Julian Edelman Is Without Question Among NFL’s Best


Another week, another New England Patriots win, and another touchdown for Julian Edelman. The former 232nd overall pick, who played quarterback in college at Kent State, has become nothing less than one of the NFL’s best receivers halfway through his seventh year in the league, all spent with the Pats. Against the Redskins yesterday, Edelman collected his 7th TD catch of the season on the Patriots’ opening driving, setting a career high in the process with eight games still to go.

His previous mark was 6 back in 2013, when he had 105 catches overall. That’s another career best Edelman could surpass if he continues his pace this season. He’s made 57 grabs thus far and should cruise into triple digits for the second time in three years. He’s benefited of course from lining up alongside a Hall of Famer, but as fantastic as Tom Brady is, he still can’t muster 100 catches out of just anyone. Edelman is a great player in his own right and it’s about time he starts getting recognized as such.

He’s not the flashiest receiver and his yards per catch average won’t blow you away, but he’s gritty and sure-handed, and always knows precisely where the first down marker is. It’s true Belichick’s Patriots are famous for taking unconventional players and maximizing their abilities. As a 5’10” ex-quarterback Edelman certainly fits the bill, but at this point he’d succeed on any team in the league and any quarterback would be thrilled to have him. You’ve got to love a guy who’s willing to go across the middle, take a 250-pound linebacker’s hardest hit, and bounce right back up spewing trash talk as the chains get moved.

He’s kept the league’s best offense churning this season just as much as Brady and All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski have. The Patriots thrive on long drives, methodically making their way up the field and dominating time of possession. Edelman works perfectly in this system, setting up manageable third downs and converting on those third downs. He’s not known as a home run hitter, and he doesn’t have to be with how New England looks to move the ball. This season he’s been more dangerous than ever in the red zone, as 5 of his 7 touchdowns have come in that area.

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Looking ahead to the second half of the season, the Patriots should continue to roll. Brady is the leader and rightful MVP candidate, but Edelman deserves recognition as an elite player on the league’s elite team. He got his first Super Bowl ring last season, coming up huge against the Seahawks, and he’ll play a critical role again as New England looks to repeat.