Debating the top five receivers, on NBC SportsTalk

Last night’s edition of NBC SportsTalk on VERSUS included Peter King and yours truly listing our top five receivers in all of football.  (Since it worked so well for Cris Carter, we decided to give it a whirl.)

We agreed on the first one.  After that, it got interesting.

The debate focused on the proper position of Pats receiver Wes Welker.  King had Welker third; I left him off the list.

You can watch it below, and since we ran out of time before I could chime in with one last point, and since I can make as many points as I want to make right here, I’ll write what I would have said if I’d had one more crack at this one.

Tom Brady won three Super Bowls without Wes Welker.  Wes Welker has won zero Super Bowls with Tom Brady.  Welker, though skilled, benefits from playing with the best quarterback the game has ever seen.  If Welker wasn’t on the team, someone else would be catching all of those passes.

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42 responses to “Debating the top five receivers, on NBC SportsTalk

  1. This list is crap since you left Welker off. I mean he only has the most yards & catches in history through the first 5 games. Welker has zero Superbowls…. um okay how many does Calvin Johnson have? I can’t believe how many people are drinking the Megatron kool-aid. Give Welker the props he deserves! He does more work than Calvin does each game.

  2. I agree more with King. I wouldn’t have D Jackson up that high top 10 maybe S Smith from Carolina is a better. he just hasn’t had a QB till this year. Look at what he has done this year compared to Jackson. Plus he’s in his 30’s

  3. the problem that I have with your logic on Welker is, for instance, if Jerry Rice did not have Joe Montana/Steve Young for his career then he would not belong on the all time list either? or in the hall of fame?

    you cant penalize a guy because he is on a good team with a good line and a good QB. it not his fault.

    all he can do is go out and play.

  4. 5 Games/45 Receptions/740 Yards … Numbers don’t lie … The only way I won’t proclaim Welker the #1 WR this season in the NFL is if someone can pass him in receptions or yards. Until that happens, all WRs can have fun going for 2nd place.

  5. I hate the Pats but I love Welker. However, with all due respect, Welker is nothing more than a modern-day running back / extension of the running game.

    When choosing the best, you have to ask yourself the question of who would I want most as my WR and look beyond the stats (especially since stats are inflated now and don’t reflect true talent)

    Calvin Johnson is basically uncoverable and can do it all. Andre and Fitz are 1A or 1B. After these 3, you get into your second tier of receivers like Dez Bryant, Santonio Holmes, Greg Jennings, Roddy White, Colston, Hakeem Nicks, Reggie Wayne, Welker. These second tier guys are all relatively the same. If the top 3 were off the board, you’d go with any of the rest.

  6. Really getting sick of the underrating of Welker. It used to be that Moss took the coverage off him but now, without Moss, he is putting up video game numbers. And if he is simply “an extention of the running game”, then what other running back has gone for 700 plus yards this season? And what running back averages 17 yards a rush? Now its that Brady is unparalled in league history. Really? He is that much better than Montana, Elway, Marino, Manning, Brees… Etc? Sorry but I think if Welker looked different he would be acknowleged for the great receiver he is. At some point you simply can not ignore the numbers.

  7. I’m not going to debate you on the receivers but I am going to question you about flippantly referring to Brady as the best ever. Cmon dude it’s a different game. Montana is the standard and always be.

    You seem to feed into this generations attitude of instant gratification.

  8. It’s the same argument that the “pundits” used on Aikman and Smith – they had a great line. So – Welker has a great QB, big deal. I don’t see Chad kicking it into HOF gear with Brady as his QB. Welker deserves his due. And that’s coming from a patriots-hater.

  9. I don’t know that it’s the worst argument I’ve ever heard, but it’s right up there.

    1) Welker had 111 catches, and 1,165 yards the year Matt Cassel was their QB.
    2) Many receivers have played for New England, and only Welker and Moss have put up elite numbers. Deion Branch, David Givens, Donte Stallworth, Reche Caldwell, Doug Gabriel, Jabar Gaffney, etc etc etc, had zero 1,000 yard seasons between them.
    3) I don’t hear that argument used against Harrison, Wayne, Jennings, Driver, Gates, Jackson, let alone Jerry Rice.

