Edwards An Oft-Speculated Player For Vikings

Braylon Edwards and the Minnesota Vikings would seem to be a natural fit … if only Edwards would fall to the Vikings with the No. 7 overall pick in the NFL Draft. He has many of the qualities to replace Randy Moss, and talked about that possibility and much more at the NFL Combine as one of the best interviews of the extended weekend.

Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards is in demand. His popularity can't be denied.

He could be the draft's top overall pick — "I think that's a possibility. I don't think there's a clear-cut No. 1. I think a lot of decisions are being made about the top three, top four, top five in terms of trading, trading down. 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 — or Edwards could slip all the way to the Minnesota Vikings at No. 7.

That thought was in his mind just days after the news broke that the Vikings had brokered a deal to trade Moss, a time when Edwards was on the podium at the combine in front of Viking Update and dozens of other reporters.

"That would be a real task, but it would be one that I'd gladly take on. Randy Moss has been a magnificent receiver since he first stepped foot into the league," Edwards said. "Just to have a chance to be in a situation like that with a quarterback like Daunte Culpepper and other guys like Nate Burleson, it would be a great opportunity for me."

However, to get to the Vikings with the seventh pick, 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, he'll have to make it past teams with numerous offensive needs like Miami, Cleveland and Tampa Bay, and finally be passed over by 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.

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 ties to the Vikings have some strength, as does his No. 1 jersey number at Michigan.

"Anthony Carter is like my godfather. Desmond Howard, Derrick Alexander. These guys know, No. 1 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 didn't 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, 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 concensus All-America selection, the Big Ten's 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."

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