|This story originally published on TheNFLexperts.com|
Braylon Edwards catapulted himself up the charts with a superb senior season and knows a trade is a possibility with the top overall pick. “It's a chance for a lot of guys to go No. 1. I think at least four, five, six guys possibly could be contending for that No. 1 spot," he said. Does that mean Edwards could slip all the way out of the top five because of the criticisms that he doesn’t run precise routes and he had a history of dropped passes?
Edwards would have to fall past San Francisco, which has the first overall pick in the draft and a number of needs. If he falls past the 49ers, he¹ll have to make it past teams with numerous offensive needs like Miami, Cleveland and Tampa Bay. Lurking just outside of the top five is Tennessee, which needs a replacement receiver for Derrick Mason, who was lost to Baltimore in free agency. Edwards’ father, Stanley also played for the Houston Oilers, the old-school version of the Tennessee Titans, and the Detroit Lions. Next is Minnesota, which filled a number of defensive needs via free agency but still needs a replacement for Randy Moss, who was traded to Oakland.
In fact, Edwards being questioned at the combine was almost comical, as reporters from several NFL cities holding top-10 picks followed with a barrage of successive questions along the lines of, "How about playing for (insert your town here)?" It was a testament to his popularity.
Edwards’ sports knowledge is deep, and, while he can speak intelligently about many NFL teams, his history is with Michigan and the speedsters they have turned out the last two decades.
"Anthony Carter is like my godfather. Desmond Howard, Derrick Alexander. These guys know, No. 1 (the jersey number worn) represents greatness at our school," Edwards said. "It's like No. 55 at USC. Guys who wear that number are expected to lead and make plays. It's a legendary number. It's something that would be associated with greatness. I told myself, 'If I want to leave my mark and be truly a part of the Michigan tradition, I choose to wear No. 1 if that's possible.' Coach (Lloyd) Carr made it possible for me."
While Edwards has met some of the Michigan alumni who made it to the NFL, his father’s NFL roots were his big connection to the pro game while growing up.
"I've always been around NFL caliber guys my whole life. He's always thrown the ball to me. I've done receiver things. A lot of things I see now, I saw in college - a lot of drills, they're just the way things are being taught," he said. "I saw those things when I was 12, 13, 14 years old - just how my father had already been there, it meant a lot. It helped me a lot. It guided me along through college."
He almost didn¹t make it to a big-time college to improve, or at least display, his athletic talents. He spent two years at King High School in Detroit, where the focus of the offense was running the football. After "one touchdown and about 20 catches in three years," Edwards transferred to Bishop Gallagher, where his athletic skills would catch the attention of the Michigan program and others. He started at wide receiver, running back, free safety, cornerback, linebacker, defensive end, quarterback, tight end, kick returner, punt returner and long snapper, getting 40 catches as a receiver. He has to be considered the best all-around football player in the draft, but his clear-cut position has been wide receiver.
Since that move, he has commanded the headlines. His final three seasons at Michigan he averaged more than 1,000 yards receiving and 13 touchdown catches. In his 36 starts at Michigan, he caught 252 passes for 3,542 yards and 39 touchdowns, all Wolverine records. By the end of his senior year, he was a consensus All-America selection, the Big Ten¹s Offensive Player of the Year and the nation’s top receiver as the Biletnikoff Award winner.
"I believe the NFL will be another stomping ground for me to showcase my talents and move among the elite," he said. "The thing about it is, even though you're in the NFL now, you can't get caught up in the hype. You have to still prepare like you were that guy in college. That's how I'm going to approach it. I believe that guys who are successful look at it that way. They look at it as a business. They look at it as a chance to be great."