Player: T.J. Edwards, ILB, Wisconsin
Game: Big Ten Championship Game vs. Ohio State (#8), 7 PM CT
What They’re Saying
Here is a breakdown of Edwards’ Butkus Award-worthy season from the official site of Badgers football:
Wisconsin’s first Butkus Award finalist, Edwards has been a constant for the Badgers’ outstanding defense once again this season. The Lake Villa, Illinois, native ranks second on the team with 60 total tackles and has recorded 8.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks.
Edwards’ four interceptions – including one returned 54 yards for a touchdown – are the most by a linebacker in the FBS this season.
His efforts have been key to a unit that ranks No. 2 nationally in scoring defense (13.1 points per game), total defense (246.4 yards per game) and pass efficiency defense (94.8) and stands No. 1 in rushing defense (79.4 ypg).
From Chris Trapasso at CBS, projecting Edwards to the Seahawks with the 20th pick:
Bobby Wagner has challenged Luke Kuechly as the game’s best off-ball linebacker, and he has made a compelling case to earn that title this season. To give him a young running mate, the Seahawks select Edwards, a smart, polished inside linebacker who, like Wagner, has no problem sinking into coverage to make plays.
What I Think
When I watch T.J. Edwards play middle linebacker for the Badgers, I see a ten-year starter in the pros. I see a defensive captain and signal caller and leader. But if teams pass on him because he’s not playing a sexy position, they are nuts. Think about how much better your defense would be with Luke Keuchly or Bobby Wagner or Lance Briggs in the middle of it. Think about how bad the Bears have been with Danny Trevathan off the field. That’s what this kid’s upside could be.
Why Watch This Week
Watching Ohio State v. Michigan, I was shocked at Jim Harbaugh’s inability to contain J.T. Barrett in the run game. I can’t imagine Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst will make the same mistake and he’ll have the advantage of utilizing the dynamic, versatile Edwards as something of a spy on Barrett. This could be the Lake Villa, Illinois native’s coming out party.