Jerry Rice: Megatron, Fitzgerald are better than Welker

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We’ve talked a lot this year about the top receivers in the NFL, with Cris Carter getting the conversation started by sticking his foot in his mouth about Calvin Johnson, only to backtrack later. More recently, Mike Florio and Peter King agreed that Johnson is the best in the league, but sharply disagreed about where to rank Wes Welker.

Now we have an opinion from the greatest receiver of them all.

Jerry Rice said on ESPN Radio this morning that he would be glad to see Welker break his record for receiving yards in a season this year. But he added that he doesn’t think Welker is as good as Johnson.

“I wouldn’t say he’s the best because I’m leaning a little bit more toward Megatron or even Larry Fitzgerald,” Rice said. “But you would have to put him somewhere in the top five.”

Rice suggested that the difference between Welker and Johnson is that Welker is the perfect fit for the role he plays in the Patriots’ offense, while Johnson would be a major playmaker in any offense.

“He’s a slot guy and it’s more difficult to try to double a guy inside,” Rice said of Welker. “He’s not the guy that’s going to be lined up outside because then you can put a guy like Revis on him and make it just a little bit easier to cover him. You put him in the slot receiver and you’ve got Tom Brady who’s going to stand there and deliver the football, that’s just potent.”

Rice went old-school when searching for a historical comparison with Johnson: He likened Megatron to a 1950s 49ers receiver named R.C. Owens, whose famous scoring play was the alley-oop in the end zone. (The term “alley-oop” was applied to Owens’ catches in football before it was used in basketball.)

“I look at him more like R.C. Owens [because] of the plays where he just went up and took it out of the air,” Rice said. “They used to tell R.C. Owens, ‘Just go to the end zone and jump.’ And that’s what you see from Calvin Johnson.”

And the player who scored more touchdowns than anyone else in NFL history likes what he sees from Johnson.

96 responses to “Jerry Rice: Megatron, Fitzgerald are better than Welker

  1. You left off the rest of the quote.

    “I also think that water is wet, the sky is blue, the Star Wars prequels sucked and Lebron doesn’t play very well in the fourth quarter,” he added.

  2. And some might argue Carter was better than Rice, if he had the same talent at QB that Jerry had.

  3. And next year all the “brilliant” analysts will be riding the receiver who’s dominating that season.

    Let’s judge on overall accomplishments. Larry Fitzgerald had the best playoff run any receiver has seen and it shouldn’t be diminished because of currently poor quarterback and offensive line play.

    Calvin Johnson most likely will dominate for years to come, but let’s let him first before making this ever-changing top receivers’ list.

  4. I think if someone were starting a team, they would pick # 1 wr-Fitz or CJ over Welker. However, for what he does, play in the slot..he is the best there has ever been. Apples to Oranges, really.

  5. I’m sure Welker would agree with Rice and be very happy to be considered a “top 5” guy. Kudo’s to him for all the hard work he put in just to get to that level. Welker is great, but Megatron’s a freak, the type of position athlete who only comes along once in a generation (kind of how like Rice was 20 years ago)

  6. What’s the point? Since Ochochinco played well before being in NE, does that mean Welker is a better player than him? Was Randy Moss also just a roll player? Rice also might want to watch more games — Welker has lined up outside a number of times and performed better than real “elite receivers” against guys like Revis and Asomugha. I’ve also seen Megatron have very lousy games where he can not get open against mediocre secondaries.

  7. Sounds like Rice knows who’s most likely to catch up to one of his records, and is acting accordingly.

  8. last year Andre Johnson was everyones unanimous #1 pick in this discussion. dude is out 3 weeks and falls off the map?

  9. Just to argue in Welker’s defense:

    Calvin Johnson catching bombs on first or second down is great but it’s hard when the defense knows the pass is coming on third down and a certain amount of yards is needed.

    Welker always seems to come up with the crucial yardage needed to keep the offense on the field. I’ll still take Johnson because his talent is too much greater.

  10. Jerry come on man, I definitely agree with the slot to outside receiver thing but lets not bring up whos throwing the ball because thats EXACTLY the reason I didn’t think you should of been the number 1 on the top 100 because you played with two players in the top 100 and 1 in the top 5,and not Olinemen. they were your qb’s.I guess you didn’t name yourself number 1 so I’ll cut you some slack.

