The New Orleans Saints filled a big need at wide receiver this offseason by signing productive veteran Emmanuel Sanders to a two-year contract. Sanders will join record setting wideout Michael Thomas to give the Saints a solid 1-2 punch at the position that they have lacked over the last two seasons.
Most expect the Saints to select another receiver in this week’s draft to add to their stable of weapons for quarterback Drew Brees. They may use their 1st round pick, 24th overall, to do this or take advantage of the depth of talent at the position in this year’s draft with a later pick. New Orleans Head Coach Sean Payton has always preferred bigger receivers, and today’s draft profile looks at one of the more physical wideouts available in this year’s class.
Bryan Edwards, WR (South Carolina) 6’3” 212-Lbs.
Edwards enrolled early out of high school in Conway, SC to South Carolina University. He contributed immediately as a true freshman, catching 44 passes for 590 yards and 4 touchdowns, earning a spot on the All-Freshman team. His production increased as a sophomore, pulling in 64 receptions for 793 yards and five scores. He caught fewer passes (55) for the Gamecocks as a junior in 2018, but his 846 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns were team bests. Despite missing two games last season with a knee injury, Edwards earned 2nd team All-SEC honors with 71 receptions for 816 yards and six scores. Edwards finished a productive career with the Gamecocks with 234 catches for 3,045 yards and 22 touchdowns. He suffered a foot injury while training for the NFL Scouting Combine however and could not take part in any workouts.
NFL.com comparison (via Lance Zierlein) = David Terrell (retired)
Edwards struggled with easy drops throughout his career at South Carolina, more a result of lapses in concentration than skill. He must develop a quicker release off the line of scrimmage against press coverage and must sharpen his route running skills. Edwards isn’t an elusive runner in the open field, though he rarely goes down at first contact. He must learn to use his body better to shield defenders in the red zone and tight quarters.
Edwards can threaten a defense on all three levels. He tracks the deep ball well and has good acceleration and a long stride to get open deep despite a lack of straight-line speed. He sells the vertical threat well, enabling him to create a cushion against defensive backs. He battles defenders on contested throws and has a wide catch radius. Edwards is skilled on quick slants and works the middle of the field well, fighting for extra yardage after the catch. His large frame gives him an advantage over smaller defensive backs, which he couples with sneaky-fast speed.
Bryan Edwards was consistently productive against the top defensive backs of the SEC. Not the prettiest route runner at this stage, he battles defenders and has the natural ability to improve and the measurables to give defensive backs fits. Edwards is a Day 2 prospect with the upside to become a number two wideout quickly.