The Carolina Panthers have traded back into the third round at the 89th spot to select...Armanti Edwards?
Yes, you heard correctly. A player projected to land somewhere around the fifth or sixth round has been selected with a third round pick that cost the Panthers a second round selection in the 2011 draft.
After what had been an overall successful day for the Panthers, who snagged quarterback Jimmy Clausen with the 48th overall pick and wide receiver Brandon LaFell with the 78th pick, the Panthers have again shipped off a high-round pick in a future draft to select a player available at the present moment. Last year it was defensive end Everette Brown, who was picked after the Panthers traded this year's first round selection to San Francisco.
Brown will now be expected to fill the shoes of the departed Julius Peppers, who landed in Chicago via free agency earlier this offseason, a scenario that will, fairly or unfairly, cause Brown to be seen as the 17th overall pick in this year's draft.
While that is a story line who's ending has yet to be written, there is good reason to believe Brown will eventually be able to live up to that billing. After all, he was projected to go in the first round of last year's draft. The situation at hand now for the Panthers involves a move that arguably didn't have to be made.
According to CBSSports.com, Edwards was the 20th ranked wide receiver entering the 2010 NFL Draft, and ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper has said he expected Edwards to go in the fourth or fifth round. Other outlets had Edwards ranked anywhere from the fourth round to an undrafted free agent.
Nonetheless, the Panthers made a shocking move and traded a second round pick in next year's draft to the New England Patriots for the right to scoop Edwards up with the 89th overall selection. The move shocked everyone outside of the Panthers' circle of knowledge, including Edwards, who was unaware of the move and was not expecting to be drafted Friday night until he received a phone call from the 704 area code of Charlotte.
The player drafted is not where the problem lies in this situation; it's what the team gave up to get the player that is so puzzling. There is nothing to indicate that Edwards would not have been around for the Panthers' fourth round selection, the 112th overall pick, or that something couldn't have been worked out to get him later in the fourth round or even sometime in the fifth round. The price paid doesn't, at first glance, fit the product received.
Edwards was the quarterback for an Appalachian State team that won two national championships at the Football Championship Subdivision level, and took part in what is arguably the most incredible upset in college football history when his Mountaineers knocked off the Michigan Wolverines to start the 2007 season.
Edwards threw for over 10,000 yards and 74 touchdowns during his college career, and also rushed for over 4,300 yards and 64 touchdowns, twice eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark in both categories. He brings with him a reputation as a winner and a play maker, but will have to step up to the expectations that will follow him to Carolina given the nature of the deal made to get him.
Edwards will likely see time as a punt and kick returner right away for the Panthers, as that position has been pretty much a revolving rotation of experiments in the last couple of seasons. He could also see time at the slot receiver or in a Wildcat-type formation.