Not long ago, Julian Edelman was a no-name QB-converted- WR buried in the Patriots’ receiving core. Now look at him, a Pro Bowl snub, and leading receiver for the Patriots. He’s come a long way in a short amount of time. Drafted out of Kent State in 2009, the 7th round draft pick has risen the ranks of the Patriots receiving core to be their #1 receiver. Once Welker walked in free agency, and the Patriots signed Danny Amendola, everyone though that Amendola would be Welker’s replacement. Amendola’s injury history followed him to New England and he was hurt after the first game. Luckily Julian Edelman was there to pick up where Amendola fell off.
Edelman put up astounding numbers last season, he had 105 receptions on 151 targets, posted 1,056 yards receiving, 6 TDs, and he also had over 300 punt return yards. Now, those numbers aren’t as good as Welker’s best season with the Pats, where he put up 123 receptions, 1,348 yards and 4 TDs in just 14 games. But Edelman has something that Welker never had during his stay in New England: Darrelle Revis.
With the Patriots adding Revis to their defense, Edelman gets to go up against the leagues BEST corner all the time during practice. By facing Revis on a regular basis, Edelman will get better; he has to if he ever wants to make any catches in practice. This offseason has been filled with Edelman making all kinds of circus catches and looking like the best receiver on the field. This continuous ascension into super stardom started last year, but Revis will put Edelman in with Victor Cruz, and Wes Welker (2 of the premier slot receivers in the league). But Edelman is more than just a slot receiver; he spent the majority of his time last year on the outside.
Right now, I don’t even think it’s a competition. Edelman is way better than Welker, mainly because Welker is getting old. But even at his peak,Welker couldn’t make the big catch when he needed to, and he almost never made anything other than the routine catch (he just caught a lot of them). Welker also had Randy Moss and Rob Gronkowski garnering most of the attention. Edelman makes the hard catch; he makes the crazy one-handed grabs and can make people miss even without a superstar to take the majority of the pressure off of him. Edelman had Gronk for 5 games last year, that’s it.
Julian Edelman is bigger than Welker (even if only by an inch) and he outweighs Welker by 15 pounds. Welker’s ability to stay on the field is lower than Edelman’s, since Welker had 2 concussions last season. Edelman also doesn’t have anywhere near the drop percentage Welker has. Last year, Welker dropped 9% of passes thrown his way while Edelman dropped 5.3%. That’s a world of difference and Welker is the reason the Patriots don’t have another ring, he dropped the biggest catch of his life after it hit him in the hands.
Patriot fans should be excited this coming year, not only because of the new look defense, but because Gronk is healthy and Edelman is looking better each day. There’s a lot to be happy about. Is it football season yet?