremendous gap-shooting ability and play anticipation.
SAM (strong-side): He has the ability to stop the run and still drop into coverage.
EDGE: He has the size, athleticism, flexibility, and explosion.

Tremaine Edmunds played all of these positions while at Virginia Tech, and I think he could even play WILL (weak-side) as well, but that's something he wasn't asked to do in college.

But, you don't have to take my word for it.

Edmunds at MIKE:

Tremaine Edmunds read/react - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Here you see Tremaine Edmunds playing the MIKE LB position. He quickly reads and diagnoses the play, shooting the gap to make the tackle for a loss on third down.

It's an excellent play and shows the God-given talent he was born with. You can't teach those kind of instincts.

Edmunds at SAM:

Tremaine Edmunds covering RB - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

On this particular play, Edmunds is lined up at the SAM LB position and has responsibility of covering the running back out of the backfield. Not only does he once again show his loose hips in coverage, but he makes an excellent open-field tackle on third down for a minimal gain to get the defense off the field.

Edmunds at EDGE:

Tremaine Edmunds off the edge - Streamable

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

Tremaine Edmunds was also utilized as an edge rusher, at times, while at Virginia Tech. Here you see him lined up in a two-point stance on the defense's left side.

At the snap of the ball, you can really see his first-step explosion, natural bend and athleticism.

The TE trying to block him had no chance, and Edmunds probably would have gotten the sack if not for the slight hold and the QB's ability to get rid of the ball quickly.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

As you can see, Tremaine Edmunds is an intriguing prospect for the Dallas Cowboys, and could probably start right away at the SAM LB position while also providing much-needed depth in other areas.

He's not a polished prospect by any means, he's still raw, but I believe he has the upside to be one of the great ones.

If I were to compare him to a current NFL player, I would compare him to either Anthony Barr (Vikings) or Jamie Collins (Browns). Both players have been successful as inside linebackers as well as edge players in the NFL, and that's what I envision Edmunds will do in his career.

I think Edmunds is going to open a lot of eyes once we get further into the draft process, especially after he puts on a show at the combine. He will likely shoot up draft boards, which means he should be in play for the Dallas Cowboys with the 19th overall selection. I have absolutely zero concerns about taking him there.

What do you think about Tremaine Edmunds as a Cowboys draft prospect?


Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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17 Comments
  • Mr. Jaguar

    Brian it would be GOD sent if Edmunds is still on the board at 19. But what if Vea the DT is there as well. Who do you select?
    If it was me it would be DT and draft a LB in rd 2. Just my 2 cents.

    • Brian Martin

      I think I’d still have to go LB in that scenario. Edmunds ability to play several positions is just too good to pass up, especially with the lack of depth the Cowboys have there. I think you can find a pretty solid 1-tech later in the draft. But, I wouldn’t be upset if they took Vea. He’s a monster on the interior of the DL.

  • Kevin Black

    I like Edmunds football IQ. He seems to understand what the offense is trying to do each play. That was one of my problems with Roquan Smith. Smith has athleticism, but he was more reactionary. Edmunds seems to start going before the play is finished developing.

    I’d pick Edmunds over Vea or Smith at this point.

    • Brian Martin

      I really like Edmunds football IQ. I still have Smith rated higher, but not by much. It would be a tough call for me if I had to decide between the two if they are both there at 19.

      • Kevin Black

        I put a lot more stock in football IQ than I do athleticism. If you can get both, you’ve hit the lottery.

        When watching Smith play, he seemed too reactionary to me, using his athleticism to make up the time delay. He reminds me of Carter out of NC years ago. Great athlete and did alright in college, but his athleticism covered his football IQ, clearly reacting to the play after it’s developed.

        I haven’t watched much of Edmunds, but based on the videos you show here, he seems to be moving before the play is developed. This seems more much like Sean Lee to me. The bonus is that with his athletic body, he can do more damage and get players much deeper behind the line.

        Give me football IQ every day. Athleticism will wane over time, but football IQ will make you a hall of famer.

