They say that the younger a player's age when he breaks out, the more likely he is to be a great pro. That's good news for Bryan Edwards, who played for his high school's varsity team when he was 13 years old and hasn't stopped playing a meaningful role for his team since. After putting up over 2,500 yards and 32 touchdowns in 41 games for Conway High School in South Carolina, Edwards latched on to South Carolina with Will Muschamp as coach (Muschamp started recruiting Edwards when he was 15) and was a starter from Day 1. Edwards notched at least 40 catches, 500 yards and four scores in each of his four seasons and broke Alshon Jeffery's school record for receiving yards with 3,045.
Numbers to Know
Height: 6-2 3/4
Weight: 212 pounds
Date of Birth: Nov. 13, 1998 (Week 1 age: 21)
Hand: 9 1/2 inches
Arm: 32 1/4 inches
Wingspan: 78 5/8 inches
40 time: untimed due to injury; documented run time of 4.53 in 2015
2019 stats: 10 games, 71 receptions, 816 yards (11.5 yards per catch), six touchdowns
In three games against top-10 ranked teams, Edwards caught 22 passes for 235 yards and one touchdown
Career stats: 48 games, 234 receptions, 3,045 yards (13.0 yards per catch), 22 touchdowns
Known Injury History
- Torn right meniscus, 2015
- Arthroscopic knee surgery, late 2019
- Broken foot, early 2020
Edwards is a big man at nearly 6-foot-3 with a filled-out body that he uses well. He's strong and plays physical, knowing when and how to use his body for leverage against defenders and plowing through defenders attempting to make the tackle. This resulted in plenty of yards after contact (7.6 per catch, tied for 44th-best in the nation per Pro Football Focus).
But the best part of Edwards' game are his good, quick feet and hands off the snap and in his cuts to buy him space. He's aware of how to get a defensive back on his heels or frozen for a second, then move to get behind him. Frankly, he got open a bunch and should have had a lot more yards than he did (816 as a senior) if not for the poor target accuracy from his quarterbacks. Edwards also lined up wide and in the slot and ran plenty of routes, which will endear him to a coaching staff. About the only thing that might endear him more to coaches are the mere three drops he had on 107 targets.
Start with the obvious: Staying on the field has been a problem for Edwards. He suffered significant knee injuries in 2015 and 2019 and also broke his foot prior to the 2020 NFL Combine. Can he stay healthy?
At his size, Edwards should have dominated jump balls and contested catches, but Pro Football Focus had him for only six such grabs in 2020. Some blame for that is on the South Carolina quarterbacks, but Edwards also couldn't come up with some on-target throws when a defender was on his hip (a couple against Alabama particularly stand out).
Speaking of defenders on his hip, Edwards' speed wasn't good enough to frequently break away. No doubt it's his footwork and technique that helps him gets open, not his speed. Also, Edwards had a lot of production from screens and short-area throws. Again, this could have been a byproduct of playing with inferior passers, but it should still be considered a red flag. Last year, 36 of his 71 receptions were on screens.
Good coaching could help Edwards improve on his contested catches, and a good quarterback could turn him loose on plays longer than 5 yards downfield. But can he develop into a reliable starter if his speed isn't special and he can't stay on the field?
I know I'm not the only one who feels this way, but I get how Edwards reminds people of a poor man's Allen Robinson. Robinson is a big guy who's physical with a large catch radius, is quick but not fast and capable of lining up everywhere. Robinson didn't have the injury concerns coming out that Edwards has, either. Robinson needed a year to really settle into the NFL and Edwards could follow suit. In fact, Edwards might need the year for his foot to fully heal.
Favorite Fantasy Fits
It's going to take a lot for Edwards to make a Fantasy impact as a rookie. While he's capable of lining up anywhere and running good routes, it's probably for the best that he begins his career as a part-time player, especially if his foot isn't 100 percent. He's a nice fit for just about any offense, but he'd especially work out in a West Coast system (like the 49ers use) or in a matchup-specific one like the Patriots use.
The fastest track for Edwards? It might be in Indianapolis, where the Colts could potentially replace Eric Ebron with Edwards as a red-zone threat who can line up all over the place. The Colts have three picks between 30th and 75th, right in the range of where Edwards is expected to get drafted.
Other teams that might be good fits and value Edwards' size and versatility include the Bills (two picks between 50th and 90th overall), Broncos (four picks between 40th and 100th overall) and Packers (two picks between 60th and 100th overall).
Fantasy Bottom Line
Broken feet aren't the easiest thing to come back from, and they can lead to short-term muscle injuries. So unless Edwards is running around in training camp and the preseason, figure that it's going to take some time before he can help your Fantasy team. That could lead to him being undraftable in seasonal leagues. It's a different story in dynasty/keeper formats, where Edwards' low cost and high upside makes him an intriguing choice once you get past the first 100 picks or so. And in rookie-only drafts, Edwards is a sure-fire second-rounder, likely before the middle of the round.
Which players are poised for breakouts, which sleepers do you need to jump on, and which busts should you avoid at all costs in your Fantasy football league? Visit SportsLine now to get early rankings, plus see which WR is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.