While Henry Ruggs III is making the headlines for the Las Vegas Raiders, fellow wide receiver Bryan Edwards could also have an impact in his rookie campaign.
Ruggs got most of the attention early on in the 2020 NFL Draft, and deservedly so, as the speedster is expected to make an immediate impact. That being said, another Raiders rookie who can make an impact is Edwards. He’s no slouch, during his collegiate career at South Carolina, he became their all-time leader in receptions. Career totals of 234 catches while amassing 3,045 receiving yards are indicative of such a title. Maybe not as blazing fast as Ruggs, Edwards still has legs and his frame will also pay dividends for the Raiders; he measures at 6-foot-3 and weighs in at 212 pounds.
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One of the most important attributes to Edwards’ game will be his route running and physical style of play, something Ted Nguyen of The Athletic pointed out recently:
“In college, he [Ruggs] ran a wide variety of routes cleanly and his breaks were crisp and sudden enough for him to win “box-out” position. He has a bully mentality and looks forward to punishing defenders after he catches the ball.”
Both of these will be a breath of fresh air for the Raiders: Edwards’ route running and physical style should make opposing defenses think twice about him. His speed on the edges also needs to be utilized. Nguyen highlighted Edwards’ speed and strength against Alabama who will have a bevy of those defenders playing in the NFL this year. It will be up to Gruden to fully take advantage of his rookie’s strengths while he develops into a complete receiver. Even general manager Mike Mayock is fully aware of what Edwards will bring to the Raiders out of the gate.
“Bryan Edwards is a guy you can go three-by-one, you can put him on the backside, let him run down the red line, throw back-shoulder fades, regular fades, slants,” Mayock said. “All the big-body throws where you think you can win.”
Between Edwards’ speed, strength, and route running it’s safe to say the Raiders got themselves a real weapon. Quarterback Derek Carr will have Ruggs to spread out opposing defenses, with Edwards he’ll have a dagger to gouge defenses on the edge and punish defenses.
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Top Photo: Ben Margot/Associated Press