Bay Area

Mario Edwards Jr. looks to disprove doubters

Edwards Jr. aiming high

The Oakland Raiders opened rookie minicamp last week with all eyes cast firmly on the team’s top two drafts choices. First-round pick Amari Cooper is widely viewed as a can’t miss stud who will excel in the NFL from day one. Second-round pick Mario Edwards, Jr., however, raised some eyebrows of analysts and fans when his name was called so early at the NFL Draft, as his undeniable talent was often overshadowed by lackluster productivity during his collegiate career at Florida State.

Edwards is out to change his reputation, and minicamp is his first opportunity to do so.

Edwards, the son of former Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Mario Edwards, was a five-star recruit out of high school and arrived at college with huge expectations. But, just 8 total sacks in three seasons had many questioning his work ethic.

While Edwards currently tips the scales at 277 pounds, he ballooned to well over 300 pounds as a sophomore, and his conditioning often led to him being substituted out, especially in the second halves of games. Coach Jack Del Rio isn’t interested in looking back, as he was quoted by Jerry McDonald as saying, “We’re about going forward from here … how we can mold him and shape him and develop him into the kind of player we’re looking for.”

Prior to minicamp, Edwards, Jr. got some advice from Edwards, Sr., telling McDonald his father said, “You don’t have four years. This is your job. You don’t have school, and there’s no excuse for not knowing the plays. Approach it as a job and an opportunity to be there.”

Raiders fans are hoping Edwards, Jr. can live up to his immense potential, teaming with second-year star Khalil Mack, last year’s first-round pick, and third-year linebacker Sio Moore to form the nucleus of a young and potentially very good defensive unit. So far, Edwards, Jr. is doing and saying all the right things. 

Photo Credit:  Harry How/Getty Images

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Ray Hartjen

A Public Relations pro by day, by night @RayHartjen follows parallel - yet somehow still often conflicting - paths searching for hair metal guitar legend status, a career as a journeyman 4th line center in the NHL, and the treasured laminates to be a hanger-on in the circus that is Formula 1.


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