When players are seventh round draft picks in the National Football League, they tend to have limited chances of making of making the 53-man roster. The New England Patriots used a seventh-round pick in 2009 on wide receiver Julian Edelman. But for Edelman, the transition to being an NFL wide receiver was more difficult due to the fact that he was a college quarterback at Kent State University. At 6’0″, 198 lbs., it was going to be tough for Edelman to prove his worth in the NFL as a quarterback; so he went to work on learning the necessary skills to be a wide receiver. Edelman came to New England at a time when the team had wide receiver Wes Welker who was coming off of his second consecutive 100-plus reception season. Welker would once again led the NFL in receptions in 2009 with 123 while Edelman only totaled 37 receptions for 359 yards and a single touchdown grab as he was primarily used on special teams. Edelman would continue to be a bit player in the Patriots offense over the next three seasons until he received his big break in 2013.
That year Welker left the Patriots to sign with the Denver Broncos. Edelman would have his finest season as a professional in 2013 as he recorded 105 receptions, 1,056 receiving yards and 6 receiving touchdowns as he became one of the go-to-guys for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. But Edelman and the Patriots would go on to lose to Welker’s Broncos in the AFC Championship Game.
In 2014, Edelman’s numbers were slightly down, but he stepped up when it mattered the most. New England was in the midst of a seven-game winning streak and in Week 9, Edelman went for 9 receptions, 89 receptions, a touchdown catch as the Patriots went through the Broncos 43-21. In the Patriots 34-9 home victory over the Detroit Lions in Week 12, Edelman had 11 receptions for 89 yards. Edelman is a native of California and he returned there with the Patriots in Week 14 to take on the San Diego Chargers. Edelamn would have another monster game with 8 receptions for 141 receiving yards and a touchdown grab in New England’s 23-14 victory.
In the AFC Divisional Playoffs, the Patriots became the first team in National Football League history to erase a pair of 14-point deficits as they defeated the Baltimore Ravens 35-31 and Edelman was a big part of that. In the game Edelman had 8 receptions for 74 yards along with channeling the inner quarterback within him as he threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Danny Amendola. In the AFC Championship Game, Edelman had 9 receptions for 98 yards as the Patriots easily dispatched of the Indianapolis Colts 45-7.
Edelman was now set to make his second appearance in the Super Bowl. Edelman was a member of the Patriots 2011 AFC Championship team, but in their 21-17 loss to the New York Giants, he was used more as a defensive back due to the injuries that New England to deal with. But entering Super Bowl 49 last Sunday, Edelman was a player that the Seattle Seahawks had to account for offensively.
The Seahawks secondary has been dubbed as the “Legion of Boom” as they have three All-Pros in cornerback Richard Sherman, free safety Earl Thomas, and strong safety Kam Chancellor. Edelman would have his work cut out for him navigating through this tough secondary; especially since they were prepared for him. But throughout the game Edelman was able to do what some people didn’t think he could do which was to have an impact versus the Seahawks secondary. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels continuously moved Edelman around with multiple formations and he finished the game with 9 receptions for 109 receiving yards and he also caught the game-winning touchdown. The Seahawks secondary doesn’t tend to give up that many yards after the catch, but Edelman found a way to make it happen with his grit, speed, and elusiveness. The Patriots would go on to defeat the Seahawks 28-24 and Edelman was able to win the Super Bowl Championship with New England that eluded Welker and in the process he has emerged from his shadow.
Grant it that Welker is five years Edelman’s senior, but Edelman has traits and athletic ability that Welker never had. Edelman is faster and more explosive than Welker as he has the acceleration needed for him to get away from defenders. Welker and Edelman have both made a living in the NFL by going over the middle, but Edelman has been able to take those hits from hungry safeties and keep going while Welker will go down.
Edelman is under contract with New England for three more seasons and barring any setbacks through injuries I cannot see him even hitting free agency as Patriots owner Robert Kraft likes to lock up players that can help him win before they hit the open market. Edelman’s toughness, grit, and passion for the game are what the Patriots are all about and the people in the New England area can relate to him as well. The Patriots should once again be a Super Bowl contender next season and Edelman will be a big part of it.