Fifth Round: 142nd Pick
LSU defensive end Lavar Edwards was not a starter during his four years in Baton Rouge, but his play in the defensive rotation for the Tigers has fans drooling with excitement.
Edwards hopes to be the latest SEC player to go from collegiate backup in a stacked lineup to NFL draft pick.
Edwards is a tall and muscular end that was a major part of the Tigers defense the last few seasons, despite not having much buzz around him.
Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery get most of the press, but watching highlights of the LSU defense shows Edwards' NFL-caliber play.
Aside from his physique, Edwards has a non-stop motor when pursuing the quarterback or ball-carrier in the backfield. He finished with 10.5 sacks in limited snaps during four years in central Louisiana. He also racked up 20 tackles-for-loss during that same time frame, according to sports-reference.com.
Edwards has good speed for a player his size—4.77 40-yard time at 6’4”—but does not purely rely on his speed to get around the edge. He has a good feel for rushing the passer inside or outside, not exclusively one.
Many speed rushers rely on pure quickness to get around tackles, but Edwards has a more accomplished set of moves to get around his opposition.
Despite his size, Edwards has a tough time pushing around heavier lineman on a consistent basis. His initial push is good, but the secondary moves are not nearly as strong if the first attempt does not work.
The other major concern about Edwards is the fact that he does not have starting experience past high school. He did play behind some very good ends at LSU and will probably be a part of a rotation in the NFL anyway, but the lack of starting may have some questioning his consistency.
Edwards was not a part of the ten-name list posted on the door of LSU strength and conditioning coach, Tommy Moffitt, which was used to embarrass players in front of scouts.
Moffitt claimed that the list of players were lazy and undisciplined for missing class and weight lifting, although he has backtracked a bit since. Obviously, Edwards would have been on that list if he was not doing what he was supposed to, so that is encouraging.
No reports about character being an issue.
His aforementioned size and speed should be noted, for he fits the bill of a prototypical 4-3 defensive end at the next level. He possesses some long arms at 35.5” and had a 33” vertical at the combine.
Edwards was a rotational player in a 4-3 defense for the Tigers. He was asked to rush the passer on most plays but occasionally dropped into coverage.
He uses his size-strength combination with a few spin moves to get around slower linemen.
Edwards is also very good at lining up outside and then rushing the passer on a delayed blitz through the A-gap. He will have to get a little bit stronger to deal with bigger linemen in the NFL, but an offseason conditioning program should take care of that.
Against the Run
Edwards is good at getting off his block and making tackles on running backs in the backfield or around the line of scrimmage.
His 20 tackles-for-loss in very few opportunities speaks volumes to that idea. He has the size to eat up smaller backs and bring down bigger backs with relative ease.
He also shows good awareness on quick pitches to the back on his side by having the necessary side-to-side quickness to bring down the running back.
In terms of engaging offensive linemen with his hands, he packs a lot of power in his two paws.
He also is good at putting his hands up at the line if his opponent stops him short of the quarterback.
Two such plays resulted in interceptions during his career, including one returned for a touchdown in his senior season.
Edwards will likely have a similar role that he did at LSU as a rotational pass-rusher off the bench. Rotations are valued in the NFL more than ever, and Edwards would be a solid alternative in case of injury or fatigue.