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Bryan Edwards - Fantasy Football Rookie Spotlight

The enormous level of excitement that exists surrounding members of each year's rookie class has become an annual occurrence for the fantasy community. This frenzy for first-year players also intensifies as each NFL Draft approaches, then continues through the draft process. This enthusiasm rises even higher as owners anticipate the opportunity to secure these rookies for their own rosters.

The tremendous degree of interest in this season's newcomers has been no exception. That is why the team at RotoBaller is assembling a collection of fantasy football rookie profiles that will provide you with analysis and data for the most promising first-year players. This will help you determine which rookies should be targeted during your draft process, and which players are less worthy of consideration as components for your rosters.

This year's rookie class includes a collection of wide receivers that will be forced to overcome the challenges of an unusual offseason. This scenario will impact Bryan Edwards, who was a standout homegrown receiver from South Carolina and is currently 19th in our latest rookie rankings. His potential to provide owners with a productive resource during 2020 and beyond will be examined in this profile.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

 

Profile

Team: Las Vegas Raiders
College: South Carolina
Height/Weight: 6’ 3”, 212 lb
2020 NFL Draft: Round 3, Pick 17

 

A Palmetto State Star

Dating back to his time at Conway High School, Bryan Edwards was easy to pick out for scouts and fans alike. Edwards was considered one of the best high school players in the state of South Carolina, nominated as a finalist for South Carolina's "Mr. Football," and appearing in the prestigious US Army All-American game. As a four-star recruit, Edwards chose to stay in his home state to attend the University of South Carolina in nearby Columbia over scholarship offers from southeastern powerhouse programs such as Clemson and Georgia. Enrolling early in the spring of 2016, Edwards immediately became the best receiver on campus and would retain that role for his four years in Columbia.

In the fall of 2016, Edwards would become only the sixth Gamecock of all-time to start in his first collegiate game as a true freshman, joining an elite group with the likes of Jadeveon Clowney and Stephon Gilmore. Throughout his illustrious career, Edwards won the Steve Spurrier MVP Award, given to the most valuable offensive player on the team, twice, as well as the team most valuable player award his senior season. Despite playing only 10 games and with a true freshman quarterback, Edwards had a prolific senior season, leading the SEC in receptions per game with 7.1. He holds the University of South Carolina career records for consecutive games with a catch (all 48 career games played), receptions, and receiving yards, some records that seem destined to be in his control for a very long time.

Edwards' career statistics at South Carolina:

Games Receptions Yards TDs
2019 10 71 816 6
2018 13 55 846 7
2017 13 64 793 5
2016 12 44 590 4
Total 48 234 3045 22

 

Production vs. Measurables

Despite an incredibly productive career, Edwards fell to the third round, largely due to concerns that he has a low ceiling and a rumored 4.52 40-yard dash time. When looking at the tape though, Edwards shows the ability to outrun cornerbacks with consistency, and he also served kick returning and punt returning duties during his last two years on campus. In addition to South Carolina's pro day being canceled because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Edwards did not get an opportunity to participate in drills at the NFL combine due to a broken foot that he suffered during training.

Another factor that may have helped the Raiders get Edwards with the 81st overall pick is his injury history. Edwards suffered three major injuries since high school that would give most NFL general managers pause. After tearing his right meniscus and missing the state playoffs in his senior high school season, Edwards also had arthroscopic knee surgery that ended his 2019 season and broke his foot while training for the 2020 NFL draft. He is expected to make a full recovery in anticipation of training camp this fall, but his recovery will be an area to monitor through the summer.

 

Not the only fish to feed in Vegas

Entering the 2019 NFL season, the Las Vegas Raiders' offense was expected to operate through their star receiver Antonio Brown. After Brown's well-documented separation from the team, the Raiders struggled to find a go-to receiver last season, resulting in a 43% target share to the position, which ranked second-to-last in the NFL. was a mere 0.01% above Philadelphia’s league-worst percentage.

Raiders Coach Jon Gruden and General Manager Mike Mayock were aggressive in their pursuit of offensive weaponry to surround quarterback Derek Carr with. The Raiders signed former Eagles slot receiver Nelson Agholor, traded for former Bills receiver Zay Jones last season, and also drafted Henry Ruggs III with their first of two first-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft. This is to say nothing of the addition of former Kentucky all-purpose star Lynn Bowden Jr, who played receiver, running back and quarterback as an all-around threat in college but will be featured primarily as a running back for the Raiders. The Raiders return Tyrell Williams and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow from last year's underwhelming receiver corps.

Stylistically, the easiest path to playing time for Edwards will come through Tyrell Williams' starting position. Edwards did the majority of his damage on the outside as a lead receiver, which is the role that Williams took on for the Raiders last season. Williams battled a case of plantar fasciitis last season but still performed to a measly 42 receptions and 6 catches. Williams, a 28-year old journeyman who started his career with the Chargers, is a useful receiver whose talents overlap with Edwards and will be in a battle with the rookie all season long.

The biggest beneficiary of the Raiders' lack of wide receiver depth in the 2019 season was Hard Knocks star tight end Darren Waller, who broke out for 90 catches and 1,145 yards in his age-27 season. Prior to 2019, Waller had a combined 18 receptions in three years, and it will be unlikely to expect him to replicate 2019's performance thanks to the addition of Edwards and Ruggs.

Edwards’ Outlook

The lack of organized team activities this summer won't impact Edwards' fantasy outlook as significant as his rookie teammates Ruggs and Bowden due to the likelihood that Edwards would sit them out while nursing his broken foot. The Raiders have been conducting virtual team meetings, and there is no doubt that offensive coordinator Greg Olson is already constructing ways to use his trio of rookie offensive weapons in creative ways.

Edwards' size, experience with the previous middling quarterback play at South Carolina, and a lack of other options on the Raiders roster should provide him with an opportunity to make an instant impact on offense for Las Vegas.

Last season, the Raiders' receivers were not worthy of significant fantasy consideration, with only Renfrow and Williams exceeding 20 catches. This season, with the addition of Ruggs and Edwards, the position will certainly be more utilized than in 2019, and Edwards is a rookie that should be expected to make an immediate fantasy impact if he can overcome the broken foot.

More NFL Rookie Analysis




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