Bubble Watch: Julian Edelman

(Concluding a month-long series analyzing players who are on the roster bubble and where they may potentially fit in 2012.)

NAME: Julian Edelman

POSITION: Wide receiver

AGE: 26

2011 STATS: 13 games (no starts), 4 receptions (34 yards), 4 rushes (8 yards), 3 fumbles, 12 kick returns (284 yards), 28 punt returns (296 yards, 1 touchdown), 14 defensive tackles, 5 special teams tackles

INJURY STATUS: No known injuries


WHY HE SHOULD MAKE IT: Edelman has a leg up on his competition at wide receiver because of his versatility. While Deion Branch or Donte' Stallworth, who likely will also be fighting for a spot as a fourth receiver, don't offer much by way of special teams, Edelman brings value to the 46-man gameday active roster by contributing in all three phases of the game. Edelman also offers the closest match to Wes Welker's playing style if the receiver goes down with an injury. In his rookie season, Edelman was a solid fill-in when Welker missed two games. Since then, Edelman has seen his contributions on offense decrease, but has also become one of the team's more valuable special teams players.

WHY HE SHOULD NOT MAKE IT: Catching just four passes last season, Edelman's drop in offensive playing time may be in part explained by his move to defensive back for a stretch of last season. However, his receptions have dropped from 37 in 2009, to seven in 2010, to four in 2011. In organized team activities this spring, both Branch and safety Patrick Chung tried their hand at punt returns, while Stallworth flashed some speed as a kick returner. Either Stallworth or Branch contributing on special teams could have the effect of pushing Edelman off the roster.

CLOSEST COMPETITION: WR Deion Branch, WR Donte' Stallworth, WR Jeremy Ebert