Position Preview: Defensive End
Key Players lost: Dan Hicks
Biggest question entering 2014: Who will start opposite Edwards Jr.?
Mario Edwards Jr. is the unquestioned leader of the defensive end unit for Florida State. The former 5-star recruit had a breakout season in 2013 and he is poised to become a star in 2014. Edwards Jr. will start at right end, but it remains to be seen who will serve as his bookend from the left side. Eddie Goldman started at left defensive end last season. He may return to the spot next season, but he will likely move inside to tackle as Timmy Jernigan’s replacement.
Returning starter Mario Edwards Jr., who is a dominant force on the right side, has the potential to become one of the top defensive ends in the country next season. He has the size and strength to set the edge, which is one of his main duties in Florida State’s scheme. He also has the speed and athleticism to disrupt plays as a pass rusher. Last season Goldman stared on the left side. He was used primarily to set the edge limiting his visible impact, but he was a key member of the defense non-the-less. If the coaches do decide to move Goldman inside Florida State has talented options to replace him on the left side.
DeMarcus Walker and Chris Casher look to be the favorites, but they are different style players than Goldman. Whereas Edwards Jr. and Goldman are big, physical players who excel at setting the edge, Walker and Casher are both pass rush specialist. Coaches will have to decide whether they want to utilize Walker and Casher’s ability to be disruptive in the backfield or find another player like Goldman to set the edge.
Options in the Goldman mold include Desmond Hollin and Derrick Mitchell Jr. They are both currently listed as defensive tackles, but Florida State has more talented options at the position giving Hollin and Mitchell Jr. the freedom to move outside.
By: Brandon O’Connor