Rookie free agent Patrick Edwards makes an impression

Posted May 13, 2012

Patrick Edwards has been underestimated his entire football career, so going undrafted a couple weeks ago didn’t faze him a whole lot.

Edwards, 23, was a walk-on at the University of Houston in 2007 and has the route memorized for the long road to success.

He was redshirted his first year, became a steady contributor as a redshirt freshman and earned a starting position as a sophomore. He ended his college career as one of the most decorated receivers in school history.

He holds the school and Conference USA records for career receiving yards (4,471) and 100-yard receiving games (17) and the school record for career touchdown catches (43).

The Lions jumped at the chance to sign him as an undrafted free agent immediately after the draft.

“He had about a million catches last year. When you looked at production – we talked about (Ryan) Broyles that way and how much production he had and what he did and how much we respect that – and we thought a lot of Patrick,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said Sunday.

“Honestly, we were very surprised he didn’t get drafted and he was a guy we went to work on right away right away as soon as that draft was over.”

Lions general manager Martin Mayhew made Edwards an immediate priority of his just minutes after the draft ended.

“He had (1,752) yards receiving last year, 19.7 yards average per catch and he’s going to be one of our free agents that’s really another talented offensive weapon,” Mayhew said after signing Edwards.

“He’s very fast. That Houston offense throws the ball around quite a bit. He was one of those run-and-shoot receivers. He caught like 89 balls last year, I think, so he caught a ton of balls. He’s been a three-year starter for them. He has over 4,500 yards in his career. He’s another guy who we think has a really good chance.”

But with numbers like those, why was Edwards a free agent after the draft in the first place?

“I tore my quad at the Senior Bowl and wasn’t 100 percent until about three weeks ago,” he said. “I wasn't able to do the combine and my Pro Day I was hurt and I couldn’t really run. I went out there and fought through everything and did as much as I could.”

Edwards ran 4.57 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his Pro Day in March and that scared teams away, considering he’s only 5-foot-9.

When healthy, Edwards runs closer to a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash, and that kind of speed was on display all weekend at the Lions rookie mini-camp in Allen Park.

With second-round pick Ryan Broyles not participating in the mini-camp as he still recovers from a torn ACL, Edwards stood out among the receivers.

He even had Lions receivers coach Shawn Jefferson sprinting down the field Sunday to congratulate him after making a terrific read on a deep touchdown catch from quarterback Kellen Moore.

“That the way to do it,” Jefferson shouted. “Now you got me out of breath.”

Edwards consistently got behind defenders all weekend and looked the most polished of all the receivers.

“I walked on in college and had to go out there and prove myself and I have the same mindset here,” Edwards said. “I’m just going out there trying to impress the coaches and get on the radar and make the most of my opportunity.”

Edwards returned two punts for touchdowns in college and that’s part of his repertoire as well. The Lions have been on the lookout for an additional return option to Stefan Logan and it's just another way Edwards could earn a roster spot.

He's certainly taken the road less traveled to get to where he’s wanted to go in his football career, so why should earning a spot on the Lions 53-man roster be any different?