Las Vegas Raiders rookie WR Bryan Edwards could be one of the steals of the draft and his college coach Will Muschamp talked up his best qualities
In a loaded rookie receiver class, the Las Vegas Raiders selected two talented youngsters in the first three rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft. Henry Ruggs III went 12th overall due to his tremendous upside and athleticism and Bryan Edwards went 81st overall due to his physicality and historical production.
The two receivers are also diametric in what they bring to the table as Ruggs uses his 4.2 speed to run past defenders, Edwards uses his 6’3″ 215lb frame to run through them. After four great years at South Carolina that saw him leave as the leading receiver in school history, Edwards may have gone higher than 81st overall were it not for a season ending foot injury that kept him from participating at the NFL combine.
As Will Muschamp points out, as quoted by NBCSports.com, Edwards statistically surpassed the greatest receivers to play at South Carolina. Muschamp said, “He’s leaving South Carolina as statistically the best receiver to ever play here. There’s been some great ones — Sterling Sharpe, Alshon Jeffrey — that have played here at South Carolina”.
Muschamp neglects to mention several others that Edwards surpassed such as Sidney Rice and Deebo Samuel who have had productive NFL careers. Edwards sits atop the charts at South Carolina in receptions, receiving yards, and is just one behind Rice and Jeffrey in receiving touchdowns.
He was well on his way to a 1,000 yard season in 2019 and creating even more distance between him and the rest of the pack before the foot injury in Week 10 of the college season.
When discussing Edwards’ qualities on the field, Muschamp pointed out his ability to make contested catches but also mentioned his speed that we were unable to see at the combine. Muschamp said in the same interview:
Very intelligent, can play multiple positions. Got a huge catch radius and he’s got really good vertical speed down the field. He’s also going to bring a lot to the organization as far as special teams is concerned as well.
He’s a big, physical guy. He’s a difficult matchup on smaller corners and certainly inside on safeties. He’s a mismatch type of guy. 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.”
Source: NBC Sports
If the Raiders offense takes a leap in 2020 it will be due to the impact made by the pair of stud rookie WRs. Both Ruggs and Edwards will benefit from the attention defenses will have to afford to Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller and from playing with a QB in Derek Carr that knows how to spread the ball around to multiple targets.
The challenge for these young guys will be to get up to speed with Gruden’s complex offense in a unique offseason that consists of more Zoom meetings than mini-camps but if anyone can do it, it’s a pair of mature players that will be anxious to prove their worth in Silver and Black.