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Julian Edelman on Robert Kraft backing organization: ‘It’s always great to see everyone sticking together’ 05.18.15 at 7:28 pm ET
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Although speaking very briefly, Julian Edelman showed his support of Patriots owner Robert Kraft standing by the team in wake of Deflategate and the Wells Report findings.

Kraft has put out multiple statements backing the organization and Tom Brady in particular over the past week. Edelman said he expects “nothing less from him.”

“Unbelievable — Mr. Kraft — it’s ran like a family, the organization, I expect nothing less from him,” Edelman said at teammate Rob Ninkovich‘s charity event Monday night, “Ninko’€™s Ping Pong Challenge” at Blazing Paddles next to Fenway Park. “It’s always great to see everyone sticking together.”

“I love having Mr. Kraft. Like I said, it’s good,” the wide receiver added.

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Read More: Deflategate, Julian Edelman, Robert Kraft,
Julian Edelman lands at No. 91 on NFL Network’s ‘Top 100′ countdown 05.07.15 at 1:12 pm ET
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Julian Edelman enjoyed the celebration around the Patriots' Super Bowl title. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Julian Edelman enjoyed the celebration around the Patriots’ Super Bowl title. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

In non-Deflategate news, Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman came in at No. 91 on the NFL Network’s “Top 100″ countdown on Wednesday night.

Edelman is the first New England player on the list, which is put together through a vote of the players. In the segment, several players were asked about Edelman’s abilities.

Tom Brady makes receivers. When Tom needs a play, he’s going to Edelman,” said Pittsburgh’s Ike Taylor. “‘I’m going to wait until he gets open, I’m going to wait … he’s open.’ Bam. We got action.”

“Someone just called him the hardest cover in football. His quickness is crazy,” said his teammate, fullback James Develin. “It doesn’t get much tougher than Julian Edelman, The guy takes huge hits, shakes them off and keeps on ticking.”

“You can’t cover him, man. It’s hard to cover him, one on one,” said teammate and safety Patrick Chung, who called him “crazy.”

“He’s always making those plays that normal players don’t make,” said Broncos defensive end Antonio Smith. “That’s what makes Edelman one of those guys that stands out.”

This is the first appearance on the Top 100 list for Edelman. Check out the full segment on him here.

Read More: Ike Taylor, James Develin, Julian Edelman, Patrick Chung
Best draft picks of Bill Belichick era, 2015 edition 04.28.15 at 11:00 pm ET
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Bill Belichick has struck draft weekend gold on a number of occasions. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick has struck draft weekend gold on a number of occasions. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

With the draft around the corner and our last glance at the best draft picks of the Bill Belichick era looking a little dated, we decided to put together a new list of some of the finest draft moments in recent New England history under Belichick.

As was the case the first time around, in putting together the rankings we took several things into account.

One, impact on and off the field. While production clearly figures into the rankings — and is the first and most important measuring stick — many picks (particularly guys like Tom Brady, Matt Light, Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork) would go on to demonstrate terrific leadership skills and, as a result, become cornerstones of the franchise.

Two, overall draft value. Some later-round picks are ranked higher on our list than first-rounders because it says something about a late-round pick if he exceeds expectations. (That’s why you’ll see so many fifth-, sixth- and seventh-rounders near the top of our list.)

And three, something we’ll call intangibles. It could mean a consistent ability to produce in big moments or simply rise above an unfortunate situation to succeed in the NFL.

With all that in mind — and with the understanding we’ll follow this shortly with the worst picks of the Belichick era — here’s our list.

20. Matthew Slater (5th round, 153rd overall, 2008): The UCLA product was a man without a position when he arrived, and was a perennial candidate to be cut before the start of the season in his first few years in the league. But he’s become one of the most highly respected guys in the New England locker room, not just because of his high character and good nature off the field, but for his special teams skills on the field. Voted as a three-time All-Pro by the Pro Football Writers of America, the son of Hall of Famer Jackie Slater has been named the special teams captain four times in his seven years in the NFL. Along with Dan Koppen, the best fifth-round pick in the history of the franchise.