  11. So I wonder if he thinks Terry Glenn was better than Welker. Welker is a guy who is not afraid to go across the middle – take a hit from someone much bigger than himself – and still hangs onto the ball while fighting for first downs. If that is not is what a wide great reciever does they need to come up with a new position name. Welker is awsome and this year he is the best so far.

  12. I won’t argue who I’d rather have – it probably depends on the situation, but I will say this. Megatron and Fitzgerald are better in every measurable category… except statistics. And statistics and performance on Sunday are all I care about.

  13. Football is a team and sport and players are made better by their supporting cast. All this who’s better than whom talk is pointless. There are so many variables.

  14. I love Welker to pieces and wouldn’t trade him for any other WR but he’s not the best pure WR in the NFL. I can’t argue with about 4-5 people being put over him. Greats are great because of A level natural ability AND hard work. Guys like Moss, Fitz, Johnson (both) etc are not only brilliantly gifted but most of them work their butts off to be great. Wes makes the most of the B level gifts he has so that’s why he’s great.
    Just because someone else has an alltime record also doesn’t make them better than the player whose record they broke. No matter who ever does what with his records, Walter Payton is the best RB ever.

  15. Now if you lined up Welker in the slot next to Fitz or Megatron you’d really have something, kind of like the Patriots in 2007 when Randy Moss felt like playing.

    I’m a Pats fan and I have no problem with Jerry’s Rice’s comments.

  16. No disrespect to Rice, but his argument about Revis shutting down Welker if they were matched up doesn’t hold much water. Megatron was matched up against Revis last year, and if I remember correctly Revis won that battle. Johnson only had a few catches and nothing impressive.

    I do agree with Rice that Johnson is a more dangerous receiver, but with these two guys it’s like asking which is more deadly between arsenic and cyanide.

  17. How much is this attributed to not only Brady but Belichick. I honestly think he is the most influential person on the team. His scheming creates all the options and wide open fields for Brady to sit back there and choose. Go ahead and give me a thumbs down but there is a reason Brady got drafted in the last round. It’s a genius system Belichick has created and Brady just does as he is told.

  18. And what about Andre Johnson. To me he is a close second to Megatron however he got hurt and now people forget about him

  19. Just to play devil’s advocate, what kind of numbers exactly does Welker need to put up in order to be considered at Fitzgerald’s or Johnson’s level? He has triple the TD’s and nearly double the yards to Fitz and is second overall only to Johnson in TD’s having gained over 200 yards more. Also, in regards to Welker’s advantage of having Brady as QB, Staffords passing yards are not far behind Brady’s for this season, the difference being just slightly more than Welker’s advantage over Johnson in receiving yards. Also if the so-called slot position is so impossible to cover, why not move more of these elite receivers to it in order to exploit these advantages?And lastly, contrary to Rice’s assertion, I do remember Revis covering Welker many times in their recent meeting, with Welker still garnering over 100 yards and a TD.

  20. Can I go out on a limb here and peg Wes Welker as being way better than Brandon Stokely ever was?

  21. 122 thumbs down for the rodgers and brady better than romo?
    lot of cowboy fans on here.

    and claydefayette, lets not let logic and rationale get in the way of a good argument.

  22. This is awesome! I know it’s only opinion, and that’s fine, but Welker has only gotten this far because of perceived slights and some big chips on his shoulders.

    As a Pats fan, I thank you Jerry.

  23. I’ll take the little guy who can get open at will verses the tall guy whose greatest skill is he can jump higher. Look at the Pats passing O…it’s all about finding space and not about being the best athlete. Measure Welker by evaluating football smarts vs verticle leap. Depending on the Ally Oop for 16 games and playoffs seems a bit too hopeful

  24. They are..Welker isn’t even in my top 10. He’s just a Run & Shoot receiver. You gotta be a true Flanket or X Receiver to be in the top 10.

    Welker wouldn’t even make the Raiders team, unless we decided to run the Run & Shoot Offense.

  25. He’s probably just saying that because Welker is an ugly white midget with crazy eyes who happens to be dating his overally effeminate quarterback. Just a hunch.

  26. ——————————
    chowface86 says:
    Oct 21, 2011 10:35 AM
    Hey Rice,

    At least I didn’t get beat out by Darius Watts for a roster spot.

    Welkerson
    ——————————-

    Hey Welkerson,

    Never heard of you.

    Rice

  27. You didn’t misquote Rice, but this headline takes him out of context. I was watching Mike and Mike and Rice didn’t have a strong opinion on this topic. He was very complimentary to Welker, but just liked Johnson’s speed and size more.

