A little over a year ago, former Kentucky safety Mike Edwards had a fairly significant NFL Draft decision to make. After three solid seasons of eligibility as a Wildcat, Edwards was considered a consensus mid-round draft pick. Scouts liked him, with one team even telling the 5-foot-10 standout they were willing to take a shot on him late in the third round, but no one was going to reach on him in the first or second round like he had hoped.
He was certainly going to get drafted, but with room to move up and Kentucky football seemingly right on the cusp of something special, the intrigue to return for one final season was there. He was also just one semester away from a degree, something his mom had been wanting from him his whole life.
Right in the midst of the NFL Draft process over a year later, Edwards feels he couldn’t have been happier with his decision to return to school.
“I felt that I would definitely get drafted, but not as high as I wanted to be,” he said at his Pro Day this morning. “So I wanted to come back and build something great with this team, and I’m glad I did. We had a great season, one of the best Kentucky has ever had. Another one of the main reasons I came back was to graduate, obviously. And I feel like I did all three of those things: graduate, have a great season, and improve my draft stock.”
Mike Edwards with a 37-inch vertical at UK Pro Day. Very, very impressive. pic.twitter.com/V4GPYwp7kN
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) April 8, 2019
Scouts from the Browns, Jaguars, Lions, Raiders, Seahawks, Broncos, Chargers, Jets, Bengals, Titans, Redskins, and 49ers, among others, were in attendance to see both Edwards and former Kentucky tight end CJ Conrad work out and participate in testing.
And according to the self-described “Honey Badger,” if you take away the minor hamstring tweak he suffered during the drill portion of the day, it was a performance he was proud of.
“I think I did good, could’ve done better,” he said. “I tweaked my hamstring a little bit running the last 40-yard dash, but nothing major. I wanted to do the shuttle, I feel that that’s one of my best drills, but I feel like I showed enough. People question my speed, I showed them my speed. Showed them I could jump a little bit. But definitely my position drills, one of my biggest (strong suits), I feel like I did well at that. Just tried to impress some teams out there.”
Going into the event, Edwards told KSR that a sub-4.5 40-yard dash time was his realistic target. After making that happen countless times over the past few weeks while training, anything starting with the numbers 4.4 would have made him happy.
The school released an unofficial time of 4.5 seconds in both runs for Edwards, while a few NFL scouts in attendance hit the stopwatch at a smooth 4.44 seconds.
“I was a little nervous to do my 40, that’s what everybody wanted me to run,” he said. “But I treated it like an actual game, like I go out there every Saturday. I did that, and I feel like I crushed the 40. (It ended up being) like a 4.4, 4.4-something.”
Edwards told the media afterward that former Kentucky cornerback Lonnie Johnson, who a ran a 4.39 himself at Pro Day back on March 22, made a bet with him about his running time as an added piece of motivation. In an early morning wakeup call, Johnson told Edwards that if he could break his target sub-4.5 speed, he would buy him a meal at Skyline Chili – Edwards’ favorite restaurant – after the event.
If not, Edwards had to pay for a meal by himself.
“(Johnson) called me at like 2 o’clock in the morning, and I was like “Dude, I’m trying to get ready, trying to sleep.” But he got me pumped up, said, “If you run a 4.4, I’ll buy you Skyline. If you don’t run a 4.4, you’ve got to buy your own Skyline. You already know I had to run a 4.4 then, so I ran a 4.4.”
Mike Edwards 40-yard dash at UK Pro Day: 4.44 pic.twitter.com/WfhRJOvAdS
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) April 8, 2019
With a 40-time he was satisfied with and a plate of Skyline to look forward to, Edwards said that he has a long list of teams with solid interest in calling his name when the NFL Draft rolls around later this month.
“They all come out, it’s about the same for everyone,” he said. “But the Chargers and the Chiefs, all the AFC West teams, they’ve been following me consistently since my sophomore year. And after today, I feel like that’s going to help with notoriety, more exposure.”
When asked about his upcoming visits, Edwards said a pair of NFC teams are bringing him in over the next two weeks.
“I go out to Seattle on Thursday, and then the Giants the following Saturday or something like that,” he said. “But there’s a few of them coming up that I know of so far.”
After an injured hand kept him out of the NFL Combine and UK’s first Pro Day back in March, Edwards believes his performance today was significant for his draft stock.
“Before this day, I feel like I was going in the fourth round, maybe,” he said. “Third or fourth round. But after today, I definitely feel like I improved it a round or two.”
He likely won’t hear his name called when the NFL Draft opens on Thursday night, but there is a significant chance we’ll be seeing the Honey Badger walk across the stage on day two.