Former Richmond Spiders’ star Ben Edwards is back with the Giants after trying out for the team last offseason. Edwards sat out of football during the 2014 season as he recovered from an ACL injury, technically making 2015 his “rookie” season. He was invited as a tryout player to the Giants’ three-day rookie mini-camp before being offered a contract to stick around.
Undrafted free agents always face a steep climb to latch onto an NFL roster, but Edwards seems to have what it takes to at least warrant future consideration. Right now he has preformed like someone New York would love to have on their practice squad. He’s only 5’10” but has a muscular 197-pound frame and elusive quickness that reminds one of current Giants’ star, and former undrafted free agent, Victor Cruz.
Much like Cruz, Edwards is a catching machine who works primarily out of the slot. Both receivers use their quick feet to work routes underneath the defense and then accelerate up field for big gains. They are also crisp route runners who gained NFL attention for their versatility as punt returners. As of now, it seems if Victor Cruz is unable to return to the field by Week 1 than free agent signee Dwayne Harris will be next in line to take over the slot receiver role. However, don’t discount Edwards, as a potential candidate to challenge for looks at the position this offseason.
At Richmond the two-time First-Team All-CAA selection finished second all-time in career receptions (208), tied for sixth in career touchdown catches (15), and sixth all-time in receiving yards (2,202). Edwards as continued to exhibit the incredible hands that earned him his collegiate career accolades by not having dropped a single catchable ball thrown his way during OTAs.
He has also worked as punt returner after taking 22 career punt returns for 266 yards and 12.1 yards per return average in college. A jack-of-all-trades at Richmond, Edwards also had 48 career rushing attempts for 247 yards, 5.1 yards per carry average, and one touchdown.
There is a lot to like about Edwards from a production standpoint but he never tested well in combine situations. One simply cannot measure his on field motor, as he plays so much quicker and faster than his physical testing numbers would suggest. His chances of making New York’s final 53-man roster are slim; yet seeing how he performs in the preseason games with live contact will ultimately determine his fate with the team. Even if he finishes the preseason and training camp strong it will be a tall order to also overtake either Preston Parker, Corey Washington, or Marcus Harris for a roster spot when all of them have prior NFL experience. Ultimately Edwards should be an excellent practice squad candidate this season that could contribute more directly down the road.