NFL Hall of Famers, legends give interesting responses on Julian Edelman, slot receivers getting into Canton

Ryan Hannable
January 30, 2019 - 12:02 pm
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ATLANTA -- With how good Julian Edelman has been in the postseason, it's sparked the question: is he a Hall of Famer?

The 32-year-old doesn't have numbers that jump off the charts, as he is 148th in all-time receptions (499), 248th in all-time receiving yards (5,390) and only has 30 career touchdowns. He's also never made a Pro Bowl or been an All-Pro.

But, what he does have is playoff numbers that are better than almost anyone at the position.

In the playoffs, Edelman has 105 catches for 1,271 yards and five touchdowns. The 105 receptions are the second most all-time, as he passed Reggie Wayne earlier this postseason. Edelman now only trails Jerry Rice, who had 151.

“I love him. He’s a grinder," Wayne said Wednesday at NFL Media availability at the Super Bowl. "My two weeks there he was battling a little injury, but when we were in the film room you could tell he was into it. As a guy that played for 14 years that loved film study, that was like a breath of fresh air going somewhere else and seeing a guy who had the same passion that I have, so I think it is well-deserved.

"They used to always call [Danny] Amendola ‘Mr. Playoff,’ but I always felt he was ‘Mr. Playoff.’ Couldn’t happen to a better dude.”

As for if he belongs in the Hall of Fame, some current members in Canton had a few interesting points on not only him, but slot receivers in general.

“I don’t know that," Terrell Davis said, who was part of the 2017 class. "That is a great question. I don’t know. Let’s let the ink dry and we have to go into a discussion of who you would put him up against or compare him to. I don’t vote, so thank goodness for that. I don’t really have to answer that question.”

Davis added: “That is a tough one because [slot receivers] are competing against guys — the No. 1 receivers are kind of the nature of the game as the guys on the outside. By nature they are going to get the most targets and statistically they are going to have the best stats. Yes, we have seen the evolution of the slot receiver now getting a lot of praise. I have heard some receivers say they like to play the slot being part of all the in-breaking, out-breaking routes they can run. They realize they are probably going to be up against a nickel cornerback, unless they rotate corners against the best receivers, but it is tough. I don’t think people realize, it is tough being a nickel corner and trying to cover guys out of the slot. It is not easy. 

“As far as the Hall of Fame, I can’t answer that because I don’t know how the voters think, or what their process is. I assume they don’t look at it as slot receivers vs. outside receivers. There’s so many really good receivers who coincidentally play on the outside that I don’t know how you really can compete with that.”

LaDainian Tomlinson, who was also part of the 2017 class, feels slot receivers should be considered.

“Well, I think it is something that really has to be thought about because slot receivers are now so important in the scheme of the game," he said. "If a guy is productive, no matter where he is getting his yards and touchdowns, it doesn’t matter. He’s productive. I really don’t care if he plays slot, or if he plays tight end or if he’s on the perimeter out wide. It doesn’t matter to me if the guy is productive.”

While Wayne doesn't know for sure if in fact Edelman is deserving of getting into Canton, he did say he's a player who he would want getting the ball when it matters most.

“I don’t know. That is up for them to decide. I am trying to figure out if I am one," he said. "I just know when there’s a crucial situation, he’s one of the guys I would want to go to.”

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