Braylon Edwards and The Draft

Braylon Edwards aroused a few eyebrows with his comments on the draft at yesterday's press conference. I spoke with his dad, Stan, last night and he shed much appreciated light on the situation.

When asked a little over a month ago whether he was considering making a jump to the NFL, Braylon Edwards stated that he was sure that he’d return to Michigan. He was asked the same question at Monday’s press conference and his response, which was carried in today’s Detroit News, has been the talk of fans on the radio waves and internet messageboards all over the state.

"When I sit down with my family after the Rose Bowl game, I have to make the best decision for my family and myself. I would love to sit up here and say coming back would definitely be the best decision, but who knows? There are a lot of things out there, and if leaving is the best decision, I'm not trying to be mean or trying to go back on what I said, but you've got to look at it from my point of view and my family's point of view. Sometimes leaving is the best thing to do."

Such consideration shouldn’t be unexpected with the success he’s had the second half of the year. The prospect of injury is something every player must consider. Braylon already has the million-dollar insurance policy from the NCAA, so precautionary measures have been taken. However, when there’s a reasonable opportunity to grasp the fulfillment of a dream (and all of the dollars that come along with that), then one has to really give it a great deal of thought. Braylon’s father, former Michigan fullback Stan Edwards, affirmed that sentiment in a conversation last night. “When you legitimately have 217 yards on a potential #1 cornerback (speaking of Chris Gamble) and over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns (notwithstanding penalties) in 2 games against the guy, it only makes sense. “

The fact that this avenue is being explored doesn’t imply any imminence in the younger Edwards' eventual decision. Braylon indicated as much in his quote in today’s Free Press. “A possibility means it's a chance,” Braylon indicated to the Freep. “There's a slight chance that I might leave. If I have to do a ratio, it's 80-20 (to stay). That's a very slight chance. It's just a possibility.” Stan’s comments were quite consistent with that line of thinking. “At some level, I’ve got to let him make his own decisions,” Stan said. “It depends on if it makes sense for him to go. I think Braylon can go play, and maybe even start, as a rookie on a number of NFL teams. Because he has the potential to be a top 15 pick, we’ve already run the numbers between going in that range versus going in the top 25…and there’s a huge difference in dollars. The question becomes does it make monetary sense to go.”

One of the most talked about issues has been the idea that his renewed interest is a surprise to Michigan. The staff takes a very proactive approach in helping the underclassmen on the roster with high-level draftable potential. And while Braylon may not have had recent discussions with Coach Carr regarding this issue, that he’d be taking another look shouldn’t come as much of a shock. “It’s not a government secret,” Stan said. “Michigan had Braylon come in and fill out his junior inquiry papers. I don’t know if that’s the correct term or not. Nevertheless, there’s a panel in the NFL that any juniors that think they might be high level draft picks can send the inquiry to. Then when the scouts get in the inquiry, they’ll watch all of the player’s games and provide analysis of where they think said player will go. That’s not a guarantee, just a guide. Lloyd is very familiar with that. It goes on every year with all of juniors with third round or higher draft potential.”

Whether Braylon is projected in the top 15 depends not only on his performance, but the availability of other receivers in the draft. This year's WR crop could be the deepest in recent history if some of the underclassmen that are projected to make the jump indeed do so. The following is a preliminary rundown of receivers that could be in the draft.

Roy Williams
Texas 6-4, 210 Sr.
Lee Evans Wisconsin 5-11, 192 Sr.
Rashaun Woods Oklahoma State 6-2, 190 Sr.
Michael Jenkins Ohio State 6-4, 202 Sr.
*Reggie Williams Washington 6-4, 220 Jr.
*Michael Clayton LSU 6-4, 200 Jr.
**Larry Fitzgerald Pittsburgh 6-3, 210 So

*Junior that is rumored very likely to enter

**Fitzgerald will likely be the first receiver taken if he wins an appeal. Actually 3 years removed from high school, but spent a year at prep-school to get qualified after graduation. The NCAA counts prep-school as another year of high school.

The obvious question for Michigan fans is will this be a distraction during bowl preparation… and ultimately in the game? His dad, however, is very confident that the draft is the furthest thing from his son’s mind while getting ready to play USC. “There’s no question where Braylon’s focus lies. He just answered the questions that he was asked and I think much of his response was him having fun with the media.”

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