Behr: Edwards ran out of chances
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Edwards was released by the Panthers last week after a nondescript four-year career. The Panthers drafted Edwards in the third round of the 2010 NFL draft, after trading their No. 2 choice in the 2011 pick to New England for the chance.
Expectations were high on Edwards, the two-time Walter Payton Award winner at Appalachian State. Edwards was a quarterback who ran the ball like a running back.
But that's not the role he had with the Panthers. He was moved to receiver in his rookie season and did not catch a pass until 2012, when he caught five of them for 122 yards.
There will be debate among App State fans if Edwards got a fair shot at showing his skills either at quarterback or wide receiver.
Five catches in four seasons indicate he got more than his fair shot at receiver.
Receivers have come and gone with the Panthers during Edwards' tenure on the team. Two others were drafted with Edwards in 2010, including Brandon LaFell, who is the No. 2 receiver behind No. 1 Steve Smith.
When Ted Ginn Jr. was brought in this season, Edwards' days became limited.
Ginn, who has excellent speed, can return kickoffs and punts. He can also get open and catch the football.
Edwards struggled with all three.
There may be some truth to the idea that John Fox, the Panthers' head coach during Edwards' rookie season, was not pleased to have Edwards on the roster. Edwards was listed at 5-foot-11 and around 180 pounds while with the Panthers.
That makes him, in the traditional eyes of the NFL, too small to play quarterback. He isn't 6-5, 250 pounds and he doesn't have a rocket launcher for a left arm, though it's not exactly weak either.
Edwards was rarely active in his rookie season under Fox. One of the few games he was active, a home game against Chicago, Edwards took two snaps from center and a handful of plays at receiver.
He gained more yards, seven to be exact, at quarterback. It was out of the "Mountaineer" formation.
Edwards should feel lucky he didn't play quarterback in 2010 since the Panthers had 10 rookies and 21 players with two years or less playing experience.
Instead of Edwards, they went with Matt Moore, who was eventually benched in favor of Jimmy Clausen, who was a disaster on any scale in a season that was a 2-14 train wreck.
Clausen was awful and Moore was soon injured after returning to the starting lineup.
Then again, Edwards would have likely ended up in intensive care if he had played quarterback in 2010.
His size was an issue playing quarterback and I'll buy that argument to a point. Small quarterbacks of Edwards' skill set are rare, but not unheard of. Russell Wilson proved that a smaller quarterback can run a read-option offense in the NFL in Seattle.
But Pat White, a read-option quarterback out of West Virginia, has struggled to stay in the league.
Both aren't exactly towering. Wilson stands 5-11 and White is 6-0.
Edwards' chances to play quarterback vanished when the Panthers took Cam Newton with the top pick of the 2011 draft. Derek Anderson was brought it as the backup, giving the Panthers an experienced and traditional quarterback that was sorely missing in 2010.
Suddenly, any hope of Edwards playing quarterback diminished.
Edwards returned punts, but never really got going in that role. He returned kickoffs the same year that the NFL moved kickoffs from the 30-yard line to the 40 in order to cut down on kickoff returns.
Edwards' skills as a quarterback are ideal for the Canadian Football League, but he'll also have to take a hefty pay cut if he goes north. He's a four-year veteran, so there is the outside chance he'll hook on with another team.
If that happens, I hope he gets the opportunity to play, either at quarterback or wide receiver.