‘All I need is a chance’: Evrett Edwards’ journey to the NFL

Iowa State defensive back Evrett Edwards runs for a dropped ball during a game against Kansas on Oct. 14. Cyclones defeated Kansas 45-0.

Aaron Marner

The journey to making an NFL roster can be incredibly tough. There are roughly 10,000 Division I FBS players on scholarship in college football, almost all of which share the same NFL dream.

But only 256 players will be selected in this month’s NFL Draft. Wide receiver Allen Lazard figures to break Iowa State’s three-year draft drought, but for some players, the path to the NFL isn’t as glorious. They may never hear their name called on Draft day and their only chance to earn a roster spot is through training camp.

One of those players fighting for his NFL dream is Evrett Edwards.

Edwards, who played two seasons at Duke before playing at Iowa State from 2016-17, has spent the last few months working out in Las Vegas in preparation for his professional career.

He returned to Ames for Iowa State’s pro day, which was a nerve-wracking experience.

The pro day drills don’t always tell the full story, which can cause some anxiety for players. A fast 40-yard dash time is great, but it’s rare for a football player to be in a straight sprint for that distance during a game. Players often avoid those if they can — Lazard, for example, didn’t participate in the 40-yard dash, bench press or vertical jump at pro day.

But Edwards didn’t have that luxury.

“I was very excited to be done with that and do something I actually feel comfortable doing on a daily basis,” Edwards said. “So when we got to position drills I was pretty excited and I felt that I did pretty well there.”

Edwards played in all 24 regular season games for Iowa State over the last two seasons, recording 103 tackles. He picked off one pass in a Cyclone uniform — against current NFL quarterback Pat Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Edwards and fellow defensive back Kamari Cotton-Moya have gone through the process on a similar path. Both have gone through the same workouts, just in two different cities.

“Just to be back with the guys, that was very exciting,” Edwards said. “Just warming up and talking to each other and going through the steps, having somebody who was familiar with what I was trying to accomplish… I felt like that made the atmosphere a bit more relaxing.”

As far as the NFL goes, Edwards hasn’t been too high on most draft boards. He said he’s heard his best chance is the last day of the Draft, which consists of the final four rounds. Even then, Edwards’ best shot is probably free agency after the Draft.

Last year, five Cyclones — Jhaustin Thomas, Jomal Wiltz, Nigel Tribune, Nick Fett and Demond Tucker — signed with teams after going undrafted. Edwards may be the next in line.

“I feel that I can be a coach on the field,” Edwards said. “I feel that I demonstrated that in my time at Iowa State… I also understand that coming in, I’d have to learn the ropes first.

“The first thing you need to do is understand the personalities and how to communicate with people. Learn about them individually before you can lead. That’s what I’d like to do if I got the opportunity to be a part of an NFL secondary.”

At Iowa State, Edwards was a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. As a senior, he ranked seventh on the team in tackles, eighth in tackles-for-loss and was one of seven Cyclones to force a fumble.

Recording those kinds of numbers from the safety position isn’t very common from the secondary, which shows some versatility. Cornerback Brian Peavy was the only other secondary member to force a fumble, and only two of the seven players with more tackles-for-loss than Edwards were in the secondary.

He was instrumental in some of the biggest games of the season, such as his 10 tackles (third on the team) in an overtime loss to Iowa, and his nine tackles (tied for most on the team) and a forced fumble in a final-possession loss to Oklahoma State.

He hopes those performances don’t go unnoticed at the next level. 

“I’m just looking to get my shot,” Edwards said. “All I need is a chance. If I get a chance, I’m a happy guy.”