  10. Brady never put up the historic numbers he did before 2007, with Welker (and Moss). Well, Moss is gone, and Brady is still putting up monster numbers.

    Brady would still put up great numbers, but it helps when you can dump off 3 yards to a guy and let him get 10 more, 100-120 times a season. Welker does most of the work. I’m getting tired of him being undersold because he’s short.

    The Patriots offense (other than the Panthers SB) was really just an accessory to the Patriots winning Super Bowls. It was defense and special teams that won.

    And before someone brings up spygate, well, spygate was supposed to help the Patriots offense. They were taping defensive signals. Despite that “big” advantage, they were scoring only 3 offensive TD’s in their 2001 playoff run, Bledsoe was throwing for 100 yards against the Steelers, and Brady against the Rams.

    It was the great, underrated defensive players and Adam Vinatieri’s leg that helped them win titles. Brady and Belichick (we’re seeing it with Belichick’s “brilliant” defense nowadays) were tag alongs.

  11. I love this topic since I’ve been debating it the last couple weeks. And as a former WR picking apart other wr’s is what I do!! 1. Calvin Johnson is a no brainer right now. 2. Im with king its Andre. 3. With King again. Wes welker cannot be covered in the slot. While the qb plays a part and might be able to break a tie to say that Brady has THAT dramatic of an effect on Welker’s game is ridiculous. Now the offense is another story. 4. I believe its Steve Smith. He just doesn’t get enough love. Still has world class speed and is TOUGH AS NAILS. To me the fact that he is much more of an all around WR he passes DJAX and Fitz. 5. This is where it gets really tough. I say Fitz but Im not sure about it. Fitz was polished when he came in the league and I don’t feel he’s gotten any better. He was great coming in and is essentially the same guy MOSTLY a jump ball guy. Well to me thats what Vincent Jackson is too. 5 Ill go with Fitz but, VJax and Jennings and Miles Austin all have arguments. Why no Djax and Wallace. WR’s that don’t go over the middle severely get downgraded unless you are completely unstoppable like Randy Moss

  12. Wes Welker doesn’t pass the eye test the way specimens like Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson and Brandon Marshall do. But a WR has two basic duties: get open; and catch the ball. Welker gets open play after play because he runs the best routes in football and has outstanding quickness and short-area burst. And he catches everything thrown in his direction.

    Maybe a better way to gauge Welker’s accomplishments as a receiver are to look at Tom Brady’s numbers. Prior to Welker’s arrival in New England, in 2007, Brady’s average season looked like this:

    3593 yds
    24.5 TDs
    13 INTs
    88.5 passer rating

    Since 2007 (and not including 2008 or this season), a typical Brady season:

    4368 yds
    38 TDs
    8 INTs
    108.1 passer rating

    Obviously, Randy Moss had an enormous impact on Brady’s numbers, especially in 2007, but when Moss left New England early in 2010, Brady’s performance didn’t drop off. Welker just kept catching passes. And so far this season, TB is on a ridiculous pace, with Welker doing most of the damage catching the ball. You could even make the argument that Randy Moss benefitted as much from Welker’s presence as Welker did from Moss’s. Those deep routes opened up in no small part because Welker is so lethal in the short and intermediate ranges.

    Welker’s impact as a receiver may not be as (literally) spectacular as some other guys’, but that just means we need to look a little harder at what he’s doing.

  13. Wait, you left off Welker as a Top 5 receiver? Are you high, drunk, or both? Start watching some tape on the guy, he’s like a ghost. He starts his route and disappears, then reappears wide the hell open. Welker would’ve been great in Miami if he wasn’t playing for the Dolphins, and they were dumb enough to trade him to us. And Welker is as tough as they come, getting leveled play after play and keeps coming back for more. He’ll never be a Calvin Johnson or a Randy Moss, he’s not built like that. He’s Wes “Galloping Ghost” Welker, small, quick, and causes havoc on the field. Do you realize how many teams would KILL for a receiver like him? Hint: it’s all of them. I expect an apology to Welker personally for your insolence.

