Before I get started, let me begin by saying that Armanti Edwards is one of my favorite college football players of all time. As a teenager, I spent many-a-weekend in boone visiting friends and not getting into trouble. For those of us who are familiar with Boone, NC, you know there is only one place to be on a fall, saturday afternoon in this quaint college town. The mountaineers won back to back to back National Championships in 2005, 2006 and 2007, and Edwards was an integral part of the second two. Over the course of his career, he amassed over 10,000 passing yards and over 4,000 on the ground. His college career eventually had to end though, and I couldn't wait to see what he could do on Sunday's.
On April 23rd 2010, Marty Hurney made what is in my mind his biggest mistake as a GM, drafting Armanti 89th overall. My knee-jerk reaction was to hoot and holler in celebration. It wasn't until hours later that I realized the details of what had actually transpired. We had taken a player with infinite athletic potential and decided we were going to turn him into something that he just flat out wasn't. More after the jump...
Realistically, one third round pick wasn't too big of a risk considering the kind of upside Edwards possessed. As we are all aware of now, in trading up we gave away 2011's second round pick. I'm not quite sure it is possible to express how unfortunate that is considering the pick we traded end up being 33 overall. Two years removed from the 2010 draft, we can now say we spent the 33rd overall pick on a player from a small school with the expectation of turning him into a specialist. As if transitioning from the FCS to the NFL wasn't already a daunting enough task, he was now being asked to learn a completely new position, against the highest level of competition imaginable.
Two years later this is where we are at in his development, 34 career punt returns for an average of 5.2 yards. To give you a reference point, the 31st ranked returner in the league averaged 8.1. I understand he is developing, but in my opinion punt returners are born, not created with coaching. In Edwards' defenense, he hasn't coughed up a fumble on a return yet, so at least he has a leg up on Mike Goodson. I think it is safe to say that unless he has improved drastically in his return abilities, his job will be given to our new 4th round pick Joe Adams.
Now that we have covered Armanti as a returner, lets dive into his identity as a receiver. Put plainly, if Armanti is going to occupy one of our 53 roster spots, his only chance is to make it as a wideout. To date, Edwards hasn't really even seen the field in this role. That says the coaches still arent comfortable with putting him out there with any regularity. I know he possesses the speed and agility neccessary to become at least a serviceable receiver in the NFL.
In closing, the circumstances under which Edwards was drafted weren't ideal. I knew as soon as I heard what we gave up there was going to be an unfair amount of pressure on him to produce and do it quickly. Clearly he has not lived up to expectations thus far, but please don't let the previous coaching staff's foolish decisions sour you on this talented young man. All I know is that we have recently signed a plethora of talented young receivers, and this new coaching staff has no obligations to continue the experiment. With all of this young talent coming up the ranks, Armanti will be fighting just to make the team. Who knows? Maybe this competition will be the motivation he needs to become the star we know he is capable of being. I for one, sincerely hope it is.