It happened much later than most anticipated, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally addressed one of their biggest needs by taking Tennessee State guard Kadeem Edwards at the top of the fifth round.
Despite names being on the board who were more well-known, such as Stanford's David Yankey and Baylor's Cyril Richardson, the native of Sanford, Florida, continues the trend of offensive picks for the Bucs in this draft.
Edwards may not be a name the casual Buccaneers fan is familiar with, but a closer look reveals a player who brings an attractive combination of size, power and athleticism to a position that needs more of it in Tampa Bay.
By all accounts, Carl Nicks expects to be ready to return as the Bucs' starting left guard. But even if that's the case, Nicks has already said that his toe injury will cause him a certain amount of pain for likely the rest of his life, which doesn't bode well for an athlete who has over 330 pounds attached to said toe.
Jamon Meredith was re-signed and should lock down the right guard spot after a decent 2013 season, but Oniel Cousins should be a depth guy and nothing more. Taking Edwards gives the Bucs some breathing room if Nicks can't return as quickly as planned.
Athletic, High Motor
It doesn't take long for Edwards' play-to-the-whistle style to show up when you watch his film. He never misses a chance to get one last shot in on an opposing defender, which is the type of thing that can slowly wear an opponent down over the course of four quarters.
Edwards has the ideal frame for a guard in that he's built very solid and compact, but with a great wingspan. His skill set still needs plenty of development, but he's a very coachable player who is willing to put in the work required to reach his potential. Apparently, Edwards made a good impression on the Bucs' staff at a recent private workout:
Kadeem Edwards said he worked out for the Bucs a month ago. Said OL coach [George Warhop] loved him and made that known.— JennaLaineBucs (@JennaLaineBucs) May 10, 2014
The Bottom Line
Edwards dealt with weight fluctuation issues at Tennessee State, and he's far from a finished product. But there are enough natural tools to work with, and he has a willingness to work and be coached up. Tampa Bay's staff will need to develop him sooner rather than later in order to help shore up one of the biggest need areas.
If the Bucs are able to succeed, Edwards could become a quality starter down the road, making him a steal this late in the draft.