The 2020 NFL Draft is a very good one for wide receivers. We should expect the first three rounds to be dominated by the position and a potentially historic number of receivers drafted.
That also creates the conditions for good players to, potentially, slip through the cracks and last far longer than they otherwise might.
South Carolina receiver Bryan Edwards might be a prime candidate for such a steal. Edwards might have fallen victim to “out of sight, out of mind” after suffering through poor quarterback play in college and a pair of late-season injuries which limited his ability to perform for NFL talent evaluators. If so, that could be good news for the New York Giants, who could use a big, athletic receiver to play the “X” in their offense.
Prospect: Bryan Edwards (WR, South Carolina)
Games Watched: vs. Alabama (2019), vs. Missouri (2019), vs. Georgia (2019), vs. Appalachian State (2019)
Red Flags: Sprained knee (2019), fractured foot (2020)
Games Played: 48
Yards (YPC): 3,045 (13.0 yards per catch)
Touchdowns: 22 touchdowns
Games Played: 10
Yards (YPC): 816 (11.5 yards per catch)
Touchdowns: 6 touchdowns
Best: Size, physicality, long speed, competitive toughness, run after catch
Projection: An outside receiver with starting upside and scheme versatility.
South Carolina wide receiver Bryan Edwards has a good blend of size and athleticism for the position at the NFL level. Edwards has a long frame with a good catch radius and good thickness in his upper and lower body. He lined up in multiple alignments in South Carolina’s offense, playing on the line of scrimmage as an X receiver, as a Flanker, and as a “big slot”. Edwards has a good release off the line of scrimmage, wasting little motion and pressing his route into defenders well on vertical routes. Edwards does a good job of selling double moves and is able to use them to get separation from defenders in man coverage. He also shows very good play strength and competitive toughness, playing through contact to get separation against tight coverage. His size, long speed, ability to track the ball in the air, and willingness to extend and maximize his catch radius make him a capable deep threat.
Edwards is a very good runner after the catch. He shows good vision, burst, play strength, and toughness as a ball carrier. Edwards sees the defense well, running with good tempo to take advantage of running lanes, as well as showing a good burst to change defensive angles. He doesn’t shy away from contact, frequently finishing runs behind his shoulder pads and pushing for extra yardage. Edwards was given running opportunities on shallow crossing routes, screen plays, and on jet motion.
Edwards was also used as a blocker for screen plays and on the perimeter for South Carolina’s running game. He showed good willingness, technique, play strength, and competitive toughness. Samuel also has upside as a punt returner, averaging 11.6 yards per return on 19 returns for South Carolina.
As a larger receiver, Edwards does not have great quickness in and out of his breaks. He can round off sharper breaking routes, letting quicker defensive backs stay with him. He also shows inconsistent hands as a pass catcher. He occasionally frames passes poorly and seems to have some lapses in concentration, both of which can lead to drops.
Edwards had his 2019 season cut short by a knee sprain and suffered a fractured foot while training days before the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. Medical reports will be important to his draft stock.
Overall Grade: 6.2i - Has the traits to become a (potentially good) NFL starter but could also be in need of development. Currently injured (i) and medicals will need to be evaluated.
Bryan Edwards is a bit of a difficult projection to the NFL. He has the athletic traits and experience necessary to be a starting wide receiver in the NFL.
However, he suffered through inconsistent and generally poor quarterback play throughout his college career. That inconsistency and poor play made it difficult for Edwards to produce consistently. He was frequently seen extending for off-target passes or being lead out of bounds by his quarterback. NFL teams could look to former Gamecock and current San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel for a comparison. Samuel played with Edwards in the same offense for three years and the two were similarly productive.
Teams will want to thoroughly investigate Edwards’ health after having his season cut short by a knee sprain and suffering a broken foot days before the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine.
Edwards has the athletic traits to blossom into a starting wide receiver at the NFL level with better, more consistent quarterback play. His ability to lengthen his stride and stretch the field, as well as sell and separate on double moves, will appeal to vertical offenses while his ability to create with the ball in his hands should appeal to more quick-strike passing games. Likewise, his blocking ability should appeal to any team which routinely uses receivers as blockers on the perimeter.
That being said, teams will have to decide for themselves whether his inconsistencies are a result of inconsistent quarterback play or if they are a part of the player.