The purpose of this post is to try and theorize what Panther fans can expect from Armanti in his rookie season. I will look at stats from comparable players to form opinions.
Comparable players, as I see it:
games played = 16
rec = 47 rec yds = 489
avg yds/rec = 10.4
rec TD = 2
rush att = 19
rush yds = 134
rush yd avg = 7.1
pass att = 8
pass comp = 7
comp % = 87.5
pass yds = 45
games played = 14
kick returns = 45
return yds = 1094
avg yds/return = 24.3
TD = 1
no stats worth noting as a rookie
no stats worth noting as a rookie
games = 11
rec = 37
rec yds = 359
avg yds/rec = 9.7
rec TD = 1
kick returns = 11
return yds = 241
avg yds/return = 21.9
long = 32
games played = 16
rec = 36
rec yds = 432
avg yds/rec = 12.0
rec TD = 5
Is Edwards a project? Is he dangerous? I'm sure we all agree and say yes to these questions. Will he be an Eric Crouch? Let me be the first to say I hope not and do not think so. I originally thought Crouch had issue's with desire, but after reading up on these guys, I saw that Crouch's problem was that he wanted to play QB and was not a willing or motivated WR. Armanti's humility and team attitude has already been established with his willingness to play any position we ask (QB [unlikely except for gadget plays], WR, Wildcat RB, PR, KR), so I do not see the Crouch comparison to be as closely related as the other guys mentioned.
I am smart enough to realize my bias toward optimism, so I know he could flop and be a bust. With that said, I see OVERALL production when I look at the above players WHO GOT AN OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY. We all seem to consider Dwayne Jarrett a bust, but has he had a chance in the games? No, not really. Is that Jarrett's fault? Probably. Pat White is considered a QB by the Dolphins, thus not a true comparison, in my opinion. Brad Smith has not really done much to speak about in his career. Edelman probably would not have been a thought in anyone's head if Welker did not get hurt. Cribbs has not had any real career as a WR. However he is a stud on special teams. Randle El is an explosive athlete who was dynamic because he had the privilege to play under a creative offensive coordinator with the Steelers (Whisenhunt).
One of the arguments against Edwards is that he has no experience running routes, catching the ball, or returning kicks. Well I would ask those same people a simple question. Can you show me when any of the above players experienced doing those things in college? I could not find any stats on Cribbs return game at Kent St. I also could not find Randle El's extensive receiving game at Indiana. I am not saying it isn't their. What I'm saying is I could not find it.
After looking at the previously mentioned players, I see Armanti's success with the Panthers (or in the NFL in general) boiling down to these factors:
1. Will he see the field/get an opportunity?
2. Will Davidson be creative enough to use his skill set?
3. Will he have any serious injuries that keep him off the field on Sunday's?
It seems that the Panthers like Armanti's skill set since they targeted him and gave up so much for him. If that is true, then it makes sense that they will give him plenty of opportunity. Thus answering question #1, hopefully.
Davidson had Cribbs in Cleveland, but I cannot recall or find anything that would suggest any creative play calling with Cribbs other than kick returns. I see it as unlikely because of Fox's coaching style. However it is still possible considering they drafted him above some other quality players who specialized as a WR's. By that, one could speculate that they want to use him in different ways. Question #2 to be determined.
Injuries are a given in the NFL. There are things people can look at to give an educated guess as to someone being an injury concern. While Edwards has had some issues with injuries at App St, he still managed to play much of the time. His senior year he missed 2 games due to injuries, including a freak lawn accident before the year, in which he cut his foot and missed the first game of the season (ECU). He also had a knee scope as a result of a knee and hip injury that kept him out of the regular season finale against Western Carolina. This injury was said to limit his mobility the rest of the season leading to some poor play. His Junior year, 2008, he missed 1 game, which I think was due to injury. His Sophomore year, 2007, he missed 4 games, which I think was due to injury. His Freshman year, 2006, he played in every game. With the nature of the NFL, anyone could get a serious at any point. So question #3 remains to be seen.
Will Armanti be like any of the players above? We'll see. I think the best case scenario is he is like a Randle El. The worst case scenario, Brad Smith. I look at Armanti Edwards as a versatile offensive weapon who COULD have success in the NFL in MANY different areas. Whether or not he is deemed worthy of a 2011 second round pick will not be known until several years down the road. Keep in mind Edwards had more passing yards than any of the above players (close to twice as much as Pat White), comparable rushing yards with any of the above players (Pat White had the most with 4,480 rushing yards and Edwards had 4,361). Either way, he is a Panther and i will support him as much as I can. One last thought. Steve Smith is not getting any younger and yes Edwards is a project. Maybe the Panthers are looking at Edwards as the future at the WR position?