Thirteen different wide receivers were drafted ahead of South Carolina's Bryan Edwards in April, and there are nearly as many legitimate pass catching options competing for time in the Las Vegas Raiders' restocked offense ahead of the 2020 NFL season. But if you ask anyone involved with the team's wide receiver group this offseason, it's Edwards, the 21-year-old rookie, who could ultimately be the Raiders' top target on the outside.
The Raiders have poured a lot of other resources into reinforcing quarterback Derek Carr's supporting cast, pairing returning starters like Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow and breakout tight end Darren Waller with first-round burner Henry Ruggs, hybrid running back Lynn Bowden Jr., longtime Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten and one-time Philadelphia Eagles standout Nelson Agholor. That's not even mentioning incumbent running backs Josh Jacobs and Jalen Richard, both of whom are in line for extensive pass catching duties.
Seemingly half of those options in the passing game, however, have gone out of their way to highlight Edwards as the guy to watch.
"Bryan is a very violent route runner, and that's a good thing," Carr told reporters this week. "He's very violent, he's very aggressive in his cuts, he reminds me -- when the ball is in the air -- of Davante (Adams), great ball skills."
Adams, the Pro Bowl Green Bay Packers wideout, wasn't the only big name to appear in an Edwards comparison.
Tyrell Williams, according to The Athletic's Vic Tafur, said Edwards reminds him of Mike Williams, his former Los Angeles Chargers teammate who broke out for 1,000 yards in 2019. And Agholor echoed the praise, saying Edwards "has (the) best hands I've seen in a long time," and is "quicker than he looks."
"We knew he had the pedigree," coach Jon Gruden said, piling on the promise. "He's the all-time leading receiver at (South Carolina). But he's physical, he's got tremendous hands, he's a quick learner. He's a business man, too. He's not got a lot of other interests other than being a great receiver."
Carr also deemed Edwards a "freak talent" with first-round qualities, and according to Bleacher Report's Maurice Moton, the rest of the organization is on board with that assessment: "The buzz around Bryan Edwards is on 1,000 percent. You'd think the Raiders picked him in the first round. Teammates see he has the tools to be a lead WR."
Edwards figures to open the 2020 season behind both Williams and Ruggs, the 12th overall pick, with Renfrow and Agholor competing for slot duties. In the event Las Vegas uses Ruggs primarily in the slot, however, there's a chance Edwards could also see early action starting on the outside. Agholor and former Buffalo Bills starter Zay Jones are the only other primary competition at outside receiver.