The annual NFL Combine is a chance for prospects across the country to showcase their physical talents and skills to scouts across the league. For Tremaine Edmunds and Tim Settle, it’s an opportunity to secure their ever-growing draft stock.
Edmunds seems like a first-round lock, no matter how he performs at the combine. The 19-year-old junior linebacker has been a consensus first-round pick in just about every mock draft you look at, and NFL Network’s Mike Mayock agrees.
“The beauty of this kid is he’s 19 years old, he’s 6-5, 250,” Mayock said. “At 19 years old. He doesn’t turn 20 until a couple days after the draft.”
Mayock praised Edmunds for his ability to make an impact both off the edge and as an off-the-ball linebacker in the NFL, making him scheme-versatile.
“He also has a scary skill set as an edge rusher, which he did a little bit at Virginia Tech, and I know for sure he’s working on that now,” Mayock said. “So I see incredible upside. I see an off-the-ball linebacker, I think some of the 3-4 teams could look at him and say he could be a 34 outside linebacker, in addition to being a 34 inside linebacker. Right now what I say is a starting-off-the-ball linebacker and a potential sub at edge rusher.”
Mayock currently has Edmunds as his top linebacker in this draft class, and says that it’s really hard to find an NFL comparison for Edmunds.
“That’s my point. That’s the definition of unique, there is only one of them,” Mayock said.
Edmunds’ unique skill set was on display during his three years at Virginia Tech, where he started 29 games. He finished his Hokie career with 35 career tackles for loss and 10 sacks, while also forcing four forced fumbles. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay both have Edmunds being a top-10 draft pick, going eighth to the Chicago Bears and 10th to the Oakland Raiders, respectively. In USA Today’s Draftwire mock draft, Edmunds was taken by the New Orleans Saints at No. 27. NFL.com gives Edmunds a rating of 7.28, placing him in their “Pro Bowl-caliber player” category.
There’s a chance that Edmunds will be joined by another Hokie in the first round of this year’s draft. Defensive tackle Tim Settle, who declared as a redshirt sophomore, has generated a lot of buzz in recent weeks from multiple analysts, including Kiper and Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller. Mayock buys the hype on Settle as well, but isn’t sure if Settle is a first-round talent.
“He’s one of those players I didn’t know anything about when I first put his tape in,” Mayock said of the 6-foot-3, 335-pound Settle. “I noticed him when I went in to watch (Tremaine) Edmunds and was like, ‘Who is this big dude in the middle?’ I mean, wow. I love it when I notice a guy and I’m not even studying that particular player.
“So when I went back in to study him at 335 plus or minus pounds, he’s got short area quickness that’s rare. That’s the first thing that jumps off. Can he affect the pass game at 335? Maybe. Again, that’s rare. I know he can stop the run. When he stays low and plays with leverage, he’s hard to move, even with the double team. He’s got short area quickness that he can threaten the pocket. And he plays hard. I can’t remember which tape it was, but he chased down a screen pass about 30 yards from behind. You don’t ever see 335-pound guys do that.”
Settle surprised many when he declared for the draft, since he had two years of collegiate eligibility remaining. He started just one season for Virginia Tech, but totaled 36 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss and four sacks in that season. But now, Settle seems like a comfortable day-two draft pick, with potential to be selected in the first round.
“We’re kind of facing a changing dynamic in this draft, with the underclassmen, and more and more are coming out every year. Even if positions are not used to seeing them come out, like offensive line and defensive line,” Mayock said. “I think the hard thing for some of these guys to get used to is the NFL — and I’m not talking about this kid, I’m saying in general — defensive linemen coming out early, every snap you have to play with your hair on fire in the NFL. Every snap. Can’t take downs off. Got to make every snap count. I think the rotation helps in the NFL, but I think it’s something that young players have to get used to.”
Settle has not been listed in any mock drafts currently available, but NFL.com gives him a rating of 6.17, placing him in their “should become an instant starter” category.
The NFL Combine workouts begin on Friday, March 2 at 9 a.m. The NFL Network will air live coverage of Combine workouts through Monday, March 5. On Thursday, we’ll look at all of the Hokies participating in the NFL Combine, and where their draft stock currently stands.