  14. And remember in the last Super Bowl the Patriots played it, Welker was the only one of the Patriots offense who actually showed up that day. Brady, the offensive line, the running backs, the other receivers, all took the day off.

    Once again the old Patriots defense kept the Patriots in the game, but the greatest offense ever, with the greatest QB ever, averaging nearly 37 points a game, managed to put up 14.

    But no, it was the defense’s fault for giving up a whopping 17 (less than their season average). I’m tired of Brady coming out clean everytime the Patriots bathe in crap.

    Other than the Colts game in 2006, he’s been as responsible as anybody for his other 4 playoff losses. He practically gave the game away against Denver. He led the greatest offense ever to a measly 14 points in the SB. He had 4 turnovers against the Ravens. He had another great offense only score 3 points through 3 quarters against the Jets, and only put up decent stats because the Jets played soft in the fourth.

    The funny thing is, everyone debates about Brady and Manning. They’re the EXACT SAME PLAYER. Brady won when his defense carried him and he just managed the game, and Manning won when his running game and defense suddenly became all-world for one playoff run. Both put up video game numbers in the regular season, and falter in the playoffs. The difference is, Manning did it early in his career, Brady is doing it late.

  15. I bet if you actually asked the Defensive Backs in the NFL, they would put Steve Smith in the top 5.

    Steve Smith has had Jake Delhomme and Jimmy Clausen as his qb’s for his entire career.

    Cam is doing well getting 89 the ball, but good Lord I bet yall anything that Steve Smith would be regarded THE best receiver in the game if Brady, Brees, or Rodgers were throwing him the ball!

  16. Calvin Johnson #1

    Wes Welker #2

    Reason? If you could choose one do you really think any of you would start with Welker over Cal? Not looking at QB, say Joe Flacco or Phillip Rivers or Tony Romo is the QB, I truly don’t think anyone would select Welker over Calvin.

    You can throw out all the stats you want. The Patriots used to run Kevin Faulk and rely on their defense, now they don’t have an elite defense so they rely on Welker and their Tight Ends. Welker is definitely a top 5 WR in the league, but he’s not the best

  17. Thank god for Peter King. Welker is easily one of the best recievers in the league. The fact the Patriots havnt won a Super Bowl with since he has been there has nothing to do with him. He doesn’t play on defense. The Pats offense has been unstoppable since he has been there. Yes, Brady is the/or one of the best of all time but you can’t penalize Welker for that. He is in the exact right spot and runs the exact right route every single down. He never takes a play off and that is why Brady goes to him and he went for 150 last week even with the Jets trying to shut him down. The other guys mentioned have outstanding athletic ability but none are better recievers than Welker.

  18. What about Reggie Bush?

    HE’s a receiver not a real back.Just ask NO or Miami. Boy couldn’t run through a paper line

  19. You can’t take the fact that Welker hasn’t won a Superbowl and use it against him. Consider the fact that:

    1) Welker was the only receiver who really showed up in the Superbowl and easily would have been the MVP is not for Samuel first dropping a pick and then letting Tyree go free.

    2) Brady missed all of 08

    3) Welker tore his ACL before the playoffs in 09

    4) The Patriots defense has been terrible the last few seasons

    Welker is easily a top 5 receiver.

  20. obamasballsack says:
    Oct 15, 2011 4:53 PM

    Don’t ever insult Reggie Bush. He is the best back in the league. He just doesn’t get as much touches.

    OK Reggie if you say so…………
    You don’t get the touches cause your not a REAL RB

  21. obamasballsack says: Oct 15, 2011 4:53 PM


    Don’t ever insult Reggie Bush. He is the best back in the league. He just doesn’t get as much touches.


    You are sooo right! And I am the greatest QB the NFL never bothered to draft. If I’d just get my snaps in, everyone would see it is so!

