So You've Drafted A.J. Edds: A New Owner's Guide

Congratulations! You've just made the wonderful decision to draft A.J. Edds! Like most new Edds owners, you're no doubt filled with questions about your new family member. We here at Black Heart Gold Pants will try our best to answer any questions you might have.

Is this A.J. Edds guy any good? We're a bit biased, but we think he is. We were even a little sure that he'd go in the draft before Pat Angerer, and, well, that didn't happen.

Why did you think Edds was better than Angerer? Why's he available this late? Did he stab a guy? Whoa, whoa, let's settle down. First of all, zero character issues from Edds. No arrests, permanent team captain, three-year Leadership Group member, Forest Evashevski Scholastic Achievement Award winner. Solid all the way through off the field.

Is he not very athletic? Actually, we've said for months that Edds' cover skills rivaled those of Chad Greenway, who's currently a mainstay in the Vikings' starting lineup. Edds is 6'4" and change, about 245 pounds, and was a highly-touted tight end coming out of high school, and that quick change-of-direction ability is evident in his film.

So again, why's he still available on Saturday? What are you not telling us? Honestly, we're not entirely sure why he's here. Perhaps the common perception is that he's a "system linebacker," in that he's made to look better since he was just on a defense without a weak point. Here's some film:

Now, one thing that might stand out is that Edds is not a highlight-reel hitter, though he's fundamentally solid all the same. Plus, even as an every-down backer, Edds' tackle numbers weren't great: 78 as a senior, or 6.0 a game, and just a hair under two solo tackles a game. So if the perception is that he was more of a product of an already great Iowa defense--the quote about the Alabama defense fits Iowa, to an extent--then certainly a GM might say, "of course Edds looked good, he had a 2nd-round backer right next to him and a hellbanshee defensive line in front of him."

And yet, Edds was never anything less than consistent at his SLB post, never leading us to believe that he didn't have what it takes for the next level. He covered wideouts pretty frequently, and he did so well. Now, granted, there's a difference between, say, Iowa State's slot man and the VIkings' slot man, so perhaps his athleticism won't allow him that same ability at the next level. But any linebacker would get incinerated by half the slots in the league in a one-on-one setting.

The real concern, then, is shedding blockers, which Edds struggled with at times. Some of that has to do with the defensive scheming, since Edds' primary responsibility was drop coverage most of the time (it changed based on the situation, of course). But while it would be a stretch to say that Edds was ever a liability in any aspect of his game at Iowa, it should also be noted that four times over the course of the year, Iowa gave up 4.5 or more yards per carry. Not particularly damning for Edds or Iowa, but come on, the Hawkeyes had a pretty stout defensive unit as a whole. And yet, they could be run upon, and Edds was at times a run-upon-able backer.

Edds' strength must be pass coverage, then? Pretty much. He's no wimp, but he may not be the best goal line option without putting on another 15-25 pounds. Granted, Iowa didn't need him to do that, so it's easily possible that he's got the frame for those extra pounds once he gets to the next level. But for now, for the product that this team's actually getting today, he is more cheetah than lion. Or more lion than elephant. Whatever, he's not huge.

But he can move? Oh, dude can move. Excels in zone coverage or in run pursuit when he's got a lane. If nothing else, he's the perfect antidote to a Chester Taylor or any of the other 3rd down backs, because he can track just about anybody down if given the opportunity.

So will Edds be awesome? Awesome is a stretch at this point unless he can defeat blockers more consistently at the point of attack. Of course, if he did that well enough at Iowa, he'd have been drafted by now, because the rest of his resume is nearly flawless. Hell of a guy, hell of an athlete, hell of a cover backer. If he improves the rest of his game, he's a round-two talent going in the fourth or later. Hell of an if.

Anything else we need to know? His last name pronounced with a long E. Like "Eads." Not kidding. Hardly of import when it comes to his game, but just rest assured that if you hear someone pronounce it otherwise, they're probably not nearly the expert they fancy themselves. Otherwise, congratulations on the pick; you're getting an asset to the organization.

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