He might not be the biggest, he might not be the fastest, and he might be sponsored by Puma, but New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman has become quite the wide receiver in the NFL.
After a college career at Kent State where he played some quarterback for the Flashes, Edelman was picked as an ‘athlete’ in the 7th round of the 2009 NFL draft by the Patriots and has slowly been developing into one of the most coveted roles in league history — Tom Brady’s favorite target.
He played a pretty big role as a rookie on the Patriots, catching 37 passes and also contributing as a kick and punt returner. The Patriots have obviously felt very good about Edelman from the start, but I don’t think people realize just how valuable he has been to Tom Brady and this team in recent years.
In his Patriots career, he has scored 5 return touchdowns. He has caught 21 touchdown passes, and even had a year in 2011 when he made 18 tackles. We’ve seen Edelman playing defensive back for the Patriots when they were stricken by injuries, and we’ve seen him throw a pass in a playoff game that ended up being a touchdown. In fact, it was a 51-yard bomb for a score against the Ravens, a play that Baltimore fans would probably rather just forget about.
At this point, it’s clear to see that Edelman is one of the most criminally underrated all-around players in the NFL, and the Patriots have done an awesome job of maximizing his talent at literally every position they possibly could. While Edelman can do anything the coaches ask him to do, he’s obviously best at catching the ball and working the slot, where he has become a security blanket for Brady and has racked up 22 catches in the first 2 games of the season with a pair of touchdowns to go along with it.
He caught 11 balls in the first game against Pittsburgh, and followed it up with a duplicate performance against Rex Ryan’s Bills. Take a quick gander here at this route by Edelman in the red zone. He splits a double team and finds himself completely wide open.
In the Super Bowl last year, we saw how easy he made it look getting open from the slot position to put the Patriots in position to win the game.
This is just a heck of a play by a heck of a player, who is making a habit of doing these types of things in big situations. The Patriots placed a major vote of confidence in Edelman when they essentially ‘chose’ him over long-time Brady favorite Wes Welker, who went and signed with the Denver Broncos.
Over the long-term, that turned out to be the wise investment as Edelman has now blossomed into one of the best receivers in the league that no one talks about. He’s working the slot just like Welker used to, except he seems to play with more grit than Welker did. He has the quickness, he has the soft hands, and he knows how to get himself open.
This is a player that people should be talking more about but they don’t because he’s sort of overshadowed by Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady, which is understandable. He’ll just continue doing what he does best, and helping the Patriots win football games.
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