What Can Bryan Edwards Bring to the Raiders' Passing Offense in 2020?
The Las Vegas Raiders have made it clear that they wanted to revamp their offense in the 2020 NFL Draft. After selecting speedster Henry Ruggs III with their first selection, Vegas then selected Kentucky star Lynn Bowden and South Carolina stud Bryan Edwards back to back.
While Bowden is more of an athletic marvel, Edwards has a legitimate shot at carving out a significant role on the Raiders' offense -- and for fantasy football -- right away.
Not many wide receivers make an impact as soon as they step onto the field, but that's exactly what Bryan Edwards did at South Carolina. At just 17-years-old, Edwards caught 8 passes for 101 receiving yards in his very first game -- in the SEC, no less.
He went on to finish that season leading the team in touchdowns with four, while finishing with the third-most yards (590) and receptions (44) on the team despite playing with future first-round tight end Hayden Hurst and 2019 second-rounder Deebo Samuel.
Edwards steadily improved each year with the Gamecocks, though he never finished with more than 846 receiving yards on a mediocre passing offense. However, outside of raw counting stats, Edwards checked almost every box you would like a receiver prospect to check.
He produced from an early age -- his 17.8 breakout age is the literal 100th-percentile on PlayerProfiler.com -- and was dominant compared to his teammates. He accounted for 48.4% of South Carolina's passing offense, according to PlayerProfiler, putting his dominator rating in the 94th percentile.
He's 6-foot-3 and 213 pounds, giving him ideal size for the position, and that size shows up on tape consistently. He can make highlight-reel catches by using his body and can manhandle opposing defenders. And just to top it off, Edwards returned punts in the final two years of his collegiate career, even averaging 17.9 yards per return in 2019.
Unfortunately, Edwards broke his foot during the pre-draft process, so he was unable to perform in any of the athletic testing drills in this year's combine. Recent reports indicate that he is progressing well in his recovery, but due to the coronavirus, we may not have a clear picture of Edwards' health until much closer to the season.
On the bright side, however, it means Edwards might not fall behind his teammates this offseason, as teams may not be able to gather in person as they routinely do each year.
The Raiders entered the 2020 NFL Draft with arguably the weakest receiving corps in the NFL. Tight end Darren Waller led the team in most receiving categories in 2019, while rookie Hunter Renfrow and veteran Tyrell Williams each produced fewer than 675 receiving yards. It was clear the team would draft a receiver, but they have downright attacked the position so far in the draft.
Edwards has a realistic chance of carving out a valuable role on the Raiders offense as early as Week 1 -- that's exactly what he did at the age of 17 in his freshman season at South Carolina. Edwards offers prototypical WR1 size, and despite the highlight-reel catches emphasized above, he did a significant amount of his damage in college while operating near the line of scrimmage.
Poor quarterback play limited the team's playbook, and as a result, a ton of Edwards' production last season came on screen passes. That might be a red flag in some cases, but with check-down champion Derek Carr under center for Vegas, Edwards could be a perfect fit.
The Raiders completely revamped their pass-catching corps in this draft, and Edwards might be the biggest winner of their new group.
He's demonstrated an ability to play alongside NFL talent already, he possesses the youngest breakout age in college football history, and his style of play aligns perfectly with what his new quarterback likes to do.
Edwards is a big winner here and could become an immediate producer for fantasy football this fall. JJ Zachariason projects Edwards for 37 catches, 448 yards, and 2.3 touchdowns in 2020.