I really like Armanti Edwards -- as a person, as a college legend at Appalachian State and as a role model.
I don't like him, however, as an NFL player, and I think it's time for the Panthers to give up the ghost on the Edwards experiment.
Our Joseph Person has a fine story on Edwards in today's newspaper, one that previews what could be Edwards' final snaps for Carolina in tonight's exhibition against Pittsburgh.
Edwards, in his third year, has worked hard. Unfortunately, I don't think he is ever going to be an NFL-caliber receiver. He might make the Panther team again this season -- a spot has opened up for at least the first six weeks since David Gettis has been slow to come back from injury -- but if so, he will be inactive every game unless Joe Adams gets hurt.
Rookie Joe Adams is a better punt returner than Edwards, and the Panthers have at least three players who are far better receivers (Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Louis Murphy).
Edwards was a risk when the Panthers drafted him in the third round in 2010 (giving up a second-round 2011 pick to do so), and it hasn't turned out well. He was one of GM Marty Hurney's second- and third-round misfires, like Everette Brown, Corvey Irvin, Dwayne Jarrett and Jimmy Clausen.
To give Hurney credit, his first-round picks have been remarkably good and now form the nucleus of the team (Newton, Stewart, Beason, Kuechly, D. Williams, Thomas Davis and Jordan Gross among them). He has not done as well in the rounds after that (although Ryan Kalil and Charles Johnson were second- and third-round picks in the Panthers' 2007 draft -- one of the best in club history).
Edwards was a noble attempt. But his incredible elusiveness in college just hasn't translated to the pros. He looks small on the field and just not that fast anymore.
Edwards ultimately reminds me of Nick Maddox, who was the best high school running back I ever saw, but also somewhat slight of stature compared to NFL players. Maddox's phenomenal career at Kannapolis's A.L. Brown High never quite translated at Florida State, when the linebackers on the other team suddenly could keep up with him.
Edwards was better than most anyone he played in college -- including the Michigan defense in that famous App State upset -- but the speed caught up to him in the pros and he just hasn't found his niche.
I'm sorry he hasn't. Armanti is a great guy. I've known numerous fans who have had personal contact with him and come away better for the experience.
But let's be honest -- he's not going to help the Panthers if he stays on the roster this season. Better to give that roster spot to someone who can.
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