Heading into the draft, the Falcons boasted a putrid receiving core. Outside of Kyle Pitts, Atlanta’s pass catchers were headlined by a bunch of WR3s, at best. However, Terry Fontenot has been making moves.
Fontenot made Drake London the highest-drafted receiver, and expectations are sky-high for the former Trojan. He should be able to have an immediate impact, similar to Kyle Pitts last season. The Falcons will use London in condensed formations, on the boundaries, in motion, and everywhere in between. His ability to create yards after the catch will also open up a facet of Arthur Smith’s offense that wasn’t necessarily utilized with last year’s receiving core.
However, just London and Pitts as the team’s primary pass catchers wasn’t going to be enough. Atlanta still needed wide receiver depth. Fontenot elected to address the position by trading for former Raiders wideout Bryan Edwards, which cost the Falcons a measly fifth-round pick. I’ve talked extensively about the acquisition:
The Raiders made a blockbuster trade to acquire Davante Adams earlier this offseason, making Edwards expendable. The former third-round pick only recorded 11 receptions for 193 yards and one touchdown during his rookie season but had a much improved second year. Edwards totaled 34 receptions for 571 yards and three touchdowns last season.
He’s been underutilized in Las Vegas and will now look to break out in Atlanta, which is in desperate need of pass catchers. Taking a flyer on him makes sense for the Falcons. Edwards stands 6’3” and weighs 212 pounds, so it’s no coincidence Arthur Smith is interested. Terry Fontenot is assembling a basketball team for his head coach.
Edwards is currently in the third year of his four-year, $4.7 million rookie contract, so it’s a very affordable deal for Atlanta. Edwards is also familiar with Marcus Mariota, who is the assumed starter this season, as the two spent time in Vegas together. He’s got decent speed and the ability to threaten defenses after the catch — Smith clearly has a type.
Moreover, I’m not the only one high on Edwards’ potential in Atlanta. His former teammate, Darren Waller, has sung his praises as well. “I really like Bryan a lot just as a human being and as a football player,” Waller said in an interview with Austin Boyd. “(His) contested catch ability is elite, and I feel like he can only continue to grow as a player as he gets more and more opportunities — you see it in the games where he got opportunities.”
Despite never reaching his potential with the Raiders, the South Carolina product certainly flashed enough to interest Atlanta. A change of scenery could be exactly what Edwards needs to realize his potential. “A change of scenery — it can be one of the best things that can ever happen to you,” Waller said. “It’s not necessarily about what happens along the journey, it’s more so about your response to what happens. And I feel like he’s somebody that is mentally and physically capable of responding in a big way, and I’m excited to follow his career and see how it unfolds because I think great things are in store for him.”
He might not ever breakout, but he’ll certainly get his chance in Atlanta.