  28. Welker is more like Rice than the other 2. Fitz and Megatron are like Moss, just throw it and they’ll out jump the defenders. I don’t know when jumping high became a greater skill than running precise routes and finding a way to get open.

  29. Sorry you are wrong Jerry Rice, Wes is best he is playing at a MVP level this year if the Pats lost him they would be struggling this year the main reason the Pats are 5-1 is because no one has an answer for Welker.

  30. Rice is correct. However, like Rice himself, Welker simply works harder. Welker is a harder worker and smarter than any other receiver of his time. Welker is also much tougher than any other receiver.

  31. Exactly what thepatriotway said, you are comparing apples to oranges here. Welker is a completely different receiver than Fitzgerald and Calvin.

    Like of course Fitzgerald and Calvin are better pure receivers but that’s a really odd comparison either way.

  32. Let’s not forget that one season does not make “the greatest receiver ever”. But if Welker can continue on his currect performances for 4,5,6 years I can’t see how you leave him out of the conversation.

  33. yeah no kidding Jerry. Welker is the best slot WR in the league, and should be an all pro every year. But I dont think many people would claim he is better than Calvin Johnson.

    But to completely discredit him because he plays the slot, or plays with Brady is a joke.

    He is easily top 10.

  34. Comparisons of individual players on different teams in different systems are always going to draw strong opinions on both sides. All I know is this – the reason the Pats traded for Welker in 2007 is because at the time Belichick basically said he was uncoverable. Rice’s quote “He’s not the guy that’s going to be lined up outside because then you can put a guy like Revis on him and make it just a little bit easier to cover him” seems in my opinion to amplify the value of Welker, not diminish it. But regardless, I’ll take first downs and points over yards any day of the week.

  35. Welker is a product of the system just like Brady is. When Brady is gone and Belichick is gone Welker will be gone. Welker will not chase big money elsewhere and will not try to hang on in another system and embarass himself the way Jerry did. That’s not a put down of Welker when he is done he will have had a far better career than a lot of guys with a lot more talent.

  36. I can name a bunch of receivers better than Wes Welker. He is having the season he’s having due to the QB under center. I hate to say this as a Buffalo Bills fan, but he has the best QB in the NFL throwing him the ball. Wes gets these little dink and dunk receptions and gets a lot of his yards after the catch. It’s exactly how he is getting a lot of yards and a lot of receptions. On the top of my head, I can name Andre Johnson, Megatron, Fitz, Roddy White, Greg Jennings, Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, and probably even A.J. Green as better receivers. If I needed a WR to go up and get the ball, these receivers will do that. Wes Welker doesn’t have that ability. His ability is to go after these short slant routes and get long after the catch gains.

  37. C’mon Jerry, we all know you drafted Welker before Megatron and Fitz in your PPR league. Oh wait, you were talking about for real football?

  38. Jerry was the ultimate beneficiary of having good QB’s throwing to him for his entire career. I hope he is not discrediting Wes Welker for having Brady.

    Wes is a completely different player than Johnson (I just can’t refer to him as “Megatron”…that is the dumbest knickname I have ever heard) or Fitzgerald. Completely different position, completely different requirements and I would say that if you put Johnson or Fitz in the slot, they would be terrible, whereas Welker would be productive playing the outside.

    It is an apples to oranges situation.

  39. I agree! Anyone remember Welker when he played for the Dolphins? QB play is a huge part as well.

  40. Undrafted free agent vs. #2 and #3 overall selections.
    Fitz and ‘tron are more complete WR’s but there’s ZERO chance they were a better value.

  41. I dont think their is a debate that C. Johnson and Fitzgerald are better WRs then Welker – not to say that Welker isnt good himself.

    IMO, put C. Johnson and Fitzgerald into ANY offense and line them up at any WR position and they will still be dominant players; that doesnt apply to Welker – that isnt a knock on him, its just what it is.

  42. Welker is a product of the system. Period. Point blank. WR screens, quick hitches, 5 yard routes. Who can’t catch 120 passes doing that? As a matter of fact they already have a clone of him on the team, Edelman. The position is plug and play. He was trash in Miami and now he steps into that system and is being mentioned with those other guys? BS. Look, the guy is a chain mover. No doubt about it but put him on any other team and he’s what he was in Miami. He can’t play on the outside. Guys live Revis would eat him alive. Let’s be real here and stop dreaming.

