Conflicts Marred End of Edwards' Career

Ray Edwards' stats and athleticism made him a higher draft pick than he was, but a conflict with the Purdue coaching staff limited his playing time and his draft stock.

Talent is often in the eye of the beholder. Scouts that see players in action throughout their careers will have a different opinion than draft analysts that see a game or two on film and get second-hand information from a team assistant.

That was a point the Vikings tried to make when it came to the evaluation of defensive end Ray Edwards – taken on the fourth round of the draft Sunday. Edwards looked to be a hot prospect. He was an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten pick and a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award in 2004. But he fell out of the starting lineup in 2005, leaving some with the impression that he had regressed. But, after looking into the matter, the Vikings determined that the reasons were different.

"It's hard to say why," director of college scouting Scott Studwell said. "I know there were some problems – some conflicts – between he and the coaching staff. I think they made business personal."

Edwards tried to make the best of the situation after losing his starting job to Rob Ninkovitch, who was drafted after Edwards Sunday. But, as time wore on, it became increasingly difficult to accept his role. In the end, the tension became too great and Edwards opted for early entry into the NFL draft.

"It was kind of difficult, but what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger," Edwards said. "I kept pushing on, just kept working and doing what I do – how to get ready for a game and get ready for the season. At the end of the season, I picked it back up."

Edwards decision to come out early more than likely cost him several thousands of dollars. With Ninkovich gone from Purdue, if he had mended his fences with the coaching staff, he could have been a standout in 2006 and likely been a solid Day One prospect next year. But, just as Studwell intimated that the Purdue coaches made business personal with Edwards, the reality of his situation made personal life more of a business decision for him.

"I did (give thought of returning)," Edwards said. "When you come from school on breaks and there's no food in the house to eat and you have to hang out with your buddies to eat, it's kind of hard to stay in school.

Edwards won't go hungry with the Vikings and, if he responds to the coaching staff like they believe he will, he could be living high off the hog for years to come and leave the bad feelings at the end of his college career behind.

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