(CBS Denver)- The 2019 NFL Draft is stacked with defensive line prospects. As the game continues to evolve into more of a pass-first mindset, the guys in the trenches on the defensive side of the ball have become more important than ever. Of particular value are players who can collapse the pocket in the middle of the line, forcing the quarterback to get rid of the ball more quickly than they might like.
Former Colorado Buffaloes defensive tackle Javier Edwards is hoping to do just that for any team that calls his name next weekend. Edwards, a two-year contributor for the Buffs, is working on his pass-rushing moves to prepare for the NFL ahead of next Thursday’s draft. He took some time out of his training schedule to speak with CBS Local about his journey to this point and the quarterbacks he really wants to get a hit on at the NFL level.
Take me all the way back, how did you get started playing football?
I first started playing football when I was about four or five years old. I was always a bigger kid. I was born two or three weeks early and weighed 10 pounds, so I have always been big. But, growing up, I always hung around with the skill guys. That is where my athleticism comes from. I never hung around with offensive or defensive linemen.
My cousin and I were playing football in the front yard one day, and the adults saw how aggressive I was, and they were just like, ‘We have to put him in football. He’s too big, we’re not going to let him be a waste of talent.’ And from there, things just took off.
Being big lends itself well to football, of course, but was there anything about the game that really drew you to it over other sports?
My brother played football and basketball growing up, but he was really focused on basketball. I wanted to follow in those footsteps. But, what 6’2″ 300-plus pound centers do you see playing basketball? Not many. So, you have to be realistic with yourself and realize what your strengths are. I was a little too aggressive for basketball, so I put my talents towards football.
You mention your older brother, Alonzo, what was the competition like between you two growing up? I know little brothers always love to get that first win over their big brothers. When did that time come for you?
Growing up, my brother was so much older than me that the competition didn’t really start to even out until I was a little older. It really happened first in the weight room. I used to lift with him a lot, and I remember there was a time when he was at North Texas and I was in middle school that I threw up 225 pounds 10 or 15 times, that was the first time I really got him in competition. Then, a little later on, when he was trying out to play tight end for the Dolphins, he kept saying he could block me. We went over to the park and, he couldn’t block me.
In addition to having your older brother as a role model, you’ve mentioned in other interviews how big of an influence your mom has had in your life. What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned from her?
I have learned so much from her, but the first thing she taught me was be a good person. It’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice. That is the biggest thing she taught me, telling me to respect people along the way.
But, honestly, she is the one that taught me the game of football. She was telling me, ‘I want you to go in there and knock somebody’s head off.’ She was crazy. Not just your average woman by any means. Always pushing me to go out on the field and be aggressive and that’s really where my style of play started.
Now, after high school you end up going to junior college before making your way to Colorado. What was the biggest thing you learned about yourself in the process of transitioning to the college level?
One thing I learned about myself is that I had to realize I couldn’t get by on just talent and physical ability alone. You have to study film, know the playbook like the back of your hand and work harder than everybody else, because now I’m getting to a level where everybody is big, strong and fast. What are you going to do to separate yourself? That is the biggest thing that helped me get to where I am right now.
Why was Colorado the right fit after going to Blinn College?
Honestly, I was going to go to Florida or Arkansas. But, in order to go to those schools, the SEC was requiring me to take an extra class to go. I was already paying $1,000 out of my pocket to take the extra math class I needed to graduate. And I just couldn’t afford that extra class.
Colorado told me that I was qualified to go there and be on campus in the spring. With Florida, I would have had to wait until the summer and I couldn’t afford to wait that long. I was 390 pounds at the time and I couldn’t afford to wait that long to get into a college conditioning program.
So, I took a visit to Colorado, fell in love with the place. Boulder is a very beautiful city and now I’m a Buff for life.
You mention your weight, and that’s something you have worked on in your time at Colorado, but it’s not always the easiest thing to do. What was that process like for you as you developed your body to where you are now?
It was very tough. Definitely hard to say no to those double cheeseburgers at McDonald’s (laughing). But, the coaching staff and strength and conditioning coaches got me to realize that losing the weight was bigger than just about playing football. Life after football, if I play around 390 in the NFL, I will likely end up getting to 425-430 and that isn’t good long-term. So, dropping that weight is really saving my life, because I want to be able to get older and have a life with my kids. So, it was bigger than football.
On top of that, I was already athletic at 380 pounds, so my coaches told me to just imagine what I could do at 325. I recognized that they were right and that I needed to get this weight off. So, that’s what I did.
You have gotten your weight to where you want it and had two solid seasons at Colorado. As you prepare now for the draft, what is the biggest thing you’re working on?
The biggest thing I’m working on is pass rushing. It’s becoming more of a passing game now, and the quickest way to the quarterback is up the middle. As a nose tackle, if I can pass rush out of the 0 or 3 technique, then that’s going to be huge for my career.
Is there a guy you have really been studying in that respect?
I would say Marcell Dareus because he is a big guy, about 330 and 6’2″ to 6’3″, and we have a similar build. He’s a guy that can play 0 through 5 technique. I have seen him line up a 3 technique and 5 technique and still be able to get sacks. He’s versatile like me and can line up wherever the coaching staff is asking him to.
The draft process can be surreal for guys, as they prepare for a moment they have been dreaming of since they were kids. What has been the coolest part of the process to you so far?
The coolest part is knowing that you have this opportunity. As kids, where I’m from, that is only a dream. You dream to make it out of high school. To know that I can play at the Power 5 level and now have the opportunity to play in the NFL? It’s crazy man.
For any NFL fans wondering what you bring to their team, what would you say that is?
I’m going to bring the energy. I’m going to bring a great personality to the team. And I’m going to bring aggression and dominance to the team, to let everybody know that we’re not the ones to be played with.
Finally, you want to get better as a pass rusher. At the NFL level, who is the quarterback you most want to get a hit on?
I have to get Brady. I want to get Brady bad. Either him or Cam Newton. I’d like to hit him and talk trash to him. I’m a guy that likes to talk trash, so I’d like to get Cam too.