  43. Wes Welker actually has to get open amongst much bigger defenders, CJ has to out jump short DBs. I’ll take Wes any day.

  44. “He is having the season he’s having due to the QB under center”

    You can say that about every great statistical year a WR has ever had. Don’t forget, Rice had 2 HOF’s throwing to him for most of his career. So I guess you might as well say that taints Jerry’s stats that prove he was the GOAT.
    Fitz is better than Calvin. Welker is better than both at this point, but Fitz is very close. Calvin is a one trick pony.

  45. It’s funny to hear Jerry Rice play down someone’s statistics because they play with a great QB in an offense that gives them a schematic advantage.

  46. didn’t Welker just have a great game against Revis? I saw him run right by Revis for a long pass. I agree Megatron and Fitzgerald are propably better all around receivers with their physical skills but to say you can put a guy like Revis on Welker and shut him down doesn’t hold water.

  47. It’s funny how people are getting hung up about this. He’s putting Welker in the top 5, right there in the same company as Fitz and Johnson. Isn’t that good enough?
    BTW, nowhere is Rice calling himself the greatest. Almost everyone else does, though. It wasn’t just his stats.

  48. cubano76 says: Oct 21, 2011 12:45 PM

    I agree! Anyone remember Welker when he played for the Dolphins? QB play is a huge part as well.

    _______________________________

    Anyone remember Steve Young on Tampa? Or Brett Favre on Atlanta, or Mike Vrabel on Pittsburgh?

    Just because a guy didnt perform on one team doesnt meant he isnt talented.

  49. kevpft says:
    Oct 21, 2011 9:47 AM
    Sounds like Rice knows who’s most likely to catch up to one of his records, and is acting accordingly.
    ————-
    Well duh…whoever is likely to break his record is the better WR right now. But the point is that both Welker and Johnson might break his records (for receiving yards and TDs respectively). But Rice’s greatness comes from high level of play over a long period of time (longevity) not just one or two seasons.

  50. raiderlyfe510 says:
    Oct 21, 2011 10:43 AM
    They are..Welker isn’t even in my top 10. He’s just a Run & Shoot receiver. You gotta be a true Flanket or X Receiver to be in the top 10.

    Welker wouldn’t even make the Raiders team, unless we decided to run the Run & Shoot Offense.

    That comment is really, really dumb..Raiders have a TE, but other than that, receivers are below average.

    god you sound like a jet fan

  51. cubano76 says:
    Oct 21, 2011 12:45 PM
    I agree! Anyone remember Welker when he played for the Dolphins? QB play is a huge part as well.

    I remember Welker when he played for Miami…well, having attended many games .

    He was phenominal in Miami…a team w/no QB, TE or WR’s…EVERY team that played Dolphins double or triple teamed him…and he beat up on some great NE teams also…And guess what? Guy is STILL unstoppable….Not only that, he blocks like he’s 250 lbs.

  52. Welker is having a top 5 year of all time and is one of the top 5 WR’s in football. But, he’s matched up against LB’s in the slot or teams #2 DB for most of his career thus far. He needs to get a 5 yard pass and run, and is a great slot guy no doubt. But, he’s not Moss, Rice, Megatron or Fitz to change the entire defensive scheme of a team. If Brady didn’t ALL DAY and have 5 guys to throw to on every play, and WW was his only option, teams would double team him and he’d have half the yards he has now. The other guys all put the numbers up with coverages WW has never seen. Even much less QB’s like Moss and Megatron have played with most of their careers, while WW has arguably the best ever.

  53. So the fact that Welker rarely even goes against a freak’n CORNER, much less a #1 corner, doesn’t bother anyone?

    The guy has made a career out of beating freak’n LINEBACKERS and running through holes in zone, averaging 10-11 yards/catch, and getting single digit TDs.

    All of a sudden, now that he’s had a couple of fluke long plays inflating his numbers through 6 games this year, he’s a Top 5 WR? LOL. People are so unbelievably stupid.

    Welker isn’t a TOP 30 WIDE RECEIVER. He flat-out can’t beat a good corner one-on-one. He has no deep speed whatsoever, no breakaway speed, and he could never beat anyone running a deep out or a post. He’s a freelancing slot receiver in a spread offense. He gets about 40 catches a year from WR screens. Put Eddie Royal or a healthy Brandon Stokley or Jordan Shipley in there and you get similar (if not better) production.

