It's Time to Recognize Bryan Edwards in this WR Class

Photo: © Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

In a class full of talented pass catchers and one who some have described as being the best since the 2014 crop, there are all different types, shapes, and sizes. While the likes of Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Henry Ruggs III garner most of the attention, there's another SEC wideout that is piecing together a respectable season.

South Carolina wide receiver Bryan Edwards has always show intriguing flashes of what he potentially could be, but the glimpses were widespread and happened far apart. Despite battling the quarterback carousel under-center for the Gamecocks, he had steadily put together solid outings.

The son of two retired members of the military, Edwards is known for his structured and disciplined lifestyle. A product of Conway High School (South Carolina), he finished his career with 188 receptions for 2,562 yards and 32 touchdowns.

A top-5 ranked player in the state, his senior season got off to a red-hot start with 53 receptions for 969 yards and nine touchdowns, but he would suffer a non-contact injury (Oct. 2015) during the ninth game of the season. Listed as a torn cartilage in his right knee, it would ultimately end his senior season.

Fighting through the adversity together, South Carolina remained by his side through it all and still honored his commitment and scholarship. As an early enrollee (Jan. 2016), Edwards was able to get ahead of the curve, which led to him starting all 12 games as a true freshman - becoming only the sixth true freshman in program history to begin the season in the starting lineup.

Finishing his opening year with 44 receptions for 590 yards, and a tie for the team-lead with four touchdowns. His catch total was the second best, only behind Alshon Jeffery (46 receptions - 2009). As a sophomore, he concluded his second season with a team-leading 64 catches for 793 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Much of the same came during his junior year where he hauled 55 receptions for 846 yards, and seven touchdowns.

This season, he's remained consistent and up to 40 catches for 504 yards and four touchdowns. Playing with three different quarterbacks already this season, his numbers aren't eye-popping, but the splash plays that he has displayed will definitely catch the eye of scouts and evaluators.

Where He Wins (+)

Edwards has an intriguing and sculpted frame. His play matches his body type as he's shown to fight for everything. His power and body strength are two huge assets and they both are reliable traits to his game overall.

Ultra competitive at the catch point and has moments of where he refuses to be denied of the ball. Back shoulder fades and contested vertical patterns is where his explosive plays have been generated. Edwards iis naturally able to consume and shun the body of competitors during those types of routes.

The Gamecocks target has zero belief with operating from basement levels. He wants to touch the ceiling and attack the ball only in those areas. He has firm belief in his ability to snatch the ball out of the air no matter the circumstances or amount of defenders that are in the pathway between him and the ball. Outstanding leaping ability and routinely is able to reach the top floor or levels that defenders couldn’t dream of reaching. 

Edwards turns into a running back after the catch and he has the belief that he can get to the end zone on every carry. There's no sense of giving in and he isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder into tacklers in order to gain extra yardage. He is a load to bring down and tacklers struggle with getting him down to the ground because of the mindset that he runs with combined with the force generated behind his frame. 

Where He Must Improve (-)

Most of his successful routes have come when stretching the field vertically, but when asked to operate in the shorter domains, his lack of route crispness becomes apparent. Hips are plenty flexible, but there are some struggles to sink his hips and redirect in certain directions. Edwards has a tendency to drift on patterns and can allow avenues of easy access to defenders for pass deflection opportunities that wouldn’t have been possible with sharper cuts and more precision.

Edwards can turn into a bit of a madman during route stems, at the catch point, and once the ball is in his possession. He runs in all phases with plenty of purpose, but bottling up the chaos is an area that needs to be refined.

He's shown to be unafraid to throw his body around, but some situations are avoidable. His eyes can become a bit wide with excitement when the ball is in the air. Mistimed jumps and body catches are too frequent.

Battling back pressure with pressure is still an ongoing battle for Edwards and when defensive backs hurry to the line to challenge him, he’s inconsistent with working releases in order to garner free releases.

Edwards has the necessary strength in order to fight through hand jab attempts, but elects to fight through it with only strength and little technique. Overpowering matchups won’t always work, which is why bigger cornerbacks who can match his strength have usually caused issues for him.