        • Brian Martin

          What I like most about Edmunds is his versatility to play different positions, whereas Smith is most likely just a weak side LB. I’m not sure Smith could stand up to playing MLB.

          • Kevin Black

            I noticed he played SAM almost as effectively as Lee plays the WILL. I didn’t see if he was good at shedding blocks. How’s his skill at that?

          • Brian Martin

            He’s still a little raw in that area. He needs to do a better job of finding off blocks, he sometimes lazy, but that will improve with NFL coaching I think.

          • Kevin Black

            Block shedding seems to be an issue for a lot of college players. Is it due to the type of college offenses being so pass oriented?

          • Brian Martin

            The spread offense a lot of college teams use has a lot to do with LBs struggling with stack and shedding. But, I think it has more to do with coaching and learning the proper technique. There is so much turnover year after year in the college ranks that coaches just don’t have the time to stress the importance of fundamentals/technique.

          • DevilDog58

            You know, I think that’s one of the reasons there are so many more concussions in football today. Kids aren’t being taught to break down and tackle with their heads up. Most lead with their helmets or a combination of helmet and shoulder. And so many DB’s just dive head first into an offensive players legs or feet. We were taught to keep your eyes on the opponents number, lead with the shoulder and wrap up, then lift and drive. Fundamentals have gone by the wayside in so many things.

  • EverybodyTalks

    The ironic thing about your article was that everything you said about Tremaine, you could say about Hitchens. They are like clones of each other on several aspects. Imagine the Cowboys with 2 Hitchens or if you prefer 2 Edmunds. The other ironic thing is that, in a roundabout way, we are saying Hitchens is worth a 1st round pick. I mean, aren’t we? I just don’t see how/why we wouldn’t resign him and draft Edmunds. Right now our roster has Lee, Smith and Wilson @ LB. That’s it. Even resigning Hitchens and drafting Edmunds would only give us 5 LBs. After this season, you content with 5 LBs? Me neither. Would they draft 2 LBs? Josey is still in the wings, waiting! Great article.

    • Brian Martin

      I think Edmunds is going to be better than Anthony Hitchens. I think he has Superstar potential. I do think however that the Cowboys should probably double dip at LB in the draft. They definitely need depth at the position.

      • EverybodyTalks

        Very possible, a superstar. I hope so, especially if we draft him. All I’m saying is that Tremaine will take time to develop in the NFL. We will still need the experience of a veteran, like Hitchens. I sense folks think Anthony is of little value. Maybe I am being over sensitive, With Lee at 32, we need to hold on to Hitchens, even if we draft 2 LBs

        • Brian Martin

          I would love to keep Hitchens, but I think somebody else will offer him more money than the Cowboys can afford.

          • DevilDog58

            And I think that’s because our GM (or lack of one) pays average to above average players like superstars. I never understood why Jones gave Tyrone Crawford that huge contract.

          • Brian Martin

            At the time it looked like a good signing, but Crawford never progressed in his development. Unfortunately, that’s just the way things go sometimes and what worries me about signing DeMarcus Lawrence long-term. His back surgeries are a huge red flag for me.

NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Class: How Many Will Be Starters In 2018?

Kevin Brady

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2018 NFL Combine: 3 LBs Who Impressed
Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have been showered with praise by most national NFL media outlets for their 2018 NFL Draft class. NFL.com graded the Cowboys as having the 2nd best class in the league, and most other analysts have agreed that the team had a strong showing.

But now, of course, it's time to see what these new players will actually do on the field. Some are hoping the team found 3-5 new starters for the 2018 roster, but history would suggest that is pretty rare.

Dallas' 2016 draft class has been lauded as one of the best in the last decade, especially considering they look to have found their franchise quarterback in round four. That strong class only features four full-time starters heading into 2018, but we have to wonder if that's the outlier and not the norm.

Still, as we look back and examine this 2018 draft class it really appears they have found three day one starters in the first three rounds.

