The unheralded Armanti Edwards has seemingly been on the cusp of making the roster since the Carolina Panthers drafted him three years ago.
While the odds are steep for the fourth-year pro, he greatly helped his cause by capturing the attention of Ron Rivera during minicamp. In fact, the Panthers head coach was impressed enough with the 25-year-old to call him the most improved player during last week's practices.
“Probably the guy who’s really improved the most during these OTAs and minicamp has been Armanti,” Rivera told the Charlotte Observer Thursday following the final session of mandatory minicamp. “He made a couple really nice plays, I know you guys saw today he made a couple big catches. His development has been really key for us as well.”
Edwards, who started four years at quarterback for Division I-AA Appalachian State, was ambitiously converted to wide receiver by the Panthers, who traded up to pick him in the third round of the 2010 draft.
Regrettably, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound South Carolina native has been a grave disappointment his first three seasons, failing to record a reception the first two. After such prolonged unproductiveness, the prevailing belief entering the offseason was that time had run out on the Edwards' experiment.
While earning the head coach's approval is a good sign for Edwards, competition is stiff at receiver. The Panthers will likely keep six wideouts – seven at the most – on the 53-man roster. Unfortunately for Edwards, four of those spots are already sealed up.
Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell are virtual locks for the No. 1 and 2 receiver positions. New arrivals Domenik Hixon and Ted Ginn Jr. will compete for the No. 3 role, leaving four receivers – Edwards, Kealoha Pilares, Joe Adams and David Gettis – vying for a probable two roster spots.