Braylon Edwards Should Be Labeled An NFL Bust
Truth be told, most first-round draft picks in the NFL turn out to be busts. There are different kinds of busts, too. Guys who get singled out for it every year right around the time the NFL Draft gets ready to kick off (what up, Ryan Leaf?). Guys who aren’t total busts but who never live up to all the hype surrounding them (hello, Alex Smith!). And then, there are guys who put together relatively solid careers but who never turn out to be the special players that NFL analysts project them to be.
Add New York Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards to that last list. It’s easy to forget that, once upon a time, Edwards was a highly-touted prospect out of the University of Michigan drafted third in the 2005 NFL Draft who was set to be to the Cleveland Browns what LeBron James was to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Tall and fast, Edwards had what most NFL analysts call “a nose for the end zone,” meaning he didn’t just catch deep passes, he also turned them into points.
But somewhere along the line, Edwards dropped the ball—both figuratively and literally. Since setting franchise records for the Browns in 2007 by amassing 1289 receiving yards and scoring 16 touchdowns and leading the team to a 12-4 record, he’s been nothing short of a headache for both of the teams he’s played on.
After publicly betting Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps that he’d catch 17 touchdown passes for the Browns in 2008, he led the league in dropped passes with 16 and only managed to register three TD passes that season as the Browns went just 4-12—a huge disappointment when you think about the fact the team went 10-6 during Edwards’s Pro Bowl 2007 season. In 2009, his production was just as poor and—after an incident in which Edwards punched a friend of LeBron’s outside a nightclub in Cleveland in early October 2009—the Browns traded Edwards to the New York Jets.
Edwards wisely used the fresh start in New York to step his game up. He had 35 catches for the Jets last season, racked up 541 yards total receiving and caught four touchdowns. Coming into this season, the Jets expected him to be even better and, though he struggled in the first game of the season, he showed glimpses of brilliance Sunday afternoon against the New England Patriots when he caught five passes for 45 yards and a touchdown in the Jets’ victory over their archrival.
Reason to celebrate, right? Except it appears Edwards did a little too much celebrating. Early Tuesday morning, he was pulled over in his Range Rover and given a Breathalyzer test. He blew a 0.16 and was arrested for DWI, a charge that’ll likely earn him at least a fine and possibly a suspension from the Jets.
Edwards had a chance to be a special player in the NFL. With his ideal frame, his trusty hands and his ability to create separation between himself and defenders, he could have propelled himself to greatness. Instead, he continues to make headlines for what he does in the police blotter instead of what he does in the box score. Dropping the ball is a part of the game, but dropping the ball this many times is simply inexcusable. Is it too early to label Braylon Edwards a bust?