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Houston, We Have An Option: Patrick Edwards

2012 Ticketcity_0246

There’s been a bit of a buzz lately about Patrick Edwards.

Edwards, from the University of Houston, led the NCAA with 20 TDs in 2011. He also finished second in the NCAA with 1752 receiving yards. After going undrafted, the Lions signed him after the 2011 draft, and he had a promising training camp until he was injured. Does he have a legitimate chance to contribute this year? Let’s take a look.

The Resume

We’ve already mentioned the prodigious numbers Edwards put up at the University of Houston. Using the RotoViz College WR Stats App, I pulled the WR numbers for the 2011 season, against defenses rated 50 or better. Edwards ranks impressively.

Player TD TD RT PCT YTG YPT YDS TRG
Patrick Edwards 1st overall 4th overall 2nd overall 2nd overall 2nd overall 11th overall

On a percentile basis, here’s how Edwards compares to the 2693 receivers in this data set.

Player TD TD RT PCTYTG YPT YDS TRG
Patrick Edwards 99th 92nd 93rd 93rd 99th 99th

 

The Comparables

Using the RotoViz College Career Graphs app, I compared Edwards to a few smaller wide receivers recently covered on RotoViz.

PLAYER HEIGHT WEIGHT 40 TIME
Patrick Edwards 5’9” 175 4.48 pro day, but reports indicate 4.3 speed when healthy *
Aldrick Robinson 5’10” 181 4.35
Kealoha Pilares 5’10” 200 4.42
Randall Cobb 5’10” 192 4.46
Tavon Austin 5’9” 174 4.28

*  Edwards was reportedly still recovering from an injury at his pro day. I’m not sure if the 4.3 time I’ve seen credited to him is valid, but there were several reports from Lions training camp last year indicating he out-ran DB Dwight Bentley, who clocked a 4.42.

How does Edwards fare against these players? Let’s look at the Heat Map.

 edwardsone

Edwards is competitive across the board, trailing significantly only in red zone TD rate. Looking more closely, he performs strongly on the Yards/Target measure. His second-best season is comparable to the best season for the other four comparable players.

Edwards also compares favorably to similarly-sized wide receivers drafted in the 6th and 7th rounds since 2009.

Patrick Edwards 5’9” 175 4.48 *
Ronald Johnson 5’10” 185 4.46
Antonio Brown 5’10” 186 4.56
Kyle Williams 5’10” 188 4.4
Tim Toone 5’10” 185 4.43
Sammie Stroughter 5’10” 189 4.54

 

Here’s the Heat Map.

edwards2

Edwards bests the field in Yards per Target, but trails in both Market Share of Yards and Red Zone TD Rate.

Finally, here’s how Edwards stacks up against his competition on the Lions.

Patrick Edwards 5’9” 175 4.48
Ryan Broyles 5’10” 192 4.57
Nate Burleson 6’1” 197 4.51
Corey Fuller 6’2” 204 4.43

Here’s the Heat Map.

edwards3

Edwards more than holds his own here as well. Broyles gets the nod in Market Share of Yards, and Fuller has an impressive Red Zone TD Rate, but Edwards again leads the way in Yards per Target, and matches the others in Market Share of TDs.

The Opportunity

Is Patrick Edwards a “great” WR prospect? No. He went undrafted, perhaps due to injury (tore his quad at the Senior Bowl), size (Edwards is 5’9”, 175 lb), and competition (Conference USA) concerns. He was injured in training camp last year, and is also older (24), which might be an issue.

But he does appear to have the talent to contribute. In Detroit, he also has the opportunity. Other than Calvin Johnson, Detroit’s receiving situation is murky. Burleson and Fuller are taller and heavier, but not any faster. Broyles is bigger but slower, a year older, and is coming off his second torn ACL in as many years. Fuller is a raw rookie, with limited college experience (but also potential upside; he could be Edwards’ biggest competition for playing time). Burleson is recovering from a broken leg, and is 31 years old. Add in the fact that the Lions need help in the return game, which is something else Edwards can do well, and the opportunity is definitely there.

Detroit is a high-volume passing offense, with a middling defense. In other words, Detroit needs to score points to win games. Consider Patrick Edwards a late round or waiver-wire stash in Dynasty leagues. Edwards is undrafted at the moment, meaning he’s a waiver-wire pickup. With Broyles being drafted as the 54th WR, 124th overall, Edwards presents a no-risk, moderate upside arbitrage play.

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