Kentucky Wildcats safety Mike Edwards has been drafted by the Buccaneers in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, No. 99 overall.
The former three-star recruit out of Cincinnati, Ohio probably could have been selected in 2018 NFL Draft, but he opted to return to Kentucky for his senior season. He used that opportunity to show his versatility and vast array of skills that will easily translate to the next level.
The 6-8, 200-pound safety finished with 82 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss (TFL), two interceptions, six pass break-ups (PBUs), and a touchdown in his final season in Lexington. Over the course of his career, Edwards compiled 317 tackles, 21 TFL, 1.5 sacks, 10 interceptions, 23 PBUs, and two defensive touchdowns.
Edwards never missed a game in his four-year career at Kentucky, playing in 51 games with 44 consecutive starts. He was just the 19th player in school history with 300 or more tackles and ranks second in UK history in tackles among defensive backs, behind only Darryl Bishop (348). He was also a three-time All-SEC member (2016, 2017, 2018).
In 2018, Edwards’ 17 run stops led all SEC draft-eligible safeties. A broken thumb kept him from participating in the NFL Combine, but when he got his shot at Kentucky’s Pro Day, Edwards really helped his draft stock with a 4.5 40-yard dash and a 37-inch vertical jump.
The Chicago Bears came up consistently as a team to watch for Edwards. However, the Miami Dolphins were also really intrigued. Kentucky’s “Honey Badger” has been viewed as a safe pick considering he checks every box for NFL teams.
Ultimately, a defensive back-needy Bucs team came calling, and Edwards has a great shot at making an impact in Tampa as a rookie.
I think he went a little low, especially for his production in the SEC and his unique ability to stop the run, but I couldn’t be happier for him.
Edwards came back to school with a chance to showcase his talent for his future team. And he did just that.