Next up as I look in more detail at the Titans' draft picks (yes, I intentionally skipped Blidi Wreh-Wilson for now and am coming back to him) is fifth-round defensive end Lavar Edwards from LSU.
My initial reaction when the Titans selected Edwards in the fifth round, my initial reaction was he was a good fit for the tweener player Jerry Gray seems to like and didn't have last season with the departure of Jason Jones. For several reasons, I think that's why they drafted him. In Baton Rouge, he was not a starter but had experience playing both LDE and RDE, and also kicked inside on passing downs. At 6'4" and 277 pounds, he has good size for a defensive end. By comparison, Jones is listed at 6'5", 276 pounds, and Edwards' 35 1/2" arms make him longer than he is tall.
LSU had their defensive ends do a lot of mush rushing, concentrating less on sacking the quarterback (outside of obvious passing situations) and more on disrupting the quarterback run game. While perhaps a sensible strategy when it comes to winning, it makes watching their defensive ends unenjoyable for me. Watching Edwards reinforces what the scouting reports indicate, that he has excellent initial quickness that too often doesn't necessarily translate into what I think of necessarily as making plays. I'm pretty sure there's more than just the mush rush going on here, but actual technique flaws I'm not willing to pretend I can do anything other than repeat what I read about. This seems to be true of approximately every LSU defensive lineman. Tracy Rocker and Keith Millard, you have work to do.
Edwards was the third LSU defensive end off the board, behind Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery, and he was third on the depth chart as well. His production would have been better if he played more, but I care very little, if at all, about college numbers. Being third on the depth chart is a concern, but sitting behind Mingo and Montgomery isn't like losing a quarterback competition to Tyler Palko (though of course Dave Wannstedt). At least some of his work at defensive tackle in sub package situations came as part of a three-man speed-oriented line.
What will he do for the Titans? It's hard to see him playing nearly as much as Jason Jones did two years ago. For one, Jones was a pretty good interior pass rusher. Second, even this defensive end depth chart is deeper than the one two years ago after Derrick Morgan blew out his knee. Third, what LSU asked of Edwards seemed to take advantage of his quickness. If the Titans really envision Edwards in that tweener role, that's not a role that privileges quickness so much, as we saw with the struggles Jones had. Rather, the Titans will probably ask him to anchor a lot. Can he do that? Tracy Rocker indicated at the press conference when they drafted him he thought he could. I'm sure Rocker's watch a ton more of him than I have, but that's something I'll have to see before I can trust. The defensive line shakeout is still a mystery to me. Pencil Edwards in somewhere in the top nine, though I'll have to see how he does with what they have him to do before I'll put him above ninth as a rookie.