New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman isn’t playing this year due to an ACL injury, but he still gets a lot of respect from defenders around the league. Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman wrote about the 5 most underrated wide receivers in the NFL for The Players’ Tribune and made sure to include the Patriots wide receiver on the list.
“He’s not the biggest, strongest or fastest guy, but he plays hard and he plays the game the right way,” Sherman writes about Edelman. “He does the dirty work. He’s blue collar, and he’s tough as nails.”
Sherman highlights the hit on Edelman by strong safety Kam Chancellor in the middle of the field during Super Bowl XLIX against the Seahawks, noting that Edelman must be “one tough individual” to hold on to the football and to fight for more yardage.
Sherman also talks about why he believes Edelman is underrated.
“Whenever you talk about the Patriots, people talk about the system,” Sherman writes. “They had Wes Welker there before, and now with Edelman out, they’re using Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola pretty effectively in that slot role. I think that’s why Edelman is usually left out of the discussion of best receivers in the game — because of the system.
“But I think he’s more than just a system guy. You just don’t see a lot of wide receivers bring that kind of toughness to their game, especially at his size. And as a defensive player, that’s something that I definitely respect.”
This is a pretty transparent section (Edelman is a white wide receiver!) since Welker and Amendola were/are used almost exclusively in the slot, Edelman plays an even split inside and outside, and Hogan only lines up in the slot a third of the time. Hogan is also 3 inches taller than Edelman and Amendola, who are roughly 1.5 inches taller than Welker. Brandin Cooks lines up in the slot the same amount as Hogan and is more comparable in size and athleticism to Edelman and company, but here we are.
Sherman’s point is also true. The Patriots wide receivers are underrated because the New England offense is expected to be productive. Outside of tight end Rob Gronkowski, every other player in the offense is considered to be yet another cog in the machine, their success in the system attributed to Tom Brady.
Edelman is one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL and his loss has greatly affected the efficiency of the New England offense and its reliance on deep passes. He’s able to get open faster than anyone else on the roster and that skill is sorely missed when Brady needs to get rid of the ball quickly.
While Edelman won’t ever be considered for a league-wide award for his abilities, he’ll definitely be remembered alongside Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and Troy Brown for the best Patriots wide receivers of the Bill Belichick era- and something tells me that Edelman would be thrilled with that distinction.