The New Orleans Saints have a long history of finding valuable undrafted free agents, and they are hoping 2014 is no different. Today we focus on one of these prospects, linebacker Kasim Edebali from Boston College.
If I could sum up Edebali in one word, it would be effort. The 6’2”, 253-pound linebacker has only been playing football in American leagues for five years, but his numbers at Boston College improved each season.
Edebali was born in Germany and learned the basics of the game there. Upon moving to the United States, he played two years at Kimball Union Academy, eventually catching the eye of the Boston College coaching staff as a tight end and defensive end.
Redshirted his first year with the Eagles, Edebali became part of the defensive rotation his second year, and developed into one of the best defenders in the ACC after that. He isn’t a gifted athlete, but scouts love his motor and energy.
2013 was a breakthrough year for Edebali. Not only was he voted team captain, but he also set career highs in almost every stat category, finishing the season with 67 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. Those numbers were good enough to land Edebali on the second team all-ACC.
Nov 30, 2013; Syracuse, NY, USA; Boston College Eagles defensive end Kasim Edebali (91) wrestles Syracuse Orange quarterback Terrel Hunt (10) for the ball after he blocked a pass attempt during the fourth quarter of a game at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse won the game 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
While his numbers have been great, scouts have been critical of his athleticism. At the combine, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.79 seconds, and many people in the league think he is a little undersized.
Despite his lack of size and speed, the production is there. Outside of his all-ACC honors, Edebali impressed scouts at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in January, leading many to believe he would get drafted earlier this month. Some scouts had him in the 5th-6th round range.
Personally, Edebali is one of my favorite undrafted free agents the Saints brought in. He has consistently improved on the field despite his lack of raw athleticism, and is just a pure gamer. New Orleans signed plenty of pass rushers after the draft, but none have the motor and drive of Edebali.
He will definitely face tough competition in his quest to make the Saints roster. But, as his NFL scout Rob Rang notes, “the four-year starter is better than the sum of his parts…and could surprise at LEO defensive end or perhaps as an outside linebacker in a traditional 3-4 scheme”.
Follow me on twitter at @daugulis