First round pick Leighton Vander Esch is expected to be the starting MIKE linebacker this season, with former second round selection Jaylon Smith moving to SAM. Vander Esch wasn't my favorite option at 19, but he is certainly starter-worthy in this Cowboys LB corps.

On day two the Cowboys added OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup, two of my personal favorite picks of their entire class. Williams should be the starting LG week 1 of the season, and Michael Gallup may overtake Allen Hurns as the most productive WR on the roster by year's end.

Cowboys Land Small School WR In Latest PFF Mock Draft

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 1: DUPLICATE***Colorado State Rams wide receiver Michael Gallup (4) picks up a few yards after catch as Colorado Buffaloes defensive back Isaiah Oliver (26) comes in for the tackle during the first quarter on September 1, 2017 in Denver, Colorado at Sports Authority Field. (Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post)

What about the rest of the class?

Dorance Armstrong will probably have too much competition to start at defensive end this season, but he should be an interesting rotational pass rusher. TE Dalton Schultz has the chance to surprise some people, but overtaking Geoff Swaim as the "starter" would be unexpected.

After that, the player with the best chance to make the team and contribute early on might be Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson. Wilson was a late day-two, early day-three pick to me so snagging him in the sixth round should provide incredible value to this roster. That wide out room is getting very crowded, though, so Wilson has his work cut out for him heading into camp.

How many of the Cowboys' 2018 draft picks will be starters in 2018? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.


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NFL Draft

Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?

One of the many winners of the 2018 NFL Draft were, without a doubt, the Dallas Cowboys. Not only did they addressed some of the team's most pressing needs, but they managed to draft very talented, capable players beyond the first round.

Cowboys Nation had to feel better about the rookie class the front office walked away with, specially after the second day of the Draft. Just like last year, they managed to find steals in the second and third rounds. In 2017, they did so with Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. Now, they stayed put at their original picks and walked away with OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup.

But first things first. In the eyes of many, Leighton Vander Esch wasn't worth the 19th overall pick. While I do agree that Vander Esch was a questionable selection, the Cowboys fixed arguably their most concerning position of all. As much as it pains to admit it, Sean Lee has yet to play an entire NFL season and Jaylon Smith was pretty much the only other capable starter on the roster.

Cowboys en Español: Dallas Selecciona a Vander Esch, ¿Quién Sigue?

Although Vander Esch needs to develop a ton before reaching his full potential. he's a week 1 starter and an early contributor for this defense. Whether it felt like a "reach" or not, the Cowboys took a starter in the Boise State linebacker.

Later, the Cowboys managed to add an arguably first-round talent with pick #50 to plug-and-play along the offensive line. Texas OL Connor Williams was also seen as a tackle prospect, but he'll likely start at guard for Dallas as a rookie.

Since Ron Leary left for Denver, the left guard spot hasn't been as stable. Jonathan Cooper did a decent job filling that spot, but with Williams taking his place, the Cowboys dominance in the trenches will finally return. Playing next to All-Pros Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, Connor Williams might become the best rookie in this class for the Cowboys.

One can't simply say the team found a "replacement" for Dez Bryant since he's a special player and with a very specific skill set, but Michael Gallup from Colorado State has the potential to become the team's WR1 pretty soon.

In the team's effort to build a Dak-friendly offense, Gallup is a crafty and smooth route-runner who has what it takes to play in any spot of the offense. His skill-set will allow him to play anywhere on the field and become Dak's favorite target in a year in which Jason Witten and Dez Bryant will no longer be lining up on his squad.

Taken in the first three rounds, Vander Esch, Williams and Gallup will be unquestionable starters. The question, however, is who else could become a starter for the Cowboys? Who could line up and start in week 1?

Dallas Cowboys Add Depth on Day 3, Building Future with Young Starters 1

Even though it definitely isn't as certain as the other three rookies, I'm betting on Dalton Schultz to be a more important starter than we imagine. Listen, maybe it's not an ideal scenario to have the TE from Stanford start in week 1, but it could be necessary.