19. Matt Cassel (7th round, 230th overall, 2005): After working as the primary backup to Tom Brady for three seasons — following a career at USC where he was a backup to a few signal-callers, including Carson Palmer — he stepped into the starters’ role in 2008 for a year and demonstrated that he was good enough to compete at the NFL level. Cassel threw for 3,693 yards while helping guide the Patriots to an 11-5 season.

18. Stevan Ridley (3rd round, 73rd overall, 2011) and Shane Vereen (2nd round, 56th overall, 2011): We’ll pair these two together because they had such a significant impact on the New England running game as a duo the last few years. Ridley rushed for 1,263 yards in 2012, and 2,817 yards (and 4.3 yards per carry) in his four seasons with the Patriots before signing with the Jets this offseason. Meanwhile, Vereen was one of only five running backs last year to finish with at least 50 catches and 50 carries, and his 11 receptions in Super Bowl XLIX were a big part of New England’s win over the Seahawks. Vereen inked a free agent contract with the Giants in March.

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Read More: 2015 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick, Bryan Stork, david givens
Trip to White House only small part of Thursday’s journey for Patriots 04.24.15 at 7:41 am ET
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President Barack Obama walks with Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick prior to Thursday's ceremony at the White House. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama walks with Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick prior to Thursday’s ceremony at the White House. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The chance to be feted at the White House and meet President Barack Obama was just one part of the Patriots trip to Washington, D.C. on Thursday. Another part of the trip is the annual journey to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, something the team did before the trip to Pennsylvania Avenue. It was a tradition the team began doing that after winning Super Bowl XXXVI.

“Look, those are the real heroes; those guys are out there fighting and dying for our country and protecting our freedom, so we all have a lot to be thankful for,” said coach Bill Belichick. “Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. They make what we do possible. There’s no way to express the gratitude that I feel for what they do.”

“That was a great experience,” said tight end Rob Gronkowski. “To see the soldiers that were in Afghanistan and Iraq, having a visit with them and a couple of the players, Mr. Kraft, coach Belichick, so that was a great experience too and put some perspective on how great we have it as athletes. It’s an honor meeting the President and all of the troops that we met at the Walter Reed Hospital too.”

“It was a great time, a tremendous time,” defensive end Chandler Jones said of the Reed visit. “Like coach said, those guys are the real heroes. I was shocked at how many Patriots fans were in there, those guys, Gronkowski and Edelman and Jones jerseys in there, not even knowing that we were coming. It gives you a different outlook on life, and I just want to thank those guys if they’re watching; they really are the true heroes.”

“It’s unbelievable to see these young men and women serving their country and going out there and seeing the things that you see there,” said wide receiver Julian Edelman. “It definitely puts life in perspective, and like coach said, those are the true heroes.”

Read More: Barack Obama, Bill Belichick, chandler jones, Julian Edelman
Julian Edelman creates inspired ‘Star Wars’-Patriots mashup 04.17.15 at 11:38 pm ET
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Let’s face it — Tom Brady could post a half-million videos of him jumping off cliffs or Photoshopping his body into a full cast as an April Fools prank, but he’d never be able to come up with something like this. Julian Edelman just changed the social media game in the Patriots locker room with this little number.

Read More: because it's the offseason, Julian Edelman, Star Wars, Tom Brady
Resetting Patriots depth chart: Wide receiver 04.11.15 at 9:10 am ET
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Julian Edelman figures to be the No. 1 option at wide receiver for the Patriots. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Julian Edelman figures to be the No. 1 option at wide receiver for the Patriots. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

With the majority of free agency completed and the draft looming, we’€™re going to take a look at the Patriots depth chart by position, and try and assess the level of need going forward. We started with special teams and tight end. Now, it’€™s wide receiver:

Current depth chart: Julian Edelman (92 catches, 134 targets, 972 yards, 4 TDs), Brandon LaFell (74 catches, 119 targets, 953 yards, 7 TDs), Danny Amendola (27 catches, 42 targets, 200 yards, 1 TD), Brian Tyms (5 catches, 11 targets, 82 yards, 1 TD), Aaron Dobson (3 catches, 5 targets, 38 yards ‘€” ended season on injured reserve), Brandon Gibson (29 catches, 51 targets, 295 yards, 1 TD for Miami last year), Josh Boyce, Jonathan Krause, Greg Orton and Kevin Dorsey.

Lost in free agency: None.

Gained in free agency: Gibson and Dorsey, both of whom were officially added on March 11. While Dorsey figures to be a special teamer/depth signing, the addition of Gibson could add some competition to the mix. The 27-year-old is a 6-foot, 210-pounder who entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick by Philadelphia in 2009 out of Washington State. He’€™s played in 76 games with 46 starts and has 233 receptions for 2,711 yards and 13 touchdowns. Gibson does have some positional versatility, but did spend an awful lot of time in the slot the last two seasons with the Dolphins, but it will be interesting to see where he lines up with the Patriots.

Other changes: None. Edelman figures to remain the No. 1 option at wide receiver, while LaFell had a very strong first year in New England, and Amendola came on strong down the stretch. (Prior to Week 16 against the Jets, Amendola had 15 catches for 113 yards and one touchdown on the season. In the five remaining games ‘€” including the playoffs ‘€” he had 23 catches for 224 yards and three touchdowns.) This remains a big offseason for Dobson, who suffered a lost season in 2014 ‘€” offseason foot surgery meant he got off to a slow start, and he was eventually shut down in November after a hamstring injury. He’€™s only 23, but from this viewpoint, the franchise would love to see more urgency and consistency from him in 2015 as he tries to take his game to the next level.

Is this an area of need going into the draft? Not on the surface, but there are some rumblings that the Patriots might surprise people by going after a wide receiver with one of their high value picks, either on the first or second day. This report from Jason LaCanfora seems to suggest New England is at least considering a handful of names in the first round, including Louisville‘€™s DaVante Parker, Central Florida’€™s Breshad Perriman or Mizzou’€™s Dorial Green-Beckham as possibilities. For a team that would appear to have serious needs at other spots ‘€” cornerback, offensive line ‘€” a wide receiver in the first round would represent one of the bigger draft curveballs in recent Patriots’€™ draft history. (For the record, Bill Belichick has never taken a wide receiver in the first round since he took over in New England in 2000.)

Read More: Aaron Dobson, Bill Belichick, Brandon Gibson, Brandon LaFell
NFL passes 5 new rules, including ‘Julian Edelman rule’ 03.24.15 at 7:49 pm ET
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The NFL is continuing to take player safety seriously, and to further the trend the league passed five new rules directed to player safety on Tuesday at the league meetings in Arizona.

In the Super Bowl Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman took a huge shot over the middle of the field from Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor. Edelman appeared dazed, but stayed in the game, still appearing dazed a few plays after. With one of the rule changes, that may not have happened.

A rule passed Tuesday now says there will be an injury spotter, who can stop the game if he/she sees a player may have suffered a brain injury. The ATC spotter (athletic trainers) would be able to notify the side judge who can then call a medical timeout to remove the player from the game.

“You’€™d have to talk to the medical people about that. I was coaching the game,” Bill Belichick said of the play and if he thought Edelman should have came out of the game.

The other four changes are:

1. Defensive players can no longer push teammates at the line of scrimmage on punts.

2. Peel back blocks are banned.

3. Once a pass is intercepted, receivers now have defenseless receiver protection.

4. Running backs can no longer chop block a defensive player engaged by the waist outside the tackle box.

It’s worth noting Belichick’s proposal for fixed cameras on all boundary lines to aid in instant replay was tabled to allow for additional time for research and development.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Julian Edelman,
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