It is rare when you get the opportunity to dialogue with such a smart, humble, and confident young man. AJ Edds (LB, Iowa) is just that type of man and football player. Fresh off of an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl (Interception and fumble recovery), AJ was kind enough to answer a few of our questions.
In Norm Parker’s Iowa defense, you rarely leave the field in obvious passing situations where most teams would use a sub-package. How has that helped you in getting ready for covering RB’s, TE’s, and WR’s in the NFL?
Just playing for Norm Parker has been a great experience. Coach Parker does a great job putting his players in position to make plays which usually translates to good defense. By staying on the field during passing situations I think it showed my ability to cover in the open field and take away routes that many TE’s would be able to convert. By staying on the field I was also able to better understand the ways offenses try to manipulate linebackers and defensive backs with their route combinations. By understanding this it has helped to increase my overall football IQ, especially in the passing game.
You had a couple of stumbles during practice at the Senior Bowl, and some analysts questioned your ability to stay with TEs and WRs in coverage. What is your response to this? (Note: AJ backed up his claims with an INT during the game)
Anyone that questions my ability to cover TE’s and RB’s should look at my career at Iowa. I was routinely asked to play over slot receivers in space in our defensive scheme. I did a fairly good job with this and often took away the route that the QB was looking to hit. By being able to neutralize receivers in the slot, it has better helped me in my coverage of TE’s and RB’s. I would challenge anyone questioning my coverage ability to look at my career at Iowa and watch my responsibilites in the passing game.
Another quirk with the Hawkeye defense is that you rarely blitz, however, you seemed to get pressure when called upon. How confident do you feel in getting to the QB? What is your best rush move?
In our defenseive scheme the linebackers are rarely asked to apply pressure via blitz. Because of this I would acknowledge that rushing the passer is likely one of my biggest areas for improvement. That said, when asked to come on a blitz I did a pretty good job of hurrying the QB or coming up with the sack. Pass rushing is nothing more then desire and a player can excel in this area through determination and attitude.
How much more weight can you add to your frame without losing speed? I know Chris Doyle does an amazing job with the Iowa Strength and Conditioning program, does he have you at your peak?
I think I could effectively add another 9-12 lbs without losing a step. Simply because of the nature of my position at Iowa, I did not want to weigh too much that I would not be able to keep up with smaller, quicker receivers in space. Coach Doyle does a phenomenal job with our S&C at Iowa and he did a great job getting me to my optimal playing weight. I actually was as heavy as 251 in pre-season camp this past season (due to battling everyday with TE Tony Moeaki on the L.O.S.) but dropped a few pounds before the start of the season.
With the Patriots being a 3-4 team, what position(s) do you think you could play for us? Are you up to shedding guards all day inside or do you feel more comfortable on the edge?
In the Patriots 3-4 scheme I would envision myself more as an inside LB getting off blocks and getting to the ball. I likely do not have the frame to weigh 270-285 and still be effective if asked to come off the edge. And as said above, rushing the passer is probably not one of my strong points at this point. Although not very often, I did play in the box occasionally at Iowa and it would not be completely new to me.
What can you say about your fellow Hawkeye LB’er Pat Angerer? What would NFL teams be getting?
Pat Angerer is an animal that loves the game. He is a blue-collar type of player that looks for the physicality required to be an effective linebacker. Pat battles every play and never turns down a chance to deliver a blow. Pat would be a great addition to any team due to his work ethic and desire for the game.
Thanks for your time AJ, and thanks to Jack and Diana at JBS for making this happen.
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