The Rico Gathers Adventure might just be over before it starts and Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin may not be anything special. In college, Schultz was pretty good at run blocking. In the Cowboys' offense, led by one of the best running backs in the league, Ezekiel Elliott, Schultz may be able to find success earlier than expected.

Besides, he has what it takes to catch passes in the NFL and although he certainly won't be the flashiest, he could be enough to give Dak Prescott a reliable tight end.

Dalton Schultz could be the surprise of this Draft for Dallas. He'll probably become a starter at some point in the season and for a fourth-round pick, that's a very good thing to say.

For a front office that's constantly bashed by Cowboys Nation, their job at this year's NFL Draft was a pretty good one. Now it's just a matter of time to find out which picks were as good as we originally thought.

Tell me what you think about "Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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NFL Draft

Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch
Loren Orr / Getty Images

A week ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walked out to the stage at AT&T Stadium to announce the Dallas Cowboys first pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. For the second consecutive year, a large portion of Cowboys Nation was not pretty happy about the player America's Team had drafted in the first day of the Draft.

Boise State's Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch has become one of the main debates among Cowboys fans right now and will continue to be one at least until the season starts. Some are fine with the decision the front office made and some simply don't view Vander Esch as a first round talent.

Naturally, taking Leighton in the first round has been widely compared to the team's last first round pick: Taco Charlton.

Both of these selections resulted in fans all around the world complaining and criticizing the selections since they both seemed like a reach, arguing that they could've gotten better players at other positions.

But fans shouldn't be so quick to compare the Charlton and Vander Esch selections, because they really aren't that similar. Sure, most of the media and Draft fans didn't consider any of these players worthy of a first round pick, but that doesn't mean both players were ranked similarly in the Cowboys' draft board.

Defensive End Taco Charlton, despite showing some very promising flashes towards the end of the year, wasn't able to become a starter at any point during his rookie season. Hopefully he develops into one next season. But when you're talking about first-round picks, being a solid starter at the end of the season at the latest is a very usual expectation.

Possibly what made the Taco pick hurt even more, is the fact that the front office didn't even consider him a first-round talent. Although he was drafted to wear the Star with the 28th overall pick, he wasn't their guy.

Drew Davison on Twitter

The #Cowboys had three first-round grades on DEs, but Taco Charlton wasn't one of them.

With Leighton Vander Esch, the same can't be said. The Cowboys knew he was their guy and that they were going to take him, regardless of the situation. For many weeks we wondered about just every scenario the team might face when they were on the clock.

What if DE Harold Landry is available? What if Calvin Ridley is still on the board? What if Derwin James slides, would they trade up?

For the front office, there was quite a lot of talent to choose from at 19 (not to mention James did slide out of the top 15), but they still took Leighton Vander Esch, even with Landry and Ridley on the board. We might disagree with the pick. We might not think the Boise State's product should've been taken so early. That's completely fine.

But Cowboys Nation should be happy knowing that this was the guy they wanted all along. Maybe if Derwin James hadn't been drafted by the Los Angeles Chargers with the 17th pick, Dallas would have still taken Vander Esch.

 "If the Cowboys traded up a few spots in the first round, I believe it would have been to ensure they got Vander Esch, not get James or Edmunds." Dane Brugler on the Cowboys' approach to the Draft. 

For now, it's time to root for the Dallas Cowboys' new rookie. Vander Esch will provide a special factor to this defense and has the potential to become a very good starter down the road. Playing side by side with Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith will certainly help his development and turn him into an impact player soon.

At the end of the day, it takes years to properly evaluate how a draft pick turned out in the NFL. There are first round players who turn out to be complete busts just like there are sixth or seventh round players that go on to become superstars in the league.

The Dallas Cowboys did a hell of a job addressing their needs throughout the Draft this year and there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about this year's draft picks. Leighton Vander Esch is without a doubt, one of them.

Tell me what you think about "Why Cowboys Nation Should Feel Better About Leighton Vander Esch" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!


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