Evaluating South Carolina wide receiver Bryan Edwards, who the New York Giants could certainly consider in the upcoming draft’s third round.
The New York Giants‘ top three wideouts — Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, and Golden Tate — missed a total of 13 games last year. Regardless of the reason (injuries, PED suspensions, etc.), it definitely hindered both the progress of the offense and the development of Daniel Jones.
General manager Dave Gettleman will certainly have that in mind when his team’s third-round pick (No. 99 overall) arrives later this month. The veteran front-office leader will want to add to the depth of the receiver room and acquire as many weapons as possible for New York’s young quarterback.
So with that, let’s take a look at South Carolina wideout Bryan Edwards, who the Giants could certainly take with the aforementioned day-two compensatory selection.
Edwards measures in at 6-foot-3 and weighs in at 212 pounds, possessing 32.25-inch arms and 9.5-inch hands. For reference, Shepard registered at 5-foot-10, 194 pounds with 30.375-inch arms and 9.75-inch hands at the NFL Scouting Combine. Slayton, on the other hand, registered at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds with 32.75-inch arms and 10-inch hands.
Bryan didn’t take part in combine workouts after fracturing his fifth metatarsal back in February. He additionally missed the final two games of his senior season due to a knee injury. Thus, there may be concerns that he’ll be injury-prone in the pros. But on Thursday, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Edwards is out of the walking boot and moving well, so he’s at least making progress with his latest setback.
South Carolina WR Bryan Edwards, who fractured his fifth metatarsal before the Combine, has his boot off now and is moving around well, I’m told. Teams were just sent updated images and scans of the Day 2 WR, who is the Gamecocks all-time leader in receptions.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 9, 2020
During his four years at the collegiate level (48 total games), Edwards set school records in both career receptions (234) and career receiving yards (3,045). He additionally finished third in school history with 22 career touchdown catches. Edwards also spent some time as a punt returner, totaling 19 returns for 220 yards (11.6 yards per return).
His senior-year efforts earned him second-team All-SEC honors in 2019.
Film room notes
There are definitely both positives and negatives to his on-field play, all of which are displayed in the above pair of games. The first matchup shown is South Carolina’s 2019 loss to Alabama, while the latter contest is the Gamecocks’ 2019 win over Georgia.
To start off, Edwards surprisingly has great quickness and athleticism for someone his size. Despite the bigger frame, he can be used in end-around, tunnel screen, and touch-pass scenarios and is elusive enough to come around the edge and turn up field.
And if you’re coming up to tackle him on those types of plays, then good luck. He uses his size to show aggressiveness as a ball carrier, lower his shoulder, and fight for extra yardage.
It does take a little time for his acceleration to build though. This would be a legitimate problem at the next level considering how much faster the NFL is becoming every single year.
In spite of the athleticism, Edwards isn’t the most consistent route-runner. There are some times when he sells the defensive back with good footwork, don’t get me wrong. But, there are other times when the route-running portrays laziness.
Edwards actually seems to telegraph his route-running. When he’s the quarterback’s initial read, he usually runs a sharper route. But when he isn’t, he comes out of his stance a little slower. NFL defensive backs would surely pick up on this and use this knowledge to their advantage.
Edwards also doesn’t seem to gain a great deal of separation from defensive backs, another aspect to his game that would be a major issue at the pro level.
As a blocker, he’s extremely solid. He uses his frame to his advantage and definitely overpowers the defensive back in those regards. Edwards is additionally talented at holding his blocks if the ball carrier is coming around the edge to his side.
I’d like to end on a good note, so with that, I’ll say there was one particular play near the two-minute mark of the Georgia video where Edwards portrays the entire package of a successful, productive receiver.
He initially sells the defensive back, acting like he’s running a 10-yard up-and-out to the left sideline. But then when the defender steps up to him, Edwards utilizes fantastic timing to plant the foot and turn up field, gaining enough separation to make the catch down the sideline and eventually end up across the goal line.
It was an NFL-type play through and through, with the dominant route run, catch, timing, vision, and essentially every other aspect.
All in all, Edwards contains a great deal of potential. He just needs to work out a few kinks, which could definitely be done if he’s provided the right coaching.
How would Edwards fit in the Giants roster?
The Giants certainly need that tall receiver within the offense. Right now, Cody Core and David Sills V are the tallest guys in that position group. Like Edwards, both are 6-foot-3. But Core is more of a special teams weapon and Sills was mostly just a practice squad player last year.
If Big Blue was to draft Edwards, they would certainly be making progress in gaining the skills players needed for Jones to effectively and efficiently develop.
Shepard is that productive possession receiver while Slayton is that athletic option who can be successful in space. Edwards, on the other hand, could be that goal-line target who has a knack for the end zone.
Bryan wouldn’t start right away, but he could definitely work his way up the depth chart as time progresses. It’s like what Slayton did during his rookie campaign last year.
How this position group eventually turns out is also very unpredictable.
Shepard missed six games last year due to multiple stints in the concussion protocol, so his long-term future is unclear. Corey Coleman isn’t exactly a stranger to the medical tent either, as the former first-round pick missed the entire 2019 campaign due to a torn ACL. Tate has three years left on his current deal, but it’s not guaranteed that he’ll even be on the team after this upcoming season, so that’s also something to keep in mind.
No one owns a crystal ball to predict the general future of this receiving corps. Thus, if Edwards comes to East Rutherford, he’d likely find his time to shine one way or another.