NFL training camps have arrived and several rookies will get their first opportunity to step on an NFL field. Training camp is the first chance for teams to evaluate the roster and make decisions prior to the start of the regular season.
Roles are defined in training camp and eyes are on every position. According to CBS Sports writer Chris Trapasso, late-round rookies have a chance to prove they belong in the NFL with inspired play.
Trapasso highlighted the rookies to look out for in each NFL training camp. For the Las Vegas Raiders, the decision was an easy choice.
The Raiders drew national attention for the selection of former Alabama speedster Henry Ruggs III in the first round. However, Trapasso also likes fellow rookie receiver Bryan Edwards. He believes Edwards can turn heads on the field.
“But keep a close eye on Edwards, a four-year producer at South Carolina with an NFL body and a complete skill set,” Trapasso said. “Had it not been for a broken foot during the pre-draft process, he wouldn’t have made it out of the second round, and I wouldn’t have criticized a team for taking him in Round 1.”
Edwards was stellar in his four-year career at South Carolina. Last season, he had 71 catches for 816 yards and six touchdowns. He also led the SEC with 7.1 receptions per game and was a team captain for the Gamecocks.
Edwards owns the school record in catches (234) and receiving yards (3,045). He was a second-team All-SEC selection and produced three 100-yard games.
The Raiders were impressed with his skills set and drafted him in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. While Edwards has dealt with knee and foot injuries, he still has the elite talent to make a difference in the Raiders’ offense.
NFL evaluators rave about his physicality on the perimeter. He has a big frame and uses it to create separation downfield. Senior Bowl executive director Jim Nagy raved about Edwards after watching him thrive against Alabama last season.
In that game, Edwards had nine catches for 79 yards against a stout Alabama secondary that had several NFL draft picks.
“That Alabama game sticks out in my mind and just how rugged and physical he was,” Nagy said. “I love to see a guy play like that. Now with the injury stuff it’s going to be interesting. I don’t know how far he’ll fall because it is a very deep wide receiver class, but if he can get healthy and avoid those injuries and that does not slow him down at the next level, man, he’s going to be a good NFL player.”
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden agrees. He loves Edwards and is ready to get him on the field for him to showcase his talent.
“We like Edwards. I’ve had a lot of luck at South Carolina,” Gruden said. “Got to coach (wide receiver) Sterling Sharpe. Got a chance to coach wide receiver Robert Brooks. This guy here, Edwards, he is a physical guy. He is a good player. When healthy, when he gets that ankle right, he’ll prove it.”
If Edwards can stay healthy, it will be a potential steal for the Raiders in their middle rounds of the NFL Draft. Ruggs will get a chance to ascend into the starting lineup early, but Edwards could be right behind him.
“His film was that clean,” Trapasso said. “At 6-3 and 212 pounds, Edwards looks like a No. 1 perimeter wideout, he has good athletic talents, can create some separation, is deceptively nimble after the catch, and will go up and get it in traffic at all levels of the field.”