Editor's note: Scott Bair will be conducting his weekly CHAT today at 11 a.m. Join the conversation right here.
NAPA – Mario Edwards Jr. doesn’t like watching film from early in his junior year at Florida State. It’s not something he’s entirely proud of.
The sight of him at 310 pounds makes Edwards cringe.
Frustration stems from knowing that he could’ve done more that year. He could’ve done a whole lot better had his body been right. The defensive lineman only had eight collegiate sacks and three forced fumbles after being named the nation’s top prep recruit.
In Edwards’ mind, not good enough.
He looks at college as a missed opportunity to be great, with weight fluctuations and overconfidence luring him away from realizing vast potential.
Edwards slimmed way down to 279 pounds by season’s end, excelled in the pre-draft process and proved himself worthy of the Raiders’ second-round pick at No. 35 overall. That happy ending didn’t erase the past.
Missed opportunity still haunts him today. That isn’t a bad thing. It’s become fuel to a 21-year old set on not blowing a golden opportunity.
“I look at it as a chance to redeem myself,” Edwards said. “I was highly recruited out of high school and didn’t do what I wanted to do in college. I look at this as a second chance to prove myself and a fresh start.
“Deep down, I know how I should have played in college and where I could’ve went in the NFL Draft if I could have gotten some of my personal things under control. I feel like I have those things under control, so now it’s only about going out there and playing.”
The weight issues bug Edwards the most. It was something he could’ve controlled and didn’t. The discipline wasn’t there. After all, he could do standing backflips at 310 pounds. Why not eat when you can still perform?
Edwards wasn’t at his best then, but striving for greatness is his goal now. Edwards remains 279 pounds and says his weight “is completely under control.”
“I feel like I’m a lot quicker, and I feel like I’m stronger now than ever despite the fact that I’ve gotten lighter,” Edwards said. “I have a chance to contribute and show that I can get after the quarterback.”
The Raiders would like him to this season. He’s a quality run stopper expected to contribute right away, namely at end in the base defense and tackle in sub packages. Creating pressure on the quarterback would be a real bonus. He has room to grow and develop in that area, but his raw materials are there to be mined.
“Edwards is just young and he’s doing some fantastic things,” defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said. “The things we saw on the film when we scouted him, he’s a lot twitchier, he’s fast, he moves pretty good. So we’re very, very, very, happy with his development. And he’s only getting better.”
He’s taking proper steps down a long road, and he’ll have to prove himself at stages along the way. Gameday is what matters most, and film doesn’t lie. He wants to watch it with no regrets, knowing he did everything he could to be at his best.
“I’m ready,” Edwards said, “to meet the standards I have for myself.”