Ex-Patriots staffer sums up Julian Edelman's toughness with phenomenal quote


The New England Patriots have had a hard time drafting wide receivers under head coach Bill Belichick -- with one squirrelly exception.

That'd be converted quarterback Julian Edelman, who rose from a seventh-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft to become the Patriots' premier slot man in the post-Wes Welker era and win Super Bowl LIII MVP.

New England has tried and failed to find the next Edelman in recent drafts. (Do Jeremy Ebert, Josh Boyce or Jeremy Gallon ring a bell?) But Edelman wasn't exactly a can't-miss prospect out of Kent State.

So, how did he become the player he is today? In an insightful column Thursday on the NFL's "slot receiver supply chain," The Athletic's Bruce Feldman shared a former Patriots employee's great (and expletive-laden) take on the subject.

"Julian is strong as s---. Some of these guys are 5-10, 190 and are thin-boned. You can push them around. They’re good 7-on-7 guys. He can block, can break a tackle and pound-for-pound is very strong. The guy’s toughness and competitiveness is in the one percent of people in the NFL. He is rare. He’s an absolute pit bull. Welker and (Danny) Amendola weren’t as physical. He’s a lot stronger. He’s so f---ing tough.

If you ask him to go inside and crack on (linebacker) C.J. Mosley. He’s thinking, I’ll go in there and knock the s--- out of him. (Braxton) Berrios will try it and be a bug on a windshield.

Edelman's tenacity popped up right away in New England, according to the Pats staffer, who said the wide receiver gained quarterback Tom Brady's trust by excelling in one-on-ones during 2009 training camp, which in turn sent Edelman's confidence "through the roof."

"Once he got a taste of that, his work ethic was unlike anything we’ve ever seen," the staffer added of Edelman.

(Feldman's full story is worth the read, by the way.)

Combine Edelman's toughness and motor with his great feel for the game and underrated athleticism, and you have a former 232nd overall pick who may have a case for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Patriots could use a receiver in this year's draft to give Edelman some help, but let's just say the bar is high.

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