The Forgotten Man
Many have called the 2020 NFL Draft WR class one of the greatest classes of all time. There is no doubt that this year's field is swimming with franchise altering wide receiver talent. Everybody knows about Jerry Jeudy and his beautiful route running ability. We’ve all heard about Henry Ruggs and his blazing speed. Don’t forget CeeDee Lamb and his explosive big play abilities. Believe me, I get the hype on all three. These guys are absolute studs, set apart from the rest. The talent doesn’t end after these three are off the board however. Allow me to introduce you the low key playmaker nobody seems to be talking about, Bryan Edwards.
Let’s begin by talking about Deebo Samuel. Deebo was Bryan Edwards teammate for 3 years at South Carolina. During those three years Deebo was electric, and you would think that he would have overshadowed the other receivers on the team. Not Edwards. Let’s dig into these stats.
13.27 YPR, 59 REC, 783 YDS, 1TD
13.4 YPR, 44 REC, 590YDS, 4TD
If you guessed Deebo was player 1 and Edwards was player 2, you guessed correctly. What you may not have guessed is this was Edwards 2016 true freshman season at 17 years old! While Deebo outpaced him, Edwards still put up a great statline in the best conference in the country.
Unfortunately in 2017 Deebo suffered an injury only 3 games into the season and wouldn’t suit up again. Edwards went on to rack up 12.4 YPR, 64 REC, 793 YDS AND 5TDS, without Deebo on the field. Without Deebo he posted numbers better than his counterpart had put up the season prior.
In 2018 Deebo made his highly anticipated return, and the Gamecocks got to trot out one of the best wide receiver tandems in the country. The young wideouts didn’t disappoint There final stats of 2018:
15.4 YPR, 55 REC, 846 YDS, 7 TDS, 9.0 Y/TGT, 36 1st downs
14.23 YPR, 62 REC, 882 YDS, 11 TDS, 8.82 Y/TGT, 37 1st downs
This time player 1 is Edwards and player 2 is Deebo. As you can see they were neck in neck in overall performance. Deebo seemed to have no problem getting adjusted to the speed of the NFL and was dynamic down the stretch for the 49ers, all the way to and including the Super Bowl. While Deebo was lighting up NFL defenses Edwards spent his senior year pulling out a line of
11.5 YPR, 71 REC, 816 YDS, 6 TDS
This was while he played two fewer games than his Junior year. Deebo accounted for half of the Gamecocks overall receiving TDs and left as the schools all time reception and yardage leader and third all time in TD’s, ahead of Deebo, but trailing Sydney Rice and Alshon Jeffrey. All this while catching passes from college juggernauts Jake Bentley and Ryan Hilinski. Excuse the hyperbole, the man played with guys who will never sniff the next level. But imagine if he were catching passes from Burrow, Tua, or Trevor Lawrence.
I’ve always known Edwards was a playmaker but never grasped the magnitude until I started watching the film. He checks all the boxes. He is a big receiver at 6’3, 220 lbs. He is fast and strong and has excellent hands. His double move and head fake absolutely drop opposing defenders. He is a good route runner who is not afraid to go over the middle and make a big play, and while he is at his best in the slot and manning the middle of the field, he can beat you in many other ways. Once Edwards has the ball in his hands watch out! He can run past you, through you, over you and will straight teabag you on his way to the endzone.
He is an absolute bully when the ball is in the air and will win the 50/50 jump passes the vast majority of the time. He is a solid playmaker who is reliable and will gain the trust of his qb because of how dependable he is. I believe he can be a reception machine if the teams will feed him the rock. Injuries have snuck in late and kept him from competing in the senior bowl and combine, which will cause him to fall in the draft but whoever is lucky enough to have him fall in their lap will be receiving one hell of a player. He is currently my #5 rookie receiver, and I feel that might even be too low. Here’s hoping he falls to my Birds. Fly Eagles Fly.
Thanks for reading. Don’t forget about Edwards in your Dynasty drafts. He could be a steal down the road.