  22. If you really want to know how good Welker is look at his stats the year Matt Cassel was throwing to him in New England and look at the year Joey Harrington was throwing to him in Miami. No possible way for Welker to be left off a top 5 list.

    BTW, is there a statute of limitations for kicking Cam Cameron’s ass for trading Welker?

  23. Any man who considers Tom Brady “the best quarterback the game has ever seen” is a man of immeasurable wisdom. I salute your brilliance.

    As for Welker, setting age aside, I would be hard pressed to say okay to trading him for any WR in the game. There are only a few great WRs. But there is nobody who can do what Welker does.

  24. Because Welker hasn’t won a Super Bowl since he has been with the Pats?? How many has Calvin Johnson won? Fitzgerald??

    I didn’t actually watch the video because I can’t stand listening to this dude so I don’t know who else he ranked in there, but I can assume those two would be in there at least.

    And the whole Brady angle?? Welker had 112 catches for 1,150 yards in 2008 – as a slot reciever….with Matt Cassle throwing to him.

  25. Seriously, if you’re building a team from scratch, how many guys would you choose at WR before you got to Welker? 2? 5? Probably more like 10.

    He’s a super solid player benefiting tremendously from an offense suited to him and a great QB. But he wouldn’t have his stats or impact on any other team, and everyone understands that. He works in the slot in NE the way every single RB in Denver went for over 1000 yards for, what, a decade and a half under Shanahan?

    If you’re starting a team right now and take Welker ahead of Megatron, Andre, Fitz, Jennings, Steve Smith, Vincent Jackson, Miles Austin, Roddy White, and others (probable DJax, maybe Dez, even Boldin probably), then you’ve made a mistake — unless you have Brady and are gonna run their offense. Which, as we’re seeing, ain’t such a bad idea.

  26. Welker on that list is ridiculous. As a slot receiver, he’s matched against linebackers, safeties and someone’s third cornerback (usually). Hopefully, he would be able to get open and get a lot of yards after the catch. You would never find Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, or Larry Fitzgerald lined up in such an advantageous position.

    Also, Brady has a knack for making wide receivers look better than they really are. Troy Brown, David Patten, and many others took advantage of this and got huge paydays with other teams, but never matched their production they had with Brady.

    Lastly, Andre Johnson should still be tops on this list. Calvin is having a great season, but Andre’s been doing it for a longer time, without being the primary target as much as he should be in the red zone.

  27. Some of you fellas don’t seem to realize Welker has been split out wide quite a bit this year.

    But if you wanna call that the slot, ok with me.

  28. dinking and dunking all game via 5wide wrs does not equate to a elite qb im sorry tom brady is above average at best which is why they play that brand of football

  29. Welker has Brady throwing to him. Brady is a system QB. Brady is not a above average athlete. All meaningless points. The fact is they are doing it and other people are not. The whole team is sytem players I guess….. (shaking head)

  30. Welker doesn’t make the list because if he wasn’t in NE Brady would be throwing it to somebody else for those numbers?
    Care to point out all the other wideouts Brady has handed those great stats too?
    Is it just coincidence that Bradys personal passing stats have improved since Welker was signed?
    the only 1 of the 5 you listed who did win a SB is Jennings,who has Rodgers who is the best in the game right now, if he weren’t there somebody else would be getting that catches, right? So why is he on the list

    Welker doesn’t make the top 5 because he hasn’t won a Super Bowl?
    4 of your top 5 haven’t won a Super Bowl so it really isn’t a factor unless you are “grasping at straws”
    Terrell Owens
    Randy Moss
    Chris Carter
    Tim Brown
    They shouldn’t be considered great because they don’t have rings should they?

    You know how many of the top 10 best seasons in terms of yards by a Wideout has resulted in their team winning a Super Bowl? ZERO, not one.
    Top 20 seasons? Just one, Michael Irvin in 95.

    I guess Troy Brown was a great wideout because the teams he was on were more successful than the more productive wideouts the Pats have had since.

  31. Calvin Johnson
    Andre Johnson
    Larry Fitzgerald
    Desean Jackson
    Vincent Jackson
    Greg Jennings
    Wes Welker

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