    As for Jerry Rice…he was a freak’n game breaking monster from Mars in his prime. He averaged 18+ yards/catch every year during the 1980’s, with the excpetion of 1987, when he averaged 16.6 (and had 22 receiving TDs (23 total) in 12 games). Possession (oh, but he’s got great TECHNIQUE!!!111) receivers don’t compare.

  54. “Johnson would be a major playmaker in any offense”

    Not on the 2008 Detroit Lions!

  55. As a Pats fan, I do agree with Rice. The one thing that simply shows that some ex athletes shouldn’t be ESPN analysts was his statement that you wouldn’t put a corner like Revis on a slot receiver like Welker. Jerry, did you even WATCH the Pats-Jets game a couple weeks back? The Jets put Revis on Welker ALL DAY!

  56. @ owensdefense

    You’re an idiot. I agree that Rice is the greatest ever, but the West Coast offense that he was part of was predicated on the SHORT passing game. Most of Rice’s yards were accrued AFTER the catch…ya know, kinda like Welker. I am in NO WAY comparing Welker to Rice. They certainly were different WRs, but let’s not give the impression that Rice ran down the field catching 20-30 yard passes all of the time. A LOT of his stuff was slants and crossing routes not posts and goes.

    As for Welker, he does NOT “free lance”. Every team basically runs a spread offense now. And Eddie Royal, Jordan Shipley, and Brandon Stokely can’t hold Welker’s jock. And, c’mon. Welker RARELY goes against a corner? Look. I watch EVERY Pats game, and I can assure you that the opposing defenses don’t stick a LB on Welker. The LBs are too worried about Gronkowski and Hernandez.

    Just get a clue. Welker is one of the best right now. He won’t go down as one of the best ever, but right now, he’s a top 10 receiver.

    Also, Calvin Johnson has had years of single digit TDs. 4 in 2007 and 5 in 2009. Since 2007, Welker has 483 recptions for 5300 yards and 28 TDs. Johnson has 306 for 4755 and 42 TDs. Don’t get me wrong. Johnson is a better WR, but Welker produces. He just does not have the size to be a red zone target like Johnson or in Welker’s case like Moss, Gronk, or Hernandez.

  57. polo550 says:Oct 21, 2011 1:17 PM

    Welker is a product of the system. Period. Point blank. WR screens, quick hitches, 5 yard routes. Who can’t catch 120 passes doing that? As a matter of fact they already have a clone of him on the team, Edelman. The position is plug and play. He was trash in Miami and now he steps into that system and is being mentioned with those other guys? BS. Look, the guy is a chain mover. No doubt about it but put him on any other team and he’s what he was in Miami. He can’t play on the outside. Guys live Revis would eat him alive. Let’s be real here and stop dreaming.

    ——————————–

    I agree that Fitzgerald and Johnson are probably better outside wide receivers but saying what Wes does is plug and play is wrong. Edelman hasn’t been able to even come close to doing what Wes does. That’s certainly what the Patriots hoped for, but it hasn’t worked in practice. Also, Wes was a game changer on Miami, but they didn’t know what they had. He started only 1 game in 2005 and 2 in 2006. He played well both years. In 2006 he had 67 receptions 687 yards and 10.3 yrd per reception average. Miami was really dumb to let him go.

  58. Owensdefence…complete goof…I’m a Jets fan and the CBs spent plenty of time bumping and covering WW in the last Jets/Pats game…have you watched any football since 2009?

  59. jeffharwell3 says:
    Oct 21, 2011 9:41 AM
    1. megatron
    2. mike wallace
    3.fitz
    4. andre johnson
    5. welker

    _______________

    Dumbdumb Steeler fanboys need not apply.

  60. Rice was good w/ whatever qb he had. He showed 80% consistency throughout his career w/ any system/quarterback/coach. So, even though, Young and Montana were great they benifitted more from Rice than Rice from them.

    Example:
    Young’s rating w/o Rice is under 60… w/ Rice is over 100.

    Montana himself stated “Rice added (he says a number here I believe was 4 but I could be wrong) years to my career.”

    Again, Montana and Young are fantastic in their own right, but they did not make Rice.

    Also, the comment about Rice going to another system for greater money and failing….. What planet are you living on? Rice was successful every season other than his last when he was over 40 years old.

    In any case; it isn’t hipocritcal of Rice to explain a qb/system makes a WR as he didn’t list himself as number 1 in the nfl top 100(in an interview before the final episode listing players 1-10 he even expressed relief when he was told he would be in the top 10).

    As far as his comments, they are right on.

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