In last Sunday’s game against the Broncos Julian Edelman caught nine passes for a 110 yards and two touchdowns. He easily had one of the best games of his career and you could make the argument that Edelman was one the best players on the field Sunday night.
This season Edelman has played multiple roles at the wide receiver position. He has been Tom Brady’s go to guy as one of the only pass catchers on the roster with prior experience with the Patriots. Edelman has also been a change of pace receiver coming on the field in one of the Patriots offensive sub packages. Heck, Edelman is even one of the most explosive punt returners in the NFL. One of Bill Belichick’s biggest requirements in a football player is having the ability to play multiple roles. Edelman embodies this concept with the various responsibilities he can have in a game or on the practice field. Edelman spent three seasons as the starting quarterback at Kent State and will play the role of the elusive running quarterback on the Patriots look team. On top of all this Edelman is the type of player that goes at 100% on every single play and he always fights for that extra yard.
Do any of the characteristics I just described about Edelman also remind you of somebody else? Here I will give you a hint. He played six seasons for the Patriots and totaled 586 receptions for 7,459 yards and 37 touchdowns. I would hope you can guess the answer by now, but I will tell you anyways. Wes Welker had one of the most incredible runs for any wide receiver in history when he played for the Patriots. He was Brady’s number one target and consistently led the league in receptions. However, even though Welker was able to put up some godly numbers with the Patriots I feel the Edelman has the ability to be just as good if not better.
To start this argument I want to take a look at each players statistics so far this year. Edelman has played in all 11 games for the Patriots and he has 61 receptions for 610 and four touchdowns. Welker has also played in all 11 games for the Broncos and has 65 receptions for 679 yards and 9 touchdowns. Each player has almost identical stats this season except for the obvious discrepancy in touchdowns. The simple answer for this is the circumstance that each player is under. Welker plays on a team that has the best offensive in football. His quarterback, Peyton Manning has 36 touchdown passes and they are capable of moving the ball up and down the field. On the other hand Brady has only 17 touchdown passes and Edelman is part of an offense that is ranked 6th in the NFL for points scored. That right there is the difference when it comes to scoring production between Welker and Edelman this year.
One of Welker’s biggest testaments is his ability to stay healthy and stay on the field. Just this past week Welker was able to overcome a concussion in order to play in Sunday night’s game. Edelman on the other hand has not had the same ability. He is yet to play a complete NFL season and was limited to 9 games last year. However, his injuries haven’t been nagging hamstrings or pulled groins they have been legitimate broken bones and concussions like he suffered last season. So what we have learned this season, is that if Edelman can stay healthy he can easily keep pace and even out play Welker like he did Sunday night. He can even do all this with an offense and quarterback that are not producing on the same level as Welker’s.
Since Welker departed for Denver there has been constant talk about Danny Amendola’s ability to fill Welker’s shoes. So far this season Amendola has not been able to stay healthy and his level of production is way down. Edelman has really been the guy that has filled the shoes that Welker left behind. He has been there for Brady in the critical situations when they catch needs to be made. He has been able to squeak out that extra yard when needed in order to get a first down. And he has been able to take the hits this year and keep on going. Without a doubt I am convinced that Edelman has the ability to play at Welker’s level. I feel that if we give him the chance he could surpass the production Welker was able to accomplish with the Patriots.