After four years of patience it seems that the quarterback conversion project of Appalachian State alumni Armanti Edwards may have finally found what it takes to become a legitimate wide receiver in the NFL. He was taken in the third round in the 2010 NFL Draft, way early than many fans thought he would. The Panthers made this very bold move to keep the interested Miami Dolphins away from the homegrown talent. I personally always had a feeling it would take Edward’s a few years to actually gather the skill to play a position he had never tried before, and actually be able to produce at an NFL level. Unfortunately many Panthers fans did not see things the same way. Fans started saying why it was so hard when Josh Cribbs and Antwan Randle-El made very smooth transitions into the NFL? But every player is different; sometimes it takes other longer to adjust. He had never played wide receiver before coming to the NFL, and it seemed like all the Carolina homers expected so much out of him so early and it wasn’t fair. People seemed to think it would be easy for a young man coming out of a division II school that had never played the position before to just come in and start making an impact, but it doesn’t work like that. Not only does any small school player have to adjust to the level of competition that they deal with in the NFL, but also the fact that he was a small school player trying to adjust to the level of competition while trying to learn an all new position. So the fact that most fans were all but giving up on him was laughable to me, it was completely unfair to expect what people did from him so early. It seems after some hard work and determination that he is well on his way to a full adjustment and proving the doubters wrong. Fans just needed to be patient because this has always been a project.
Now after the first preseason game we have gotten a hint of what Armanti Edwards could do. He showed very much improved route running and of course catching the ball. I think the hiring or Ricky Proehl was the main factor in truly expanding Edwards’s potential and helping him reach it. He always had the athletic ability to play wide receiver and the speed to beat defensive backs, but he still lacked the experience at the position. Proehl pretty much broke Armanti down and reworked his mechanics and did his best to teach him the basics of being a receiver. The Panthers stuck with him and took this project seriously, and it seems like piece by piece Armanti has started putting everything he has learned together. Now with actual playing time it seems like he is finally going to get game time experience to take his development to the next level. He has performed so well this training camp that he is being heavily considered for the 3rd string wide receiver job that is standing wide open, and if his play last week is any testament to what he has the potential to do then that goal is not far from his reach.
It is a good thing the Panthers never gave up on their Armanti Project, because now we are actually seeing him play against other teams starters and seeing that he has what it takes to make plays and have an impact. It almost seems like his first three years were just for grooming and preparing him for this year. This is the year that he will finally get his chance show the fans of the Carolina Panthers along with the coaching staff where his potential lies. While he seems to have found the wide receiver within himself and started putting it all together, I don’t think we have seen his best yet. This will be his first year of actual playing time and with actual playing experience his skills as a receiver will grow along with every learning curve. From here on out he will be learning things that only playing against opposing team defensive backs and playing in something other than a practice jersey will teach you. This project is far from over and I believe the Panthers still have more talent to unlock.