After an injury-laden, four-year career at Stanford without a winning season, quarterback Trent Edwards is likely to be one of the first five quarterbacks selected in the 2007 National Football League Draft.
Edwards was a stellar high school quarterback on an exemplary squad. During his junior and senior years at Los Gatos High School in Los Gatos, Calif., the team finished 26-0 and won consecutive Central Coast Section Division III championships. In both seasons, Edwards passed with remarkable efficiency. When he was a junior, in 2000, Edwards threw 29 touchdowns and four interceptions. He completed 78.1 percent of his passes and amassed 2,529 yards. When he was a senior, his numbers were similar. Again he tossed 29 touchdowns, this time with three interceptions. He racked up 2,535 yards and connected on 72.3 percent of his passes.
After redshirting as a freshman in 2002, Edwards began 2003 as backup to Chris Lewis. In the season opener against San Jose State, Stanford trailed 10-0 in second quarter. Edwards came off the bench and rallied the team to a 31-10 win. He threw for 278 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in this comeback, a game that would wind up accounting for most of his freshman year production. Though Edwards won the starting job for the rest of the season, he missed three games with injuries and barely played in two others. Overall, in eight games, he passed for 750 yards, completing a woeful 45.3 percent of his 170 passes. He had four touchdowns with nine interceptions, and Stanford finished 4-7. His primary injury came in season's fifth game against Washington State, a contusion in his throwing shoulder (right).
When he was a sophomore, Edwards had better luck with his health. He played in the first nine games, but missed the last two with an injured left shoulder. Stanford finished 4-7 again, and Edwards did not distinguish himself. He had three games with three interceptions. He completed 54.4 percent of his 274 passes, finishing with nine touchdowns, 11 interceptions and 1,732 passing yards.
In 2005, as a junior, Edwards played all eleven games and had his best season. Stanford had its best season with him too, going 5-6. All told, Edwards passed for 1,934 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He connected on 62.7 percent of his 268 passes. He also had his only 300-yard game as a collegian, against Arizona State in game six. While Edwards recaptured a measure of his high school efficiency, some of his statistics remained pedestrian. He wound up averaging 175.8 passing yards per game, surpassing 200 yards in a game only four times. Moreover, he was sacked 30 times.
The next season, Edwards' bad luck with injuries returned. He played in the first seven games but missed the last four with a right foot fracture. His passing numbers dipped dramatically. He tallied 1,027 yards, six touchdowns and six interceptions. He completed 60.3 percent of his 156 throws and was sacked 22 times. Stanford, for its part, slumped too, finishing 1-11.
In sum, Edwards' college resume consists of 35 games played, 36 touchdowns and 33 interceptions. He threw for 5,443 yards and completed 56.1 percent of his passes. He averaged 155.5 passing yards per game. Stanford's record in Edwards' four seasons was 18-31. Put another way, Edwards never played on a winning team or in a bowl game.
Edwards - who measures 6-foot-4 and weighs 224 pounds - has prototypical size. He runs a 4.8 40-yard dash. In workouts and in games, he has displayed a strong arm with a nice touch, especially when throwing from the pocket. His quick, compact throwing motion stands out too.
Edwards also gets high marks for brains and off-the-field merits. By all counts, he is a high-character leader capable of quickly absorbing a playbook. More importantly, his book smarts have translated to the game. When given time to scan the field from the pocket, he excels at diagnosing a defense, completing his progression reads and making the correct throw. In addition, his college coaching has some NFL pedigree. Starting in 2004, he worked under Walt Harris, who served as the New York Jets quarterback coach from 1992-94.
Edwards has a sketchy resume for a would-be second-round pick: 36 touchdowns and 33 interceptions in 35 games. Furthermore, those 35 games were hardly pressure cookers. It is arguable Edwards has not played in a meaningful game since high school.
What is more, Edwards was sacked often - 84 times - especially for a player whose calling cards are an efficient throwing motion and an adept interpretation of defenses. Such sack numbers are also disconcerting in concert with Edwards' injury history. Any team drafting him has to be leery of his fragility. If he struggled to endure a Pac-10 pounding, how will he hold up in the NFL?
How high Edwards goes may depend on whether teams consider him to be the third-best quarterback prospect - behind only Louisiana State's JaMarcus Russell and Notre Dame's Brady Quinn - or whether their draft boards also rank him behind Michigan State's Drew Stanton and/or Houston's Kevin Kolb.
Teams who have ranked Edwards highly may take him in the early part of the second round, especially if they covet a quarterback prospect and opted to bypass Russell or Quinn in Round 1. Such teams could include the Oakland Raiders, the Detroit Lions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneer, the Cleveland Browns and the Chicago Bears, all of whom pick between 33-37 overall. Other possible destinations include the Miami Dolphins (who pick 39th) and the Minnesota Vikings (40th).
Edwards could also go in the second or early third round to a team that has a few seasons to develop a pocket passer. Such teams include the St. Louis Rams (52nd), the Seattle Seahawks (55th) and the Philadelphia Eagles (57th).