This Bryan Edwards fantasy rookie article was updated after the NFL Draft, but still includes pre-draft and NFL combine insight to help paint a complete picture.
Bryan Edwards Fantasy 2020
With the 81st pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Las Vegas Raiders selected wide receiver, Bryan Edwards, from South Carolina. Edwards was a production darling in the 2020 wide receiver class. However, there was a massive concern surrounding him because he had no athletic testing due to a broken foot injury. Still, the Raiders felt confident to still select him with a third-round pick. Las Vegas clearly addressed a need at the wide receiver position in this draft following up their selection on Henry Ruggs III from the first round. So how does the wide receiver room shape up for Edwards joining the likes of veterans Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow, and newcomer Nelson Agholor?
Edwards will not be featured as a vertical threat with the Raiders; that role will be most likely assumed by a combination of Ruggs, Williams, and Agholor. Edwards projects to be the outside “X” receiver according to general manager Mike Mayock. Though his role from Williams will be different they will still be competing for snaps on the outside opposite Ruggs. In terms of target share, Edwards will probably be fighting with Renfrow and tight end Darren Waller as players that will command targets in the short to the intermediate area of the field. That is where Edwards’ skills are best showcased and the Raiders’ organization recognizes that.
“Bryan Edwards is a guy if you go three-by-one, put three to one side, him on the backside, let him run down the red line and back shoulder fade, regular fade, slants – all the big body throws you think he can win. He’s physical, he’s tough, he’s got great hands.” – Mike Mayock per Spursandfeathers.com.
His best bet to contribute in year one would be as a red zone threat. Edwards adds a bigger size frame (6’3″, 215 pounds) that the Raiders do not have outside of Waller. Outside of that, it will be tough to envision Edwards’ being a massive contributor in the short-term with the surplus of pieces on this offense. Having Derek Carr as his current quarterback also brings in more question marks because he is not been an aggressive thrower; he may not have the confidence in Edwards to throw it to him without separation. But if Carr does build trust, that would be a great opportunity for Edwards considering per PFF, Carr finished with the third-lowest the average depth of target in the league (6.9) in 2019. It would be interesting to also see if the Raiders would move Edwards into the slot on occasion. Edwards could succeed as a big slot receiver, but I do not think in 2020 that is how the Raiders envision using him.
Also, keep in mind that the Raiders were second to only the Ravens in 2019 in terms of 22-personnel usage per Michael Fabiano of NFL.com and despite running most of their plays out of 11-personnel it was still the ninth-lowest percentage in the league. Whether that was a scheme or injury-related remains to be seen. As the wide receiver three at best, Edwards snaps could be somewhat limited in year one.
As I identified in my pre-draft write up of Bryan Edwards, he needs targets to succeed in fantasy football. With some versatility of being able to play both inside and outside if any of the veteran guys ahead of him stumble during 2020 and Edwards gets an opportunity, I do not think he loses it after that. In the overall long-term, Edwards has the chance to emerge as a target hog in the Las Vegas offense, but he is a player I do not necessarily see taking huge steps in year one without an injury. My initial projection for Edwards in 2020: 35 receptions for 350 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
Quick Link: Dynasty Rookie Rankings – Check out Bryan Edwards fantasy value in our 2020 rookie rankings.
Bryan Edwards Pre-Draft NFL Profile
Wide receiver Bryan Edwards played all four of his collegiate seasons at South Carolina. After his teammate Deebo Samuel headed to the NFL in 2019, Edwards stepped up as the number one threat in the South Carolina passing offense. In his senior season with just 10 games played, Edwards had a season-high 71 receptions (28th in the class) for 816 yards on 107 targets; with 540 (14th in the class) of those yards (66%) coming after the catch. He also forced 27 broken tackles over the past two seasons. Heading into the 2020 NFL Draft, unfortunately for Edwards, he was unable to test at the combine due to a broken foot. NFL scouts will have to most likely rely on his college film and production for their evaluation of him.
- Height: 6 ft 3 in
- Weight: 212lbs
- Arms: 32.25
- Age: 21
Edwards is the all-time leading receiver in receiving yards and receptions for South Carolina. In the history of the SEC since 1956, Edwards ranks third overall in career receptions (234) and fourth overall in career receiving yards (3045). In terms of yardage only Jordan Matthews, Amari Cooper, and Terrence Edwards have more yards. In terms of receptions, only the aforementioned Matthews and Earl Bennett had more receptions.
Edwards ranked 15th in the 2020 draft class in yards per route run (2.58) with a minimum of 100 targets via Pro Football Focus. That is one of the more predictive success stats at the wide receiver position. His yards after the catch per reception (7.6) also ranked seventh-highest of any player that saw at least 100 targets. Additionally, after Week 1 when Edwards had just one catch for seven yards, he would go on a streak with at least five receptions in each game for the rest of the season.
From 2016-2018, Edwards and Samuel were both in South Carolina. Edwards played in more games (38), which is why his overall production numbers are higher than Samuel’s. It is worth noting that in 2017 when Samuel played just three games, Edwards as a sophomore led South Carolina in receptions (64) and target share (25.50%).
NFL Combine Recap
Edwards did not test at the NFL scouting combine because of a broken foot.
Strengths & Weaknesses
One strength of Edwards is his extremely-high catch rate. His drop rate (4.1%) via PFF ranked 12th-best overall of the 2020 draft class with at least 100 targets in 2019. He has just 20 dropped passes in his college career which out of his 234 receptions would mean 91% of catchable balls he caught. Edwards also brings some versatility despite the fact that he played mostly on the outside in college.
He was not heavily featured in the slot but did routinely see time there. Of his total snaps, he posted a 37.6% snap share in the slot which was the second-highest of the 2020 draft class. From the slot, he finished 2019 with 38 targets, 27 receptions and 2.46 yards per route run (23rd). The important note to call out here was that coaches would move Edwards into the slot to get him the ball easier. Other dynamic strengths are highlighted by his ability as a punt returner. He returned 19 punts for an average of 11.6 yards per return. His senior year he returned them at 17.9 yards per return which ranked seventh in the NCAA of all returns with at least seven attempts.
His main weakness is he is not a player that can stretch the field on a consistent basis. That is reflective by his yards per reception (13) for career average and last season just 11.5 (34th in the class). Edwards saw just 17 targets over 20 yards downfield (69th) and had just four catches. Now he caught all four that were deemed catchable, but it does not show that using him downfield will necessarily be how he is deployed at the next level. Of his 816 total receiving yards in 2019 – 268 were generated behind the of scrimmage, 375 which eventually became YAC. In his college career, Edwards scored 22 touchdowns. Nine of them came on passing plays over 20 yards and the other 13 came on passing under 20 yards. 84% of the passes thrown to Edwards were under 20 yards. For Edwards to succeed in the NFL it will be as a move-the-chains possession receiver with red-zone upside. His downfield game is just not there. Sports Info Solutions charted Edwards’ ADOT at 8.2 and total air yards at 285 yards; the total opposite of a big-play waiting to happen in another rookie prospect, Jalen Reagor.
Edwards’ other major glaring weakness is agility and just his athletic measurables overall. He lacks explosiveness so his YAC numbers are more of a testament of breaking tackles – not running away with speed. This could cause a significant drop in draft capital for Edwards which at the end of the day is extremely important for projecting rookies for fantasy football. He also is dealing with a broken foot and has dealt with multiple knee injuries in his time at South Carolina.
Best Fit: NFL Scheme
Edwards can definitely thrive within a quick-passing scheme, that gets him the ball quickly and allows him to get in space to use his YAC-ability. He would definitely be efficient in an offense that uses wide receivers in screens. He caught 36 screens on the year last season. It also helps if Edwards had a quarterback that is aggressive with the ball; he is bigger so he can win balls at the point of attack because of his size.
Looking at the NFL landscape the Pittsburgh Steelers look like a perfect fit for Edwards. Their newest wide receiver coach was the former wide receiver coach in South Carolina. Pittsburgh is always looking for wide receivers in their drafts especially with higher capital in the last seven seasons. Edwards offers a bigger frame than any current Steelers wide receiver; this would be an immediate upgrade in the red zone where Pittsburgh ranked dead-last in 2019. Also, Ben Roethlisberger was one of the most aggressive passers in 2018. He ranked second in total interceptable passes (31) and his receivers ranked third to last in average target separation (1.18).
Steelers hired former South Carolina receiver coach Bryan McClendon to be their WRs coach. Wonder if this makes SC receiver Bryan Edwards a target for them in the draft. Pittsburgh has drafted a receiver in the top four rounds in six of their last seven seasons. pic.twitter.com/0OwgffDfqV
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) February 10, 2020
Pre-NFL Draft Dynasty Factor
For wide receivers entering the draft two factors to always take notice are college target market share and breakout age. Via Playerprofiler.com these are two categories that Edwards checks off: 100 percentile breakout age and 94th percentile college dominator rating. The main cause for concern is we have zero athletic testings on Edwards which could ultimately hurt his draft capital. However, his versatility as a returner, slot receiver, and willing run blocker will help him see more time on the field. But again, with no combine or pro day testing, Edwards will most certainly fall in the NFL Draft. This could mean come time for rookie drafts that Edwards may be a value, but the chances of him making an impact on your fantasy team in year one will be slim. Because he is not a big-play wide receiver, commanding targets in his NFL offense will be his way to fantasy relevance.