6'3 5/8, 238 pounds | Outside linebacker | Iowa
Coverage/Zone Defense Skills: Reads the quarterback and receiver simultaneously with ease. Can move his body along with the quarterback’s eyes. Very comfortable in space, spent a lot of time out wide with a lot of ground to cover against athletic tight ends and slot receivers. Can turn and run with an athletic tight end.
Instincts/Recognition: Very coachable player because of his natural feel for the game. Easily flows to the action and is always headed in the right direction. Minimal wasted motion and steps, keys in on his reads.
Pass Rush: Just two career sacks, was not used as an edge rusher in Iowa’s defense. Spent most of his time off the line out in space rather than up in the trenches. Has a quick burst but does not play with a low center of gravity when rushing the passer.
Pursuit/Lateral Movement and Agility: Has tremendous fluidity in his hips, especially considering his frame. May lack the top tier speed when moving sideline-to-sideline but he is constantly near the action and can get himself to the ball carrier consistently with his proper angles and productive first few steps.
Quickness/Explosion: Can fly in to a gap when moving downhill. A decisive linebacker that can fill quickly with power. Happy feet that get going right away, can stick with a target in space.
Strength/Ability to Shed Blocks: Does a nice job of keeping his arms extended in front of him, preventing blockers from locking on. Plays low enough to dip his shoulder beneath the hands of oncoming blockers. Keeps his base low enough to maintain strength throughout an engagement.
Tackling: Always in or near the action. Can deliver a pop when he is low, but lacks the brute power than sends a jolt to the ball carrier. Uses his long arms to engulf his target, wraps up well and is reliable in the open field. Overshadowed statistically by teammate MLB Pat Angerer, but Edds Is a more reliable defender against the oncoming ball carrier.
Versatility: Played outside linebacker his entire career at Iowa, mainly on the strong side. Has the tools and anticipation skills to play inside. Can play like a lightweight out in space against athletic tight ends, but also has the power to play in between the tackles and bang pads with the offensive line.
Final Word: AJ Edds, in many ways, is similar to former Hawkeye and Vikings starting weak side linebacker Chad Greenway. He has the size and frame of a run stuffer, but more than enough athletic ability to cover tight ends and running backs. He is a smart player that the Iowa coaching staff raves about when it comes to being a complete football player on and off the field. He may never be a superstar in the NFL, but he is a guy that does everything well and will be a reliable starter in the league for years. He needs to add bulk to his lower half however, as he is noticeably thin down there in comparison to most 240+ pound linebackers in the NFL. I see him as an outstanding strong side linebacker that has the potential to be a presence inside down the road. He will likely be taken in the 3rd-4th round region.