In rookie drafts, you will more often than not have to decide on which Wide Receiver to take in the 2nd Round. You will likely have a combination of Denzel Mims, Michael Pittman, Tee Higgins, Brandon Aiyuk, Laviska Shenault, and Bryan Edwards at your disposal. In this series I will be walking through what I saw on film and my opinion on each WR with an ADP in the 2nd round of rookie drafts. In my first article, I went over Michael Pittman. Today I cover Las Vegas Raiders Wide Receiver, Bryan Edwards.
He was a four year starter at South Carolina where he first broke out at the age of 17! He was productive all four years, producing alongside Deebo Samuel for the first three years, and in his final year he was on pace for 92 receptions 1060 yards and 8 touchdowns before his injury in week 10. His senior year he lacked talent around him, including his Quarterbacks, but he was still able to become the all-time leader in receptions and yards at South Carolina.
As I said, Edwards was by far the best player on his team last season. Because of this, he was given a lot of quick plays like slants or screens and forced to create his own offense. He does not have game-breaking speed, but he shows he has the explosiveness to make plays after the catch.
A weakness I have seen mentioned by a few analysts is that Edwards does not run precise routes. While I agree he needs to improve his route running, he showed the ability to sell his routes well by making his next cut only after he waited for the defender to take the bait of his first cut. I call this attribute "patient route running," and he proved his ability to execute.
Edwards is also a MAN. With his 6'3, 212 pound frame, he is not going to beat many guys with a juke, but he rarely goes down on first contact, which is not something you see with a lot of receivers. He was used out the backfield at times, running more like an RB than a WR.
Bryan Edwards has arrogant hands, as Jetpack Galileo likes to call it. He struggled at times with concentration drops, showing inconsistency, but when he was focused, my goodness he can catch. He has one of the best catches I have ever seen in college football, similar to the infamous OBJ catch.
I noticed a few other things on film with Edwards, with the first being that he does well on contested catches, using his body to position himself to go up and get the ball. His college coach Will Muschamp said, "Because of his physicality, his length, his athleticism, it's not a 50-50 ball with Bryan Edwards. It's more of an 80-20 when he's going up to get the football."
He also is willing to block, which as I mentioned in the Pittman article, it is an important skill for getting a lot of snaps to stay on the field, especially with that being of extra importance for rookies earning playing time. Lastly, I noticed he did not have many deep ball catches. I am not saying he doesn't have the ability but for the Raiders, he won't need to be that guy.
I genuinely believe that Edwards would have gone much higher in the draft had he been able to finish his senior season and participate in the combine. With that being said, as we have seen with Gruden and the Raiders: they go get their guy. They took Ruggs in the mid-first round when many had him as the third-best Wide Receiver in the class. They went and got Arnette in the late-first round, someone who almost everyone had as a second-round pick. And in the third, they took Edwards, their guy. Yes, he was the third receiver they took in the class but I believe that the Raiders were planning on taking him all along.
Derek Carr likes to throw slants and other short throws, and that is what Edwards excels at. We have seen Derek Carr support his top targets in Fantasy. Amari Cooper was inconsistent but still a top 24 option with Carr. Last season Darren Waller was a top 5 TE out of nowhere, being Carr's top option. We have seen him support Jared Cook and Michael Crabtree to be decent options in fantasy as well.
Now for this season, he will have a plethora of weapons, including Edwards, Ruggs, Waller, Josh Jacobs, Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow, and Lynn Bowden. I believe this caps Edwards' ceiling next season, but at the same time, it will allow him to settle in better to the NFL, as the defense will have to worry about more than just him. He will likely be a day one starter, giving him a good opportunity to produce his rookie year.
My current NFL comparison for Edwards is Mohammed Sanu. They are similarly sized with Sanu being 6'2 and 210 pounds and do well in the short and intermediate areas. Sanu also has great hands, which Edwards shows he has when focused. With Edwards being the all-time receptions leader at South Carolina, Sanu similarly left Rutgers as the all-time leader in receptions in the Big East.
I see Edwards as having a higher ceiling than Sanu, with Sanu never being a truly reliable fantasy option, though he is better for his NFL team than for fantasy owners. I do see the likely scenario that Edwards will be the second or third target on his team with a consistent floor for catches but being touchdown-dependent to have big games. He can have those big games as he, along with Waller, will likely get the redzone targets. In college, he showed he can succeed as the number two receiver with Deebo Samuel and also as the alpha in his senior year. The fact that he does not need to be the alpha to produce and succeed is helpful for his outlook in the NFL and in fantasy.
The bottom line is that Edwards is tough, versatile, and has great hands. He struggled with concentration drops and does not do as well against big corners. He is a Wide Receiver who can produce from day one with the opportunity he is being given. I believe him and Ruggs can be relevant fantasy options, and if you want more info on Ruggs check out this podcast from Fantasy Blitz featuring our very own Jetpack Galileo.
His ceiling is not as high as guys at the top of the rookie rankings like Lamb, Jeudy, Jefferson, and even Ruggs, but I still love his value in the second round, thanks to this deep class. I would put him right behind Pittman and Mims, and nearly even with Shenault, Higgins, and Aiyuk. Because his price is the lowest of all these guys with him falling to the late second, he is one I have the most shares of.
I will be continuing this series over the next couple of months and would love to hear your comments! Tweet me any responses, questions, or advice on how to improve @ZtwiceFF. Thanks!
And if you want to watch any film on Edwards or anyone in this rookie class or the next, you should definitely check out the FF Astronauts film room!