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Patriots rookie Malik Cunningham trying to follow Julian Edelman path from QB to WR

Malik Cunningham is attempting to replicate Julian Edelman's transition from quarterback to wide receiver with the New England Patriots.

The former Louisville quarterback signed with the Pats as an undrafted free agent this offseason and has reportedly impressed coaches with his early-stage development as a wideout.

"I've never ran a route ever in my life," Cunningham said Monday, via Mass Live. "It's definitely different, but the quarterback is still in me so it's kind of learning as we go. Just trying to get better each and every day, so that's been the task. Trying to focus on the details at the receiver standpoint -- alignment, assignment and knowing what to do."

Cunningham followed Lamar Jackson at Louisville, throwing for 9,660 yards and 70 touchdowns with 29 interceptions across five seasons and 47 starts, including a 2,941-yard campaign in 2021. The dual-threat also rushed for 3,179 yards and 50 additional scores.

Cunningham had hoped to be drafted as a QB, but he told teams he was willing to move to receiver. According to Cunningham, the Patriots were the only club he worked out for during the 2023 draft process to put him through receiver drills. When the selection process was completed without his name called, the 24-year-old was offered a chance to join the Pats to compete for a WR spot.

New Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien showed Cunningham tape of Edelman -- the Kent State QB who famously turned into a pivotal playmaking wideout for Super Bowl runs -- to show the transition is possible.

"Just the culture and the Julian Edelman stories -- the guys that played quarterback in college and moved over to receiver," Cunningham said of why he chose New England. "Seeing those guys do it and I know -- not that I'm more athletic than those guys, but we're all on the same level, so I feel like I can do it."

Even in a wideout crew in need of aid, Cunningham is a likely practice squad candidate. Going from QB to WR, he'd ideally be able to transition away from the spotlight. First, however, he needs to continue to turn heads and show progress during training camp and the preseason later this summer.

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