Darron Edwards can clearly see his path to the NFL.
The former Dunbar star and Arkansas State cornerback probably won't be a first- or second-day draft choice next month. But after watching his good friend LaQuan Williams go from undrafted wide receiver to integral special teams player for one of the NFL's premier franchises, Edwards has a blueprint to follow.
"Just growing up with LaQuan, me and him have known each other since we were nine or 10 years old, playing at Northwood," Edwards said of his Pop Warner football days with the Ravens receiver. "Seeing guys you grew up with, coming from where he came from, it's definitely motivation. We have a really close circle. I just feel like it's an opportunity. I've been living by that since we graduated high school in 2006."
After a standout career at Poly, Williams went to Maryland as a defensive back before switching to offense and emerging in 2007 as a rising star at receiver with 15 catches for 217 yards. Over the next three years, Williams never topped that production. But he became an indispensable special teams player for the Terps, was a surprise selection to the Ravens' active roster, and appeared in 12 games as a rookie last fall.
Edwards, who signed with Williams' agent, Jason Sklar of AIM Sports Services, has an uphill climb to join his friend in the league. The former Poet says right now he's projected as a sixth- or seventh-round selection, if not undrafted altogether. But up until this point, the 5-foot-11, 183-pound cornerback has done everything he can to put himself in position to be drafted.
After two seasons at Butler Community College in Kansas, Edwards – a three-star prospect according to Rivals.com – moved on to Arkansas State and started every game at cornerback there in 2010. As a senior, Edwards recorded 49 tackles and three interceptions, earning second-team All-Sun Belt Conference honors for his efforts. The Red Wolves won the Sun Belt title and finished the season 10-3.
"Honestly, I always expect to win in any situation," Edwards said. "I knew as a junior, coming from junior college, the guys leading the team had a solid foundation. We just had awesome chemistry. There was a big difference in leadership from junior year to senior year. I knew we had the talent to get it done. Coach [Hugh] Freeze and the whole coaching staff led us and that helped us become special."
Edwards came back to Baltimore after the season and began training at TZ Sports in Eldersburg. His main goal right now is letting his agents handle his draft position, while he works on his 40 time. Edwards' top time is a 4.48, but he's hoping to lower that to a mid-4.4 during his Pro Day at Arkansas State on March 27. With two teammates -- linebacker Demario Davis and defensive back Kelcie McCray -- that earned invites to the NFL combine, Edwards should definitely have a chance at impressing several scouts next week at Arkansas State.
In the meantime, Edwards is focused on training and keeping up with other Baltimore guys hoping to get drafted. Edwards, Mississippi State offensive lineman James Carmon (City), Ole Miss defensive end Wayne Dorsey (Southwestern), Bowie State linebacker Delano Johnson (Dunbar) and San Jose State defensive back Brandon Driver (Parkville) – plus Williams and Green Bay Packers wide receiver Shaky Smithson (Douglass) – are like "one big fraternity. We all stay in contact and have regular talks about the ins and outs of trying to get to the next level."
In Williams, Edwards has a model for making it to the league. He'll do whatever it takes to follow in his friend's footsteps.
"It's a dream of mine to get drafted," Edwards said. "If all else fails, I'm a free agent and I'll be happy for the opportunity to work my way up. It's just an opportunity and a different route to get to where I'm trying to get. A shot is enough for me. But I would love to get drafted. It's always been a goal of mine, and I'm working toward that."