By: Ian Logue/PatsFans.com
June 23, 2010

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Being a 7th round pick generally means there's not exactly high expectations, although once in a while a player surprises you.

Prior to coming into the league not a lot was expected of wide receiver Julian Edelman. Now a little over a year later he's heading into the 2010 season with the hope that he can be one of the more productive players on their roster.

It's amazing how things change.


Edelman finished 3rd on the team in receiving in '09, with 37 catches for 359 yards (Photo Credit: Icon/SMI)
Edelman's story is pretty interesting. Scouts apparently thought so little of him that the former Kent State quarterback wasn't even invited to the 2009 NFL Combine. However, on his pro day he actually recorded a 20-yard short shuttle time of 3.92 seconds. Had he attended the combine that would have been the fastest time of any player there.

After scouting him thoroughly it was the Patriots who finally took a shot at him. In a report from earlier this year, Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com mentioned how the phone call from head coach Bill Belichick to Edelman went down on Draft Day.

"We don't know what you're going to play," Belichick told Edelman at the time. "But we know you can play football."

Now here he is just a year later, and he's managed to make himself a valuable and dangerous weapon in New England's offense. Considering the progress he made from a late round pick to catching passes on Sundays from Tom Brady, even Belichick was impressed enough to recognize the amazing strides he made during that span.

"For Julian Edelman to come in and pick things up as quickly as he did last year and to be at the point as a receiver that he is right now — considering the fact that he, A) never played the position, and, B) converting to a new position as a rookie in an offense that has a number of moving parts and to be where he is now — is just phenomenal," said Belichick. "He's come so far as a football player at a new position in literally a calendar year … but he did it in six months … I don't think any one of us would have predicted that."

As we know, the draft and scouting process isn't always an exact science, and Edelman is another great example. Of the 12 receivers taken in that round last year, only Edelman and Tampa Bay Buccaneer receiver Sammie Stroughter (who coincindently was drafted with the next selection) were ones who had significant playing time and were productive last season. Stroughter played in 13 games and finished with 31 receptions for 334 yards and one touchdown, while Edelman played in 11 games (in fairness he missed time after breaking his forearm) with 37 receptions for 359 yards and a touchdown of his own.

In that round where 47 players were taken, 14 were waived, while four had no information in any of their online bios (which likely means they didn't accomplish much). Out of that total only 12 appeared in 10 or more games last season.

"We don't know what you're going to play," Belichick told Edelman at the time. "But we know you can play football."
The one interesting note from that year is Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop, who despite being "Mr. Irrelevant" as the last guy selected, ended up tying an NFL record for the highest field goal percentage by a rookie in a season, finishing at 86.2%. He hit 25-of-29, missing just one kick from 49 or less.

Again, it just goes to show that even the last guy taken can be a gem - you just never know.

Now in his second season with the Patriots, the offseason work has been different for Edelman than it was when he was working toward earning a spot on an NFL roster.

"I got to lift for football instead of lifting for the Combine," Edelman told reporters recently of his offseason experience. "I got to watch film, and watch film of me playing the position. I got to break down film of other guys on the team. It was very different. A little more relaxing, because you know where you are, you know the surroundings a little better, so it was good."

Needless to say that although the expectations for Edelman may be high, he's already done far more than the majority of his peers who were taken in that round last year. Considering that 7th round picks are typically longshots anyway, fans should be happy with what they've seen up to this point. Should he go on to be even better this year, that will simply be a bonus from a guy who has defied the odds so far in the NFL.


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