Julian Edelman: New England Patriots Wideout Will Emerge in 2011

Aaron DodgeAnalyst IJuly 2, 2011

The 2010 season can be filed under the lost category if you're Julian Edelman.

The former standout quarterback at Kent State dealt with injuries and a lack of playing time for much of the year. When he could get on the field he struggled with dropped passes, which only contributed to his absence from the lineup.

Despite his regression, I feel more than comfortable labeling 2011 a prime breakout opportunity for Edelman. He's only had two years to completely switch positions from signal caller to wideout. His unlikely production as a rookie led to sky-high expectations heading into 2010, expectations that would have been nearly impossible to meet.

Edelman burst onto the scene in Week 2 of his rookie season. Starting against the Jets in place of an injured Wes Welker, Edelman caught eight balls for 98 yards in just his second career game. He only had six receptions in the entire preseason and had one career catch in college.

He put on his best Welker-Impersonation in his spot duty and managed 37 catches and seven starts, but this is where the problem began.

Why was a quarterback who was selected in the seventh round allowed to even see the field at receiver just months after finishing his career at Kent State? This is a school, by the way, that played in the NCAA's Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A).

Edelman should have been given time to develop and learn the art of receiving, but instead he saw the field early. The production that the Patriots have managed to get out of him in the receiving and return game thus far has been phenomenally lucky considering his experience level. 

The 25-year-old is entering his third season in the league, and this could be the year he takes a big developmental jump. ESPN'S Mike Reiss spotted Edelman on the field during player-only workouts in the Patriots' three-receiver sets.

"Edelman was the one player who stood out to me during those informal workouts," Reiss says of the yongster. 

What stood out to me in regards to Edelman is the fact that he's been working out with Tom Brady this offseason. These aren't your run of the mill workouts, however. Edelman has been running routes for Brady while the quarterback works out his throwing kinks under long-time mentor Tom Martinez.

It sounds as if there's a serious rapport building here, which spells great things for Edelman's 2011 prospects. It also means he's developed as a route runner and pass catcher, which will perhaps help him have his real breakout.