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Braylon Edwards: Number One With a Bullet

by Joe Grinwis
JetNation Columnist

Braylon Edwards believes in his heart that he can be the next Terrell Owens for the San
Francisco 49ers, current owners of the top pick in the April 3rd NFL Draft. That may be the case, but there is one thing that Terrell Owens has that Edwards has never had in his four year career at the University of Michigan: the me-first attitude. The only special treatment that Braylon has asked for is to have his jersey number switched from 80 to the Michigan’s vaunted # 1, previously worn by Anthony Carter, Desmond Howard, Derrick Alexander, and, then Braylon Edwards. Even then, as a young up and comer, he understood that he had to earn it that jersey before he could get it, and he did just that.

The #1 that Braylon Edwards wore after his sophomore season will be a role he will assume in the pros the first time he etsps foot on an NFL practice field–as the team’s Number One wideout– with a chance to become perhaps the Number One wideout in the entire league.

Unlike T.O., Braylon Edwards has never complained about the passes being thrown (or not thrown) his way, or about any individual accomplishments. He just plays football. Over his four year career at Michigan Braylon has put up numbers that have intrigued pro scouts enough that he is one of the four finalists to be taken at the top of the draft, Number One overall by the 49ers; something that ex-USC WR and Mike Williams has not earned, despite his remarkable accomplishments prior to being pushed out the door in 2003 by the NCAA. Williams, the number player overall on ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr’s board, had been in contention for that honor before Edwards ripped it away from him.

Here are a quick look at the numbers Edwards has put up in his college career:

2001: 3 receptions, 38 yards
2002: 67 receptions, 1035 yards, 10 TD
2003: 85 receptions, 1138 yards, 14 TD
2004: 97 receptions, 1330 yards, 15 TD

As you can see, Braylon has gotten better by the year. The most interesting fact behind those numbers is that, in his best year, his senior season, Michigan had a redshirt freshman, Chad Henne, starting. Henne, a strong-armed young QB, found a safety blanket in Williams, and Williams helped carry him, along with true freshman tailback Mike Hart, through what was, at times, a brutal season. But Edwards was there making big catches along the way.

Another thing Braylon Edwards has always been able to do is step up in the big game and at Michigan, that’s not just the Rose Bowl, it’s the Michigan – Ohio State game. In 2003 when the Buckeyes came to Ann Arbor, Edwards put up awesome numbers (7 receptions, 130 yards and 2 TD’s) to help the Wolverines on to victory. The next week Michigan played
soon to be Co-National Champ USC in the Rose Bowl, and even though Michigan was badly, beaten 28-14 (the score really didn’t indicate how bad a beating it really was) he still had 10 receptions for 107 yards. The man cannot be stopped. He is a freak of nature.

If there’s a knock on Braylon, though, it’s that his hands are not consistent enough. There were times when Edwards didn’t come up with some of the easy catches you could think he would make, but then again, doesn’t everybody have times like that? The thing with Edwards is that the next play he’d jump up and grab a one-handed touchdown for you–he’s just that kind of player. He may not have elite catching skills like Oklahoma’s Mark CLayton, be he has very good hands, and getting better.

He can be the physical possession receiver for you on one play, and turn around the next play and get open 50 yards downfield–Mike Williams can’t do that. He’s 6’3, 211 pounds and he ran the 40 at 4.48, which is a deadly combo.

Braylon has that burst of speed that can’t be taught when, after he catches the ball, he’s gone.

Even if San Francisco makes the mistake of not drafting Edwards at 1, he is a lock to be a top-4 pick in this draft. Many people believe that Mike Williams is going to be the better wide reciever in this draft. Well, you know what, this is one fan that doesn’t think that is going to happen. Braylon is right, he is the next T.O.. Mike Williams is on the record as saying that he won’t be like “Keyshawn, Randy or T.O.” Well, Mike, you’re completely correct, you won’t be as good as any of them.

You may bash a fan for saying this now, but five years down the road come talk to me when Braylon Edwards has been in a couple of Pro Bowls and Mike Williams is battling to keep his #2 spot on the Vikings WR depth chart.

Here he comes NFL fans, soon to be one of the best WR’s in the game, Mr. Braylon
Edwards.

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