and Allen Wilson - NEWS SPORTS REPORTERS Three of Trent Edwards' four seasons as the quarterback for Stanford University were shortened by injury.
That didn't diminish the respect Buffalo Bills quarterback coach Turk Schonert had for Edwards.
"People talk about him being injury-prone," Schonert said after the Bills drafted Edwards in the third round. "When I met him at the combine I shook his hand and congratulated him on how many games he actually did play. He got hit that much. They were a bad football team."
Edwards battled through adversity in college but he steps into what looks like a good situation in Buffalo. The Bills have only two NFL quarterbacks on their roster, and they had a need for a young developing passer.
Why did they use a third-round pick on Edwards? The Bills said he was much more highly rated than anyone else on their board when they made the 92nd overall pick. There already had been 16 receivers taken when the Bills made their third-round pick. The top nine cornerbacks were off the board. California cornerback Daymeion Hughes may have been the next best choice for the Bills. He went 95th to the Colts.
ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper had Edwards going at the top of the second round -- 34th overall. The Dallas Morning News rated him 37th overall. Mike Mayock of the NFL Network rated him 50th overall.
"He was a guy you didn't expect to see around at this point in the third round," said Bills scout Terry Wooden. "He was a guy we couldn't pass up."
"He was in our top three or four quarterbacks," Schonert said.
Bills coach Dick Jauron stressed that the selection was no commentary on Bills starter J.P. Losman.
"J.P. is our guy," Jauron said. "We believe you need depth at that position. We just like the competition behind him for the Nos. 2 and 3 spots. We need that depth."
Craig Nall, the Bills' No. 2 QB, still must prove he can stay healthy, in addition to producing on the field. But Losman still must prove he is a playoff-caliber quarterback, too. If either Losman or Nall falters, Edwards offers a talented option. If Losman and Nall both play well, then Edwards gives the team an asset they might be able to turn into trade bait down the road.
Edwards won only 10 of his 31 starts at Stanford. He was sidelined after seven games as a senior when he broke a toe in his right foot.
But NFL teams love quarterbacks with good measurable qualities. Edwards has classic size -- he's 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds -- and a cannon for an arm.
"He's got size, and he's got a good arm," Schonert said. "He makes the throws that we have to make in our system. He fits our system. He has very good pocket awareness. He finds check-downs. A lot of quarterbacks don't. They take off running. They don't have the poise or pocket presence to find those guys, and he does. He can make all the throws. He's accurate, and he's a cerebral guy. He understands coverage concepts and protection concepts."
Edwards completed 62.7 percent of his passes as a junior and 60.3 percent as a senior. He finished with 36 career TD passes and 33 interceptions.
"He was playing with young receivers, and for the most part he was running for his life," Wooden said.
When Pat Hill became Fresno State's football coach, he adopted the motto "Anytime, anywhere." The Bulldogs played a lot of major college powers, but always showed up to play no matter how tough the opponent or venue was.
That philosophy was drilled into running back Dwayne Wright, and it will come in handy in his quest to make it in the NFL.
One day after taking Marshawn Lynch in the first round, the Bills used their fourth-round pick on Wright. He joined what is suddenly a crowded backfield that includes veteran holdovers Anthony Thomas, Shaud Williams and Fred Jackson.
"I believe that I fit in well," Wright said during a conference call Sunday. "I love competition. Coming out of Fresno State, we're taught to play anywhere, anytime. That's going to push me to play harder. I've been through so many obstacles. So this will be just another test to succeed."
Wright passed a major test by coming back from a torn patella tendon in his left knee two games into the 2004 season. But after sitting out the following year, he returned with a vengeance in 2006 by rushing for 1,462 yards (including a school-record 292 against Louisiana Tech) and 11 touchdowns. His average of 121.8 yards was sixth best in the nation. He also was the Bulldogs' second leading receiver with 29 catches.
Wright was the lone bright spot on a 4-8 Fresno State team that lacked the passing game to keep defenses honest and the defense to keep the scores close enough to continue running the ball.
"Obviously anytime somebody's been injured early in their career you want to see how they come back from that," said Bills scout Marc Ross. "He had a strong season this year. Even when Fresno, which was highly rated going into the season and then they went down losing games, he was the one guy that was playing and running hard throughout the season until the last game. To his credit, he kept fighting and trying to get the job done."
In addition to his competitiveness, the Bills like Wright's maturity (he's married with two children). He also passes the eyeball test. At 5-11 1/2 , 228, he is a prototype power back that runs with a physical style.
"He can move the pile and he's a good runner," Bills running backs coach Eric Studesville said. "He's a solid player all around. He does everything well and is physical. We think that he's going to be good for what we're looking for."
It remains to be seen if John Wendling can play in the NFL, but he sure can jump. During an offseason workout last year, the Wyoming safety took one step and jumped over a 66-inch hurdle (that's 5 feet, 6 inches). The incredible feat was captured on video tape.
"That was something my weight coach came up with," said Wendling, whose official vertical leap was measured at 38 1/2 inches at the NFL Scouting Combine. "We used to do a lot of vertical work. Obviously you're a little competitive in the weight room and he started raising it up a little higher to see who could get the highest and I ended up getting to where I was getting up pretty high. So one day, coach said, 'We're going to get that on film to see how high you can get.' It happened to go that way and it worked out really well."
There is no question the 6-1, 222-pound Wendling is a great athlete (he also runs a sub-4.5-second 40-yard dash). The question is whether his athleticism will translate to the football field.
"In talking to coaches a lot about this kid, he's got some physical talent," said Bills scout Brad Forsyth. "He might not have been as productive as those athletic numbers showed. But what they told me is that they really relied on this guy to do a lot of things in their defense. They changed up so many things on this guy from week to week they said he just couldn't get comfortable back there. They really made him think too much. They will tell you it was really their fault for just not letting this guy play football."
The Bills hope to get the most out of Wendling, who started 37 of 47 career games at free and strong safety. He finished with 259 tackles, seven interceptions, six forced fumbles and two recoveries (one returned for a touchdown). He also stood out on special teams on return and coverage units.
The Bills' final two picks, Boise State Derek Schouman and Oklahoma defensive end C.J. Ah You, will forever be linked in college football history. They were opponents in that memorable Fiesta Bowl won by Boise State in overtime, 43-42.
Bills General Manager Marv Levy coached Ah You's uncle, Junior, while coaching the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League in the mid-1970s. Junior Ah You also played for Bills scout Joe Haering, who was an assistant of the USFL's Chicago Blitz.
"He was probably the greatest defensive lineman in the history of the Canadian league," Levy said. "He was the Canadian league version of Bruce Smith. I hope [C.J